This is the winning entry from FidoJournalism’s “Unconditional Love” contest in 2010. Rome’s story made us laugh and brought us to tears. A true story of unconditional love!
ʌnkənˈdɪʃənl/ Spelled Pronunciation [uhn-kuhn-dish–uh-nl]
1. not limited by conditions; absolute: an unconditional promise.
A seemingly, innocent, naïve, harmless, craven, boxer of about sixty pounds; Rome is actually an unconditionally adorable, droopy-eared, smooshy-faced, loving, sensitive, caring, compassionate, empathetic, cuddly, huggable boy that not even the toughest soul can possess the ability to dislike. Though his behaviors often display a clandestine predilection toward relentless, unconditional, if you will, surreptitiousness, in his mind they are completely normal and socially acceptable. Regardless of his accelerating through hallways chasing the 22-year-old cat, leaping on and off beds, jumping down the open foyer’s two-story staircase into a wall or his own four feet, speed-racing through every room in the house seeking “tom foolery,” burping in faces accidentally facing his direction, stealing meals from countertops and dinner tables, consuming products indigestible and not at all palatable, consequently obligating mom, dad and grandma to pay exorbitant amounts toward veterinarians’ emergency rooms and antibiotics; regardless of whether Rome is publicly exhibiting his impressive ability to immediately regurgitate on cue, revealing everything having entered his stomach within 24 hours, pretending he is lap dog, primarily on days dark and dressy attire is worn, post-dry-cleaned… Regardless of the aforementioned, Rome’s heart is that of a true, beloved boxer, a loyal best friend, a selfless, trustworthy companion, an incomparable pet, a loving son, and unconditional love.
It has become apparent, however, that Rome lacks one virtue… occasional common sense (see pictures). It became abruptly obvious to us when Romey was only months old, the instruction “Be good” was incomprehensible to him.
Though we joke and kid about the graceless, bumbling boxer, we love him more than anything and are very conscious of his safety and happiness. Hence, following the attached, photographed events, we put in place a rule that we have adhered to ever since… Do not trust baby gates— Only locked crates!
Needless to say, Matt and I were rookie parents and felt such intense guilt when locking him in his crate upon leaving for work, etc. Rome has grown to accept his crate and appreciates when we refer to it as his “room,” it still feels inhumane to lock him up. Essentially, to be fair and trusting parents, we have recently been experimentally testing some brief, “un-crated” parental absences in which Rome has been exceeding expectations and is progressively earning our trust and a less-lengthy probationary period. As we do not want to confuse him or create routine inconsistencies, he is always rewarded for and commended on his outstanding behavior. Our decision to ultimately relinquish Rome of serving probation will be evaluated fairly and accordingly. The verdict shall entrust Rome with “free-to-‘roam’ privileges,” simultaneously ensuring that he recognizes the parental authorities’ rules.
Our baby boy is growing up so fast. He is almost 3 years old, but those sweet, sincere, sensitive eyes of his continue to be capable of initiating reminiscence of puppy days… The days when couches, tables, trashcans, beds, dressers, chairs, countertops, and the cat could not be reached, when guests and family did not turn into human jungle gyms and trampolines; back when he refused to get his paws dirty, upchucking was non-existent, as inedible items were not a delicacy, and we could trust that nothing would turn up missing or out of place following our backs being turned. During Rome’s puppy days, we assumed that parents need only worry about teenagers wreaking havoc when home alone, we thought his snoring was cute, his belching was hysterical, the bodily functions he exhibited were priceless, his indoor aerial maneuvers were astounding; and for a brief period, early on, the amount of money we invested in his emergency vet bills was insignificant. All parents cherish memories and reminisce of loved ones’ younger frailties, incidences, experiences, behaviors, and personalities; but all the while they are awaiting the inevitable, subsequent demeanors, personalities, attitudes, behaviors, lifestyles, and futures of their offspring.
Case in point as puppy parents having it made. Our jobs are to love unconditionally and receive unconditional love in return. Dogs, especially boxers like Rome (Yes, we are biased!), remain indefinitely loyal and unconditionally loving to his or her mom, dad or master. Earning the trust, companionship and unconditional love of a dog is priceless and rewarding. If Matt’s and my most challenging goal as dog owners concerns Rome’s probationary status on being home alone, I’d say we are pretty fortunate. To some, the excessive bragging and doting on our pets is pointless and insignificant. Matt and I do idolize Rome and consider him our baby boy, but that is a role we wanted and opted for. We consider ourselves very blessed to have such an amazing pet. Alternative offspring love unconditionally, but at times because it is inherent, subconscious and obligatory. Dogs love unconditionally because it feels good and it is what they thrive on and strive for; it is their wish to make us happy. How amazing it is to be loved by something or someone so selflessly, so unconditionally, and need not do anything in return but love it back?!
Rome is unbelievably adventurous and curious, but also exceedingly and unconditionally loving, as most pets are. The distinction between simply owning a dog and being an unconditionally loving parent of a dog lies in the assurance you provide to your dog; ensure that you will be there for your dog, unconditionally, take care of, protect, play with, and love, of course, unconditionally. Our Rome is completely cognizant of how unconditionally loved he is. Long before adopting Rome, Matt and I agreed, promised and vowed that if we adopt a dog, the dog is family and we abide by the dictionary’s definition of the word, “unconditional.” Unconditional: “not limited by conditions; absolute.” Though it may not always be easy (Who said parenting is?), I promise that responsibly parenting a pet and spoiling it rotten is outrageous fun and forever unconditionally rewarding and gratifying… to all parties involved. How many opportunities are we offered where we are uncompromisingly shadowed, idolized, worshipped, cared for, protected, forgiven, understood, and loved (you guessed it) unconditionally?!
Whether he is the naughtiest and most hyperactive of boxers, high-maintenance and the craziest of canines, or the deepest money pit imaginable, Rome is ours, family, friend, and unconditionally loved. We need to appreciate and love the blessings we are dealt in life. Often this is learned the hard way. Locating blessings and fortunes exudes little effort, however, as most often they are staring you directly in the face!