Written by Ryan Hurt.
Graphic by Peyton Cabaniss.

True, authentic love is a mystery. It can be right in front of our faces without our realization, while at the same time being remote when we think it’s right next to us. From a sincere “How are you?” all the way to “What the hell are you thinking?” (tough love) there is no universal way to fully describe what it actually is. After all these years and a million efforts, poets, philosophers, and songwriters are still finding new ways to express love. Thankfully, that will continue. In a time that is dominated by fear and widespread pessimism, we sometimes need constant reminders of the power of love – a word we can never say, hear, sing and spread enough. And sometimes just our actions, or even our presence, can speak loudest of all.

Human beings are social creatures. We need love, and lots of it, to reinforce the deep connection that makes us feel human. When we receive a good hug, a warm smile, a high five, or even a horns up, the positive energy bolts directly past our brain and into our hearts. It lights up like a new lightbulb and we can feel the energy give us a better sense of purpose. But why? We like to think that love is only display for unique occasions like weddings, birthdays, or even funerals. But love is not a power to reserve for our greatest emotional peaks and valleys. It is a daily tool that many have attempted to uncover, but only few have succeeded. Love, one of singlehandedly most pleasant emotions to experience, is a concept as old as time itself, so why haven’t we mastered the art of utilizing it in our everyday lives? To me the answer is simple: we are looking in the wrong places. In fact, it can be said that the best lovers are the ones who are always there to listen, never afraid to pursue their passions, and prioritize taking care of their own. And of course — are never afraid to bark!

Dogs can teach us so much if we’re willing to heed their wordless wisdom. Always watchful, never judgmental, dogs love without reservation. They don’t worry about the past or the future. They’re focused on the present, and mistakes are forgotten with the flick of a Frisbee. They not only accept what reality is, but they celebrate it wholeheartedly. We can take an important lesson about love from our favorite pets. Some days we may envy them because they’re rolling on pure instinct, enjoying the simple things, and living in the moment. And for all we know, their treats might taste better than ours. But there is a deeper connection to our admiration for pets that stems from this overwhelming expression of love. For humans, staying in the moment is a daily challenge and a lifelong quest. Perfection is never achievable, but improvement always is. Dogs show us that love is a curious mix of self-awareness and self-abandonment. On the one hand, it takes a relentless determination to openly acknowledge our flaws and strive to actively make them better. On the other hand, trusting your instincts, tabling introspection, and hitting the trail at full stride like our beloved 4-legged creatures can feel like the ultimate expression of our best self, which opens us up to the purest kind of love.

The things about love is that it’s always there for us when we need it most. There are entire shows, blogs, books, and campaigns devoted to what infuriates people, what they hate. But how refreshing is it when somebody speaks from the heart about something they love? Whether it be bluegrass, Blue’s Clues or blueberry pie: the subject matters far less than the principle. The world needs more love, and when you share what you love, it has the magical effect of bringing people together. The more you share your love, the more you connect with the people you love, and the more you connect with the people you love, the richer your life is. The recipe is time tested and it will never change. So, go out and spread it! Spread it all over like a grilled cheese, because at the end of the day, our planet is in harmony when everybody is doing what they love, and loving what they do. Bark!

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