Project Unconditional  — Jane Sobel Klonsky Photographer

Wikipedia puts it like this:

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations, it can also be love without conditions. This term is sometimes associated with other terms such as true altruism, or complete love. Each area of expertise has a certain way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it is that type of love which has no bounds and is unchanging. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. An example of this is a parent’s love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional.

As I read this definition, I realize I have never had this experience, except with my dogs. Even in marriage there are conditions. A pact is signed; promises made, and love ebbs and flows within time. A good marriage is less conditional and a bad marriage—YIKES! So, when photographer Jane Klonsky contacted my husband Blake and me to contribute to her Project Unconditional, we didn’t hesitate.

If you follow my blog, you are familiar with the Thulani Program—a division of German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California which places old and medically needy dogs in forever foster care homes. Jane’s Project Unconditional  is on a mission to capture the love between humans and their dogs—especially those challenged with age. Click though the photo gallery below to see the results of our contribution to this wonderful project. (All photos courtesy of Jane Sobel Klonsky.)

The courage, loyalty and yes unconditional love these dogs bring with them after often years of abuse is fascinating. Many of us struggle with life’s challenges and spend much time licking those wounds. Yet these dogs, often abused for years— underfed, left for dead or dropped into shelters to be euthanized—put it all aside as soon as human kindness shows them a way to live. And live they do. In a few days they begin a life they have often never known—a life with balls, treats, warmth and love. They soak up every ounce of joy then return it in full, plus more, with the unconditional love defined above.

Many indigenous people believe that animal guides are our connection to the natural world. Pets of all types, and particularly dogs, have become more popular as society’s stresses increase. They have become our teachers, companions and guides. They remind us that all is not lost—there is always hope.