People often talk to me, telling me how handsome I am, how sweet I am, and so on. I enjoy these talks very much. Sometimes though, people will talk to me, I mean really talk to me. I used to spend a lot of time with one nice man at the hospital, who really connected with me. He had a lot of problems, not just physical ones, and he was trying to put his broken life back together. Each day, after my Mom would visit and place me on his bed, I would get cozy and lie down in the space between his crossed legs, rest my chin on him, and he would stroke my head and talk quietly to me. He shared things about himself —dark secrets—that he had never told another soul. Bad things he had done in his life, people he had hurt, acts that he was very ashamed of. And he talked about how he was going to change and be a better man, starting now. Most times, tears leaked out of his eyes as he talked to me. One time, he sobbed. One day my Mom visited him alone, and he shared about our talking visits. He said that he talked to me because he felt that I actually listened, and that I actually understood, and (most importantly) that I actually loved him anyway. And the truth is, I actually did. I couldn’t tell him in words, but with my eyes and my touch, I expressed unconditional love and compassion to him.
My Mom believes that I was the best therapy for this nice man, who had many troubles weighing on his heart and his soul. And I think all of us animals can be good therapy for lots of humans. I think people like to talk to animals because we don’t—we can’t—talk back. And, even if we could talk, we wouldn’t say things like “how could you?” or “I told you so!” We don’t judge or disapprove or criticize. We don’t get bored or impatient. We only listen with quiet acceptance and forgiveness. And with unconditional love.