I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a hopeless romantic (with an occasional emphasis on the “hopeless”).

To me, there’s nothing better than a love story – how boy meets girl and girl meets boy, the overcoming of obstacles and adversity in pursuit of romance, the harmony of two hearts becoming one.

Unfortunately, reality isn’t so straightforward. Relationships are hard, a roller coaster ride full of ups, downs, twists, turns, loops, rapid starts and sudden stops. Some parts are exhilarating and fun while others leave you sick and make you think twice about getting back on.

But we do because love is the greatest thing we can experience in life.

I say this despite none of my relationships having worked out thus far, but I consider them all to be successful in that they teach me something new every time.

The best lesson, however, comes from the most unlikely teacher. She taught me what it really means to care for someone, to love them during times when they’re not very lovable. A kind of love that is quick to forgive and never forgets the kind of person you are, always choosing to see you in the best possible light. A love that we don’t really deserve but is given to us anyway.

A love that makes you believe in the improbable.

Think about it: Finding someone who catches your eye is not uncommon; it’s merely physical attraction. That’s how it typically starts but it’s such a small piece of the whole because looks can only go so far. People are complex creatures so what are the odds one will possess all the traits you find appealing in a partner?

I don’t necessarily believe in a soulmate, but I do believe in an ideal match. This is the person who checks all the necessary boxes and then some. The one who occupies your thoughts, the one you want above all others.

But that’s only half of the equation.

They have to feel the same way about you, too, and that’s beyond your control, which makes it scary and intimidating. Mathematical estimates for finding “the one” during a person’s lifetime put the odds at 1 in 10,000.

That doesn’t look promising at all, yet 2.3 million couples in the U.S. say, “I do,” every year, which means love is a miracle we can actually attain. We may not get it right the first time, but it’s always worth fighting for. There’s no emotion more powerful.

I know because I see it every day in the way Tina Louise, my 2-year-old pug, looks at me like I am the only person on the planet who matters. I experience it every time I come home from work and am greeted by uncontrollable spasms of excitement, her way of saying, “I missed you.” I witness it in the way she refuses to sleep on car rides because closing her eyes means I “disappear.” It’s evident in how she says, “I’m sorry,” and, “I still love you,” by licking the hand that disciplines her. It’s in the way she finds joy in doing nothing simply because we are doing nothing together.

This is what we should strive for. This is how we should love. The world is a better place when we choose to love ourselves and each other the way our pets do, to draw inspiration from those who spend their whole lives looking up to us.

A sort of puppy love.

A love that requires no words – just an adoring look and a wag of the tail.

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