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The Risk of Love

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There's a certain level of bravery required in loving what will inevitably be lost.

In fact, to love in any way is inherently a gamble -- the risk involved will vary, but no amount of pain-staking calculation or logic can guarantee the absence of heartbreak (though all scientists should feel free to accept this challenge). Granted, some of us are more comfortable with risk than others -- I myself have drunk expired milk once or twice before -- but even the riskiest of gamblers will pull their money out if told that their chances of a loss are 100 percent.

Which is, consequently, the risk of loving a pet.

We all know very well when we bring our animals home that they will some day be leaving us. It's a morbid outlook, but the difficult truth is that by choosing to love a pet, we are investing in a little tragedy. This is hardly a new concept and it is one that extends much further than pet owning, but for some reason, we keep on buying more stock. Every day people start relationships they know will end, begin projects that will never be finished and invest time and energy into temporary happiness... it is irrational, it is foolish, and it is one of my favorite flaws of the human condition.

I lost my puppy on Monday. We, as a family, lost Ruby to cancer -- a battle that she fought nobly but unfortunately lost. She was, in the most unoriginal and cliché way, my best friend and protector since I was a puppy myself, and I loved her as foolishly and irrationally as any little girl has ever loved her dog. Naturally, our hearts are broken, and with Valentine's Day coming up this Friday, I can't help but ask myself the time-old question: Why do we do it? Why do we openly and willingly love what we know we'll inevitably lose?

The most obvious answer is simple: The happiness that they bring us is worth whatever pain may ultimately come. After all, "tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." However, what this philosophy fails to mention is how love will affect the receiver. True, there is nothing scarier than to love, but there is also nothing greater than to be loved. Be it romantic, platonic, parental, or pet-ternal, by allowing ourselves to love another, we are providing them with the single most sought-after gift on earth. It is why dogs bring us so much joy -- their love is unyielding, untainted and unconditional. To withhold something so precious would be nothing less than selfish.

So yes, it is scary. And yes, it may eventually hurt. But by mustering the courage to be so vulnerable, we are making the lives of those around us worth living -- just as my Ruby did for me.