The love we feel for our pets is incredibly special, but, after two decades working with animals, I believe that it pales in comparison to the love they have for us.

If we could learn more from them, the world would be a happier place. For, as humans, we know what unconditional love is, but we are not capable of it.

Animals are. Unlike us, they are not governed by their moods, or what happened yesterday.

They’re not judgemental or vindictive. unless they have experience cruelty, they live in the moment, approaching every encounter as a new opportunity to share their love. That is why some of the most vulnerable people often form the strongest bonds with their pets, because they are more open to that unconditional love.

I’ve seen a child with cerebral palsy whose dog soothed her to sleep, and a man with terminal cancer who died with dignity because of the strength he drew from his dog. It’s a symbiotic relationship: we express our love looking after them, they express theirs in the comfort they give us.

And it works. When our pets greet us, no matter how terrible our day, their delight in seeing us makes us feel better. When other relationships falter, their affection is guaranteed.

This week, I reunited a woman with her dog after 6 weeks apart. Nobody seeing the dog’s tail wagging and her tears of joy could doubt that they loved each other.