In a relationship that's older than recorded history, our canine companions have been instrumental in shaping humanity's concepts of loyalty and love. Though perhaps the greatest gift dogs have to offer us is not merely their company as cherished pets, but rather a lesson on love as kind-hearted ambassadors from the animal kingdom.
While we've come to think of dogs as members of our families, distinct from all other types of creatures, these pets prove much less discriminating in how they regard animals unlike themselves -- an example we'd be wise to follow.
Dogs have demonstrated a remarkable open-mindedness when it comes to showing care and compassion, not only to us, but to needy animals of all varieties. Even Charles Darwin, who struggled to account for animal altruism within his theories of natural selection, noted that many canines exhibit behavior not easily explained in terms of evolution, writing in his treatise The Descent of Man:
"I have myself seen a dog, who never passed a cat who lay sick in a basket, and was a great friend of his, without giving her a few licks with his tongue, the surest sign of kind feeling in a dog."