As I write this, he is cuddled at my side purring. At 6:30 AM, even before my hand reaches for the snooze button, it feels around the blankets in search of the small, furry creature who is my best friend. When I get home from school, Niko greets me at the door. I scoop him up and carry him in my arms up to my room, where we begin a silent conversation consisting of petting and purring. He never talks back, and always listens. He tells me exactly what I want to hear without saying anything at all. I vent to him, knowing that my secrets are safe. This best friend of mine will never gossip behind my back, never lie to me, and never break my heart. He transcends the greatest human qualities, and is free of all of the imperfect ones.
I rely on Niko, and he relies on me. I provide him with food and water, and he provides me with unconditional love. These things we couldn’t live without. His inability to comprehend outside influences is what makes our relationship so strong. It is what makes me trust him more than anyone else in my life. It is what compels me to look for him in the morning, and when I get home from school. It is what makes me trust him with secrets I would never tell my parents, or even my closest girlfriends.
The connection between Niko and I, and all animals and humans, is something much stronger than any human relationship. Humans complicate the bonds they have with each other through words and artificial expression, something animals are completely incapable of. Niko shows me he cares. He proves it to me through physical actions, not through meaningless comments. The pure connection that animals have isn’t polluted by disloyalty and outside influences: the bond is based on feeling, as all relationships should be.
Animals provide a type of unconditional love that is unrivaled by humans. Niko doesn’t have to tell me he loves me. I don’t have to him that I love him too. That critical point is what sets our relationship apart from any other one I have. Our muted conversations are without sound, but not without feeling. They have shown me how much animals can enrich a life, and have taught me that the inability to speak is their greatest gift. The lack of words only strengthens the connection. If the love in a relationship is strong enough, it doesn’t need to be spelled out. Feeling is enough. The most loyal and loving friend may have meowed at your feet for a treat this morning, or barked at you to warn you of a stranger. The most loyal and loving friend may be in your lap right now. The most loyal and loving friend may be just the one who can’t tell you how much they care.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.