Some will say their marriage, romance or love for their children is perfect, but I’d disagree. 

As devoted as my husband and I were to each other and as crazy as I am about my sweet daughter, all of these are human loves, and as fraught with imperfections as each of us.

In this life, I can only feel certain that I’ve felt and been the recipient of perfect love from two sources…

My faith in God informs my first encounter with perfect love. God has never failed me, has supported me through my darkest hours and I know He loves me whether I am at my best or at my worst. He finds goodness in me when I surely cannot find it in myself. 

His love and faithfulness are absolute and complete, and they are given through grace, not because of anything I’ve done to deserve it.

My second example of perfect love touches me daily. That love greets me each morning, lays down with me at night (sometimes under the covers), follows me as I do my chores, comes along as I drive myself into town or relax in the backyard after a long day. 

This perfect love in my life is currently multiplied by ten. Ten perfectly imperfect examples of God’s love cannot wait to lick me, crawl into my lap, hold my hand in their mouth, trip me as I walk around the ranch and excitedly try to ride or run with me everywhere I go. Ten loving dogs.

As I get older, I find I have more time, patience and respect for the roll dogs play in our lives. 

I recently had a friend (and editor of this esteemed newspaper) tell me that she believes dogs are a manifestation of God’s love for us, and I think she’s absolutely right! When I was a kid, we always had a big German Shepherd.

They  weren’t big on playing ball but they always made me feel safe. My dad and grand-folks used to laugh about me laying down on our back porch on top of our old dog Kingy, and telling him all my problems. 

Later, once I had a home and family of my own, I enjoyed the antics of our big old ranch dogs who ran down coyotes and the occasional deer, as well as our acrobatic, gopher-killing, spaghetti loving border collie, Francis “the wonder dog”. But being honest, when I was busy trying to help Fred with the ranch and raise a daughter, I didn’t really appreciate having the dogs underfoot.

Too me, they felt like one more responsibility, albeit a sweet one, in an already too busy life. I thank God and each of them that they never seemed to mind my irritation. 

But now, with Fred and his folks gone and the ranch a much quieter place, I have more time to appreciate dogs’ pure and simple goodness, their steadfast dedication and their seemingly endless ability to forgive us our trespasses. 

No matter how unbearable I am when I come home, their attitude and approach is always the same. 

They are beyond delighted to see me and spend time with me. I count my ten dog pack as some of my best friends these days, and I’m eternally grateful to God for sending them my way.

Why ten??? Why not. It’s a big ranch and they all get along and give us more love than we could ever repay. All but three of our dogs are rescues, but I can assure you that each of them rescues me each day.

God and dogs…two examples of perfect love for very imperfect people and times. 

Kris Stewart is a rancher from Paradise Valley, Nevada