“Unconditional Love”, a haibun.


Gally, Galahad, found in the end of a driveway 12 years ago…starved and unable to walk.  Today, a healthy and lovely couch potato.


Baba 2

Baba, one of two my son brought home about 8 years ago.  “Mom, I have a surprise for you” and I always knew what it was to be.  Baba the Bully. He was supervising the remodel and painting of the cat room.  He picked “Bluebird” for the walls.


Over at dversepoets pub, Kanzen Sakura (aka Toni) is hosting and has presented a prompt that should bring a basket full of lovely fruit!  Pleasure, what is free in life, etc…there are many ways to go about this, but I’ve picked something that has been a thorny issue lately: unconditional love. in the theological sense, I see a wall of argument.  But in practice..?  It’s so much easier.  Mostly.  I practice this on animals.  Humans I’m not so sure of.

Lady Nyo

Many, faced with my multiple cats and dogs, asked if I was crazy? Perhaps I am. I don’t give a damn about most things today that others are yelling about. I give a damn about animals (always ever growing) I find on the streets, injured, abandoned, starving. Here in brutal Atlanta, it is almost a daily occurrence.

I have four dogs, and in this long life I have had many more. They were all pitiful strays. They lived out their lives here and are planted under rose bushes, boxwood, daffodils. Too many to count over 45 years on this property. And everyone mourned, not forgotten.

Cats? Presently I have nine. One, Tobie, lived to twenty years. He came out of a tree one day and never left. Before Xmas, I found a young male, hit by a car and crippled. He could ‘walk’…he flipped from side to side and the inside of his back legs were a mess of sores where urine ate at his flesh. He was skinny, with a crushed pelvis. A month of bed rest (cage) provided a miracle. Now Willow is walking at a crouch. But this is progress. His black coat shines like bo silk. His daily progress gives me great joy.

So many people don’t avail themselves of one of the most beautiful benefits of animals: unconditional love.  It’s Free! Once they give into trust, you can’t help but bond. That a tiny kitten or a feral cat, or a burned dog can allow you to pick them up and not be afraid? This is a miracle to me.

This kind of love enlarges the soul, expands the heart.  And it is always available.

I don’t have to beg the cats to listen to a new poem. I can tell whether I bore them or by the closing eyes, perhaps they are soothed by my cobbled words. And no cat is indifferent to your presence. They are wise and know their place in the Universe. I am not so wise.


Life’s greatest pleasure!

Soft purr of contentment

Immeasurable gift.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017



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46 Responses to ““Unconditional Love”, a haibun.”

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    And there is no greater love, that he/she gave up their life so that others could live….my own paraphrasing. I think this is the most incredible examples of unconditional love..that you care enough and love enough to take in, feed, heal, house these forsaken animals and that they love and trust you without question. You both accept each other as the other is and simply love. That is true unconditional love.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Toni. I got so overwhelmed with the theological issue of UL, that I just couldn’t see clear anymore. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind guidance on all of this. I guess we understand these issues by living them, not so much intellectually?
    I’m sitting here, scratching flea bites. LOL! Because of our too mild winter, we are going to pay a heavy price for all the critters that didn’t die off this winter. But at least….these babies will have relief. LOL! It’s early to start ‘Off” but so it goes.
    I have to praise my husband of 32 years. He is allergic to cats and dogs….so he has…for 20 years got monthly shots. I know his immune system is a wreck because of our guys and gals here…but what love he give! And these guys have no problem sleeping on his face!

    Thank you, Toni. After all these years with these guys, we would feel ’empty’ without out them. They are the stuff of our daily lives. And Willow, the crippled cat? He has his own harness and lead and is finally getting used to it. Of course, I follow up his ‘exercise’ with fresh catnip. He goes wild! LOL!

    Our lives would be greatly impoverished if it were not for them. They have truly cut through the crap of stuff and taught me unconditional love.


  3. petrujviljoen Says:

    I have one cat, ginger with a white chest. She was a stray, together with her mother. As a kitten she’d stand and scream at me to feed them but really scream, incessant. It’s 9 years later and I get a new every five to ten seconds now, specially in the mornings. We go on walks together, exploring unknown places at her behest and she sleeps in the crook of my arm at night. Very jealous of other animals though. Glad to hear the crippled one is healing. Love how Baba perches on top of the ladder. Have you found Particularly Cats yet?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kanzensakura Says:

    They are the best examples of unconditional love I have come across.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, I agree. Even when they bite or scratch…it’s never a grudge. They go back to loving.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Petru! And Hello to your ginger cat! Yes, they can be really demanding but that is so normal. In this world of so much noise and bigger things, they need to get your attention. I put a wonderful cat of 15 years in the ground three years ago. Chessie. he would follow me on walks all the time…down rail road tracks, through properties and not be afraid of anything. I miss my Cheshire Cat still. Have him planted under some Hydrangeas. You are very fortunate to have a cat that does what your ginger kitty does: follow and explore in the open with you. Sleeping with cats is divine! Years ago, 7 years ago, I had to put my 10 year old Spanky to sleep: leukemia. But he slept right in the small of my back: and he was like a heating pad for my spine. I miss that wonderful cat still. There are so many that have died but they always leave their mark on your heart. They are the teachers and healers with their unconditional love. Willow is doing so much better…Walking at a crouch now, not flopping over from side to side. And your cat being jealous? Possessive Love! LOL! Yes, I believe I’ve read Particularly Cats, but I will go check again. All of them, dogs and cats, enrich our lives to such a deep extent.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jane Dougherty Says:

    I love this post! I know exactly what you mean about the generosity of animals. They give and ask very little in return. Dogs ask for nothing at all. We take in the feline cripples and outcasts that wash up on our doorstep and adopted a Spanish Greyhound after reading an article about the atrocious way they are treated in Spain. It’s not only an enriching experience, it’s a moral obligation. All these domestic animals dumped in the street are our concern. We bred them, made them unfit to live in the wild, and it’s our duty to give them a decent life. I don’t think anyone who understands and appreciates animals can be a bad person because there are no bad animals.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Your comment fills my heart with such joy, Jane! I read about the end of greyhounds…young ones…a few years ago. In a clinic, a door was inadvertently opened and there stacked on the floor were dead greyhounds, like cord wood. This was in Florida. horrible! They lose a race and their lives are ended….or so I have read. And I agree: all these domestic animals are our concern. We bred them, or let them breed (my neighbors are especially guilty of this…and then wonder why they are overrun with cats)….People are insane, not the animals around us. So many here in the south are bred in ignorance….the people, not the animals. I have been told that cats will steal the breath of a baby, so they must be killed..that dogs and cats don’t feel pain….they have no tears so this must be true…etc. Puppies have their mouths wired shut with tight wire and thrown in dumpsters and dumps to die…cats are bludgeoned to death by the gang members (children actually, to grow up and become killers themselves) with the sticks of inniation thrown on the bodies of cats. I have stopped using our local park because of these cruelties….and this behavior comes from a savage heart. A litter of 7 5 week old kittens were left in a box at our gate years ago…and they all survived with hand feeding. The last died at 16 a year ago. I would rather share my life and food with animals..(we even have a resident possum who scratches at the front door to come in…LOL!…he has his own lair in the garden,…and it’s amazing to see the shell of an orange…where he has eaten the flesh, but not disturbed the skin…how does he do that???). And I agree…there are plenty of bad people, though, but no bad animals. You can call me the ‘crazy cat lady’ as some of my more ignorant neighbors do, but I take that as a compliment. Thanks, Friend Jane…your comment made my day! Bless You and what you do, and Bless your animals.


  9. Jane Dougherty Says:

    Thank you for shedding a bit of light on this sorry world…(I have to smile, just had to break off to settle a cat fight downstairs) … we live in. The only people I talk to nowadays are the people who walk their dogs along the river. We talk dog and politics. We are all of the same political family, share similar views about human and animal rights. They are about the only people I feel have a grain of humanity and common sense. I would never call anybody a crazy cat lady. If you get on with cats, there are always cats looking for homes so they just move in. That’s not crazy that’s just being generous. We had the cartoon crazy cat lady living next door. When she was evicted they counted 43 cats living in a tiny apartment. Most of them escaped over the roofs and we spent weeks trying to round them up and find proper homes for them. She wasn’t crazy, just thoughtless, a collectioner more than a rescuer. Sending best wishes across the Atlantic, where it seems humanity is just as dreadful and ignorant as anywhere else.


  10. ladynyo Says:

    Jane…apparently, humanity is as careless and as ignorant as everywhere. And what is worse, is that animals suffer so dreadfully. My motto is “there’s always room for one more.” Or…’cheaper by the dozen’. LOL!

    43 cats….Yikes. At one time, we had 19,but that was a litter of kittens that was dropped on us. We usually have around 8…but it swells from time to time. We just make adjustments…and everyone gets alone. Except the littlest one…Grayson (Gracie). She’s this tiny 2 year old female (of course fixed) who is 1/3 the size of a normal cat. A real runt. But she is a bully! LOL! and my favorite because she is a survivor. I picked her up when she was about 10 months old….and she didn’t object to the car ride home at all. She is so affectionate, but only to women. She isn’t sure of my husband yet and it’s been a good year! I feel the same way about people who don’t have a painting, print on their walls. And those who refuse to adopt a cat or dog. I have nothing in common with them, and don’t want to know them. There are so many stories, sad, tragic and happy to relate. Perhaps we need a society of sharers to keep us going?

    Cat fights are pretty rare here, but I have to say when they happen, it’s the others who are picking on Willow, the crippled cat. And he is such a pacifist that he doesn’t strike back. Just takes it on the chin. I’m the one who takes offense! And goes after the bullies. LOL!

    Hugs! Jane


  11. Jane Dougherty Says:

    No animals, no paintings and no books = people not worth bothering with. The fights here are because Trixie doesn’t get on with other cats and throws her (considerable) weight about. She fights with the tom cats that hang around outside looking for girls. She just can’t walk away from a brawl.
    Lots of hugs to your Willow. We have little black cat who has some kind of brain damage caused by malnutrition and parasite infestation. She falls over even in her sleep because she’s lost her sense of balance. I don’t think she knows she’s a cat either… Jane

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ladynyo Says:

    Brava Trixie! I don’t know how long you have had your little black cat, but if she is young enough….she should recover some of her balance with a proper diet: I use a grain free kibble, with bone broth (beef) I’ve been making for two years in the crockpot…on 24/7….and raw chicken gizzards and hearts a couple of times a week. Try a raw diet with this little girl (and with bone broth to supplement) and you might see a difference in a few weeks/months. Balance can be restored in time. Good luck to this little kittie. Right now, Sasha, a big male (of course neutered) is turning over my waste basket by my computer and spreading junk out on the floor. Sasha is a special case: Almost 3 years ago a very ignorant neighbor came to my gate and started yelling that there was a cat on his porch….and he was spreading poison to kill him. (Lime) I went up there to see what was going on, and this little kitten (maybe 4 months old) came up to me immediately and begged to come home with me. I immediately tucked him in my blouse (thunderstorm started) and we ran home. Sasha rules the roost here. He sleeps under the covers with his head on my husband’s pillow…only his head uncovered, and he snores. LOL! They are such bundles of love and confidence usually. Give Trixie a kiss and your other baby. Try that diet for the unbalanced one. Sweet baby.


  13. kanzensakura Says:

    And they don’t bite or scratch out of meaness or revenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hélène Says:

    What cherishing cuddles and purring can do for our human heart…..ah! Delightfully healing…..unconditional love ❤️ . You are fortunate to have such a property that allows you to care for many furring friends, i do miss this now that we live in a tiny apartment in a high rise building. I always love reading you Jane. No matter what you write, your expression in words makes it all come alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jane Dougherty Says:

    Trixie doesn’t like kisses and cuddles, but I’ll pass on the admiration 🙂 The little one is three years old now and eats anything at all which I’ve found is rare with alley cats. Ours have always been pure junk food cat biscuit addicts. The only ones that have eaten ‘real’ food have been the pedigree ones, a Siamese (our first ever cat and the only one I actually bought as a present for husband to be) and a Russian Blue who was dumped by a breeder with unsold kittens. Poor little thing never grew properly and died at age four. I so hate animal breeders, I really do. Trixie is built like a battleship and acts like it. Kisses to Sasha. You must love him dearly to put up with the snoring!


  16. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! I’m laughting at Battleship Trixie! LOL! Poor Russian Blue…such beautiful cats. I hate breeders, too . they just trash cats (literally) that they don’t think will ‘meet the spot’. I would take all of them. What is life for if not to succor and love unconditionally? Kisses to all of yours. And you!


  17. kanzensakura Says:

    Yes indeed. thank you Jane for posting this haibun. Unconditional love is free indeed. animals are so loving and happy (most of them, one like a fat marmalade tom I had years ago was a spoiled grump to everyone but me). The way they love you in return – priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ladynyo Says:

    Ahhh, Helene! You are so kind. My inspiration comes from these cats and dogs, and the birds in the sky, and the wind and the clouds, etc. you know what I am talking about. But when (and if) my writing can reach a heart, I am most grateful. I almost got two baby Nubian goats a few years ago that some jackasses locked in a school down the road in the middle of the summer. Luckily they were seen, but Animal Control didn’t know what to do with them and I was contacted. My husband said No and now??? I am glad he did. They did go to a farm. I am sure some of my citified neighbors don’t appreciate my beautiful rooster at 5am….or my barking dogs at 8, but they stay up all night watching tv, so I don’t feel bad. LOL! Thank you, Helene….I send some cat love to you….a pretty gray girl, Grayson…who is a runt (one third the size of a ‘normal’ cat) and loves everyone! Love to you, Helene!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jane Dougherty Says:

    Thanks 🙂 And distribute the kisses liberally at your place too.


  20. Hélène (Mother Willow) Says:

    You are one special woman. Living among all this life on the ground and above is energizing am sure. Though it probably is demanding at times. We don’t need a rooster here at 5am…..lol we do have a pair of lover bird who have the sweetest chant wake us up on in the summer time. They perch on the bedroom balcony railing and take turns with their song. I can’t seem to find out what kind of birds they are. Big hugs Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, God, YES…priceless. I had a fat grumpy marmalade tom for 10 years….Willow….and he died of cancer. Loved that cat to distraction and he loved me back in the deepest ways!


  22. ladynyo Says:

    Oh! Helene! I would take lover birds over my rooster any day! LOL! There is so much beauty in the world, Helene. Delivered to our doorstep if we open our eyes and hearts! Hugs back, Helene

    Liked by 1 person

  23. ladynyo Says:

    Will do, Jane!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. kanzensakura Says:

    My poor boy threw a clot – horrible. But he was a good boy and loved me to distraction. When I was dating my husband, Sam B would grab his clothes off the hangers in the closet and pull them to the floor – showing my husband who was the alpha male in the house.


  25. paul scribbles Says:

    Immeasurable gift is so true and I see it moving in both directions here between human and animal hearts.Beautiful Haibun.


  26. frankhubeny Says:

    We have only one cat, but her unconditional love is obvious. I am halfway through a book by Allen and Linda Anderson called “Angel Cats”. It looks like you have been an angel to the cats and other animals you have come in contact with.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Bev Says:

    Your love of animals shines pure and clear in your post. I enjoyed the read!


  28. kim881 Says:

    From one crazy cat/dog lady to another – keep doing what you’re doing Jane! The love and trust of an animal is priceless.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. ladynyo Says:

    You betcha, Kim! And we should wear that crown of ‘crazy cat/dog lady’ with pride! LOL! And yes, the love of an animal is priceless. Thank you, Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Bev…..you can’t but love them ….they will trip you up until you do! Thanks, Bev.


  31. ladynyo Says:

    That is very kind of you, Frank. But….I think animals teach us such strong lessons of compassion and empathy. They change us, hopefully for the better. I’ll look for that book, Frank. Thanks for reading, your comment and for suggesting that book.


  32. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Paul. These animals ask for so little. They teach me more about compassion than I could ever learn elsewhere. And yes, it moves from heart to heart. Thank you, Paul


  33. ladynyo Says:

    Oh, Toni…that is so sad. We can never predict when the end. But it comes and we just have to make the best of it. My Gally, tonight …won’t eat. At 12, I know that his days are ending, but he is so strong and loving. He’s on the couch right now watching tv. Sam B sounds like quite the dog! And yes, they do show us their place in the house and the universe! LOL!


  34. kanzensakura Says:

    Dr. Samuel Beckett (after the Quantum Leap character) was a 32 pound marmalade monster who had a prissy walk, just like John Wayne. He had a tiny little mew but he loved me and let everyone know it. He once smacked my mom when she said a bad word to me while she was visiting me. She looked rather shocked too.


  35. Victoria C. Slotto Says:

    Of course I will relish this because I am quite helplessly in love with rescuing animals. I always thought I would be volunteering at the Humane Society after retirement but I just can’t…I would be bringing them all home with me. Brava for what you do.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Grace Says:

    I don’t have pets but I can empathize with dogs or cats being lifetime companions and giving that unconditional love ~

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Miss Stacy Says:

    i have so much respect for you! yes. animals are living things, they have feelings and souls. wonderful write.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) Says:

    So many animal souls in gratitude to you. But what they give to you is immensely valuable.. the joy of caring, the joy of sharing, imagine all of them being strays I wonder who once had them and let them be neglected.


  39. kim881 Says:



  40. ladynyo Says:

    It’s a spiral of life, Bjorn. People might have started out with one cat and then decided that they didn’t want it….cats need food and they do need a bit of care…like neutering but here in the South….people just throw them out. And of course none of them are neutered…so more and more kittens are born (and die). It’s total human ignorance and selfishness, Bjorn. I’ve had animal control employees tell me that animals don’t feel pain, (neighbor too) and that dogs like to sleep on concrete….in the Winter! Jesus! With these kind of mentalities humanity doesn’t progress much. Who said (Gandhi? de Tocqueville? that “you can measure the level of civilization by the way it treats its animals”. And I get unconditional love (mostly) from these critters where I certainly don’t from most Christians…I thought (stupidly) this was a given in Christianity…but I see it is a huge argument. I have given over the stupid theological arguments (and they are endless) and have just decided to practice UL with animals….humans? Maybe, and maybe not.


  41. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Miss Stacy. Who can doubt this at all? Any chance contact with animals will certainly reveal this. They enrich our lives so much….what we can do for them is very small in the scheme of things. Thank you for reading and your comment.


  42. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Grace, for reading and for your comment. I am sorry you don’t have pets, but some people have allergies.


  43. ladynyo Says:

    Victoria! LOL! That was my problem, too. I was a vet tech, then a surgical tech, and I brought home all sorts of cats and dogs….a blind miniature poodle…Gigi….who was brought in to be killed…the two elderly sisters didn’t want her anymore….She used to ride the vacuum here…and she was a wonderful dog. Poodles are so smart! My vets always knew that when someone threw a box of kittens in their driveways, I would take them home. Kittens are something I love most of all…puppies are good, but they are more demanding. As I age, I realize that my energies are flagging, but there are so many animals out there. I feed 8 stray cats in an alley a couple of blocks away, three times a week…and have for 7 years. I have adopted as many as I could get home with,, but I have to applaud my dear husband: he has to take shots because he’s so allergic…but after 20 years, his allergies have given up the ghost! LOL! I have a stupid sister in law who called me the other day, to sell some anti[-aging products: the implication is that “I’m not doing much with my life” and I could have crowned her. Of course she has never read any of my poems or my books, but for Christ’s sake! Selling anti-pimple cream???? LOL! I’d rather feed strays. LOL! Thank you, Victoria…you are a kindred soul.


  44. ladynyo Says:

    HAH!!! What a wonderful story!!! And I can well believe it. My second Willow, a 25 lb. marmalade used to have his own “Willow Song”….and he would wait hiding in a tree (at that weight he wasn’t fooling me that he was hiding….many parts of that cat were sticking out the maple tree) and only come down when I sang his sad song. LOL! I had a tuxedo , Thumper, who had a prissy walk. Put him to sleep at 14 because of heart problems. I loved that cat to distraction. But Dr. Samuel Beckett slapping your mom….Priceless!!!!


  45. wolfsrosebud Says:

    You and George Washington have something in common; he loved his dogs! We had a dear cat who passed a few years ears back at 20 years.


  46. ladynyo Says:

    I thought you were going to say we both had wooden teeth. LOL! I had implants on two sides *unfinished” a while ago. never again. LOL! twenty years! That is a wonderful age, and it says a lot about your love and care for your kitty. Bless you!


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