2: Matters of the Doggy Heart

2: Matters of the Doggy Heart

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Matters of the Doggy Heart

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.

~Zora Neale Hurston

I have never heard a canine love story quite like the story of J.J. and Bailey. For J.J., a large, black Lab mix, it was love at the first sight of Bailey, a Cairn Terrier.

Bailey was a year and a half old when she came to live with me in January 2000. Her experience with other dogs was limited to a canine companion in her previous home with whom she did not get along. I worried about how Bailey would interact with the many dogs in my neighborhood, and it turned out I was right to worry. It took Bailey years to make friends with only a handful of very sweet dogs. I resigned myself to the idea that she would never get over her fear of larger dogs.

J.J., who originally hailed from Florida, came to live with my neighbor Dianne when Dianne’s daughter, Avery, went to work overseas. J.J. was one of the most obedient and well-behaved dogs I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. He would sit and listen to human conversations with an expression of intent interest on his face. With no proof to the contrary, I am convinced that he did in fact understand everything he heard—including the reason Bailey didn’t like him—because she was afraid after having been attacked by a supposedly “friendly” black dog.

It seemed that no matter how J.J. acted toward her, Bailey wasn’t interested in being his friend. Things changed, however, one night when J.J. came up with an idea. J.J. saw Bailey and me walking past his house, and began to cry for Dianne to let him out. Before she could open the screen door, J.J. turned and ran to the kitchen, then rushed back to the door. Neither of us realized at the time that he ran to get one of his dog treats, which Dianne kept by his dog dish. J.J. ran straight over to Bailey and deposited one of his treats at her feet. Never one to pass up food, Bailey immediately snatched it up while J.J. stood by, smiling and wagging his tail. Dianne and I laughed—commenting that he was taking his courtship of Bailey seriously! We had no idea that first night that J.J. intended to provide Bailey with treats for the rest of her life.

From that night on, every evening before their walk, J.J. would deliver a treat to Bailey. If the treat bowl was empty, J.J. would cry and carry on until Dianne gave him something he considered a suitable present for his best girl. Not that Bailey minded, because this occasionally resulted in the gift of a rawhide or, best of all, a human cookie. Regardless of how delectable the treat, J.J. carried it straight to Bailey and deposited it at her feet. As he did the first time and every time thereafter until Bailey’s death in 2007, J.J. stood smiling and wagging his tail as he watched her enjoy his gift.

And to those who think J.J. must have shared his treats with others, rest assured he did not. Never before he met Bailey, and never after she died. Ever faithful until his death a few years later, J.J. never brought treats to another dog, remaining steadfast in his love and devotion to Bailey, his one true love.

~Katharina Cirko

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