What is a Heart Dog?

Last week I was telling the story of Molly and her medical difficulties on the dog’s Facebook page, I mentioned that she was my “Heart Dog” and I have always used this term and have heard a few others use it too, but one person sent me a message wanting to know what a Heart Dog was. 

 I pondered the question and even did a “Google” search.  Usually there are thousands and thousands of articles on any subject, but “What is a Heart Dog” was almost blank, there were only a few mentions and one was a Blog.  I was surprised, so I sent out a message to my Facebook followers and ask them, to explain to the best of their ability, “What is a Heart Dog”.  I received many responses from all over, some even from others countries.   The most amazing thing I discovered is most people don’t have any idea how to explain what a “Heart Dog” is, so I will try to explain it from my point of view, with the help from some readers.

Molly & Clancy

A “Heart Dog” from a point of view of many …
“They know when I'm sick or sad and will stay right by me, tending to me, making sure that I'm okay. They lick away my pain and my sadness. And they cover me with their body so to protect me from whatever it is that would dare upset me.  They have that part of my heart that only they can reach.  It is one who is so sweet and a little different from the rest and who will lick and love on you even on his/her final day, and they at you with those big brown eyes.”
“They start a passion in me that I did not know was even there. They awakened a new kind of bond that I could have with a living being. She showed me what it was like to have unconditional love and support.”
“They were so deeply embedded in my soul, I swear she was the only living being that 'got me'....perhaps I humanized her, but communication never needed to be conscious with her, she could read me. I believe she lived to please one else mattered to her and I even considered her in major life decisions, and what the impact on her would be. 
“A “Heart Dog” can wiggles into your heart and becomes one with you and your spirit. There is a special bond between you and your spirit or “Heart Dog”. They completely understand you without words or expression. with each other. Often times I think our “Heart Dog” comes along during a time of emotional hardship or longing for something deeper than ourselves. They often fill a void and the relationship grows from there.”
“A “Heart Dog” doesn't necessarily have a bigger place in your heart, but rather the opposite. This dog would be very sensitive, one that would wear it's feelings on its paw. One that would go out of its way to please you, even if that meant doing something that it didn't particularly want to do. But your approval, praise and to see your smiling face will mean everything to this dog.  This dog's heart would be as big as the Border Collie’s personality. This dog would have something special, something not many people have, and that is the ability to love with all its heart, forever and unconditionally. The “Heart Dog” dog doesn't hold a bigger place in your heart; rather you hold a place in their heart that leaves little room for anything else.  I like others who lose a special pet felt like there could never be another dog that could fill that void.  And well, in some ways that is true. But the heart is not made up of percentages. One dog doesn't take 45% leaving only 55% available for the rest of your life. The heart expands and allows others to enter in but never replace that part of your heart. Because really you don't even have possession of it anymore. You gave it away to them. It is theirs to take with them.”
I loved to get the definitions but one that summed it up best was “Anyone who really does not understand “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.”  I feel this is true because it means so many different things to so many people.  One statement that came out many times, “They Saved Me” and I’m sure they did.  I have a cousin that I love very much and when Elaine and I got married 22 years ago, we had a dog that I got for the kids, I thought they needed her but she soon became my dog.  Well I fell in love with her and she was a great dog, but Elaine didn’t particularly care for her.  Once “Patches” got into the trash while I was at work.  Elaine called me and stated that if this doesn’t stop, “you’ll have to get rid of her”.  I needed to vent because I was hurt and told the story to my cousin and she stated… “Well…you can always get another wife” Patches stopped getting into the garbage and Elaine and I laugh about it now.
People can have a special bond with dogs, some more than others, from a reader that lost her dog about 6 months ago,   “My dog was everything to me.  My Heart, soul and body. I still can't get over her lost. I have to sleep with her collar every night next to my heart.  I do believe Dogs go to Heaven. The other night I cried myself to sleep and prayed to the Lord to give her a hug for me. I told him I was sure she was setting in his lap. I prayed and wished I could just see and hold her again.....well...that night was the first time I had ever dreamed of her. She was playing and having a good time. I called her name and she came to me running so fast. We hugged and kissed and held onto each other. I thank the Lord that morning for letting me see her again. I honestly feel that he answered my prayer. So I know she is in Heaven and I WILL SEE HER AGAIN SOON!”
Sometimes we don’t realize the bond is so strong until it’s too late. Patches was a wonderful dog and lived with Elaine and me until the end.  When we worked at the Vet’s office in Louisville (Elaine worked there too) it became time to send Patches to the “Bridge”, we took her in and during lunch when the office was quite... We put her on the table, I couldn’t do it, in fact, I couldn’t even be in the room and left.  Elaine was with her and watched Patches take her last breath.   I’m angry now at myself that I left; I should have stayed in there for Patches, it was my duty and she always stayed with me during my tough times.
A reader sent me a tribute to their dog and ended the letter with this line…”We had to put her to sleep and I put my nose to hers and felt her last breath on my face and she went off to the Rainbow Bridge.”
Anyone who really does not understand by just reading “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.
Give your dog a hug...  Ken
Shuck's Border Collies Facebook Page