Is There Such a Thing as a Canine Soulmate?

Is There Such a Thing as a Canine Soulmate?

We’ve asked several pet parents to weigh in on the trends, topics and controversial issues that impact their daily lives as pet owners. Please note that the opinions expressed are those of the individual writers and do not represent the viewpoints of Pet360.

The Urban Dictionary defines a soul mate as “a person with whom you have an immediate connection the moment you meet—a connection so strong that you are drawn to them in a way you have never experienced before.” 

Try replacing “person” with “dog” in that definition. 

Roxanne Hawn, an award winning blogger at Champion of My Heart, recently released the book “Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate.” The book chronicles the loss of Hawn’s dog, Lilly, a Border Collie she adopted that was the initial inspiration for the blog. Hawn also provides insights into how others can overcome the loss of their special dog.  

Through the years, Hawn helped Lilly overcome anxiety issues through agility training; then Lilly suffered a severe, rare reaction to a rabies vaccination.  Hawn saw to Lilly’s medical needs for nearly two years after the reaction. Sadly, Lilly died at age 9 of the neurological disorder and side effects from the medication. 

Caregiving on that level can form a tighter bond between humans and pets, but Hawn says that she had an “unusual connection” with Lilly from the moment they first met. 

As Hawn writes in her book, “A heart dog might also be described as the dog of your lifetime. Of all the dogs you’ve had in your life, this one dog takes on an epic, almost heroic status. In some cases, it’s simply fate or love at first sight. You might not know how or why a particular dog captures your heart the most. In other cases, it’s because the dog came into your home or remained at your side during watershed moments—happy ones, sad ones, or otherwise. The term ‘heart dog’ serves as shorthand in certain circles as a way to say, ‘This one is special.’” 

I was dubious that dog parents could have a canine soul mate before reading Hawn’s book. I mean, isn’t that like saying one human child is more special than another? 

I’ve had dogs all of my life and without giving away my age, let’s just say the number of dogs I’ve been privileged to have is many. I’ve had two dogs that were my protectors—one saved me from bullies when I was a kid and another saved me as an adult from being stomped by my horse. I had dogs that I’ve rescued who also rescued me during certain times in my life. 

I’ve had a dog that knew how to fish and went everywhere with us for the nine years we had her and of course, I had Molly, whom we helped overcome the anxieties of her past life. Each dog was special in my eyes and all of them left an imprint on my heart. 

When I read Hawn’s book, though, the intimate details of her grief took me back to the night of April 28, 1996. My Maltese, Angel, lay motionless on the floor. I put my hand on my husband’s arm and told him thorough tears to quit trying to give her CPR. “Let her go,” I told him. “It’s time.” Angel was a graduation present from my husband Dale. Angel and I embarked on the journey of living in our first apartment together. She was there through late-night term paper writing and finals exams in college. When I married Dale, she was the first member of our little four-pawed family. Angel entertained the neighbor kid who came to play with her after school and she survived the other two dogs we brought home. I love music and Angel seemed to enjoy it, too. When a favorite song came on, I would pick her up and we would dance. 

Angel suffered congestive heart failure in the last two years of her life and the condition sometimes caused severe seizures. She was the first dog I cared for through illness and old age. Angel had been in declining health for several days. On the afternoon before she died, I picked her up and took her for a little dance and whispered to her it was OK to go on if she needed to go. She looked up at me and laid her head on my shoulder. I knew the seizure she had that night would be her last. 

When I lost her at age 14, I felt my young adulthood died along with her.   

I was so upset at work the next day that I asked to go home early. For the next several weeks, I fell asleep with Angel’s collar clutched in my hand. A friend painted a box with Angel’s likeness so I could eventually keep her collar and tags there. 

When we finally adopted our first rescue three months later and I felt joy returning to my life when we played fetch, Dale told me, “I never thought I would see you smile again.” 

I have grieved the loss of all of my pets, not just dogs, but our many cats as well. Looking back, I did grieve Angel’s loss especially hard. Does that qualify her as my heart dog? Maybe. I hadn’t thought of Angel as my canine soul mate before, but I’m certainly open to that possibility now. 

What do you think? Do you have a canine soul mate? Tell us about it in the comments below.