Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

Helping dogs on the road to forever, forever finding ourselves as we walk that road with them.

Thirty Days of Thanks Day 7: Heart and Soul


This morning as I was checking my Facebook news feed, a post came through from Monique Anstee of The Naughty Dogge, a training center based up in Victoria, British Columbia. I often find useful and insightful thoughts through following the page on Facebook. Today, she writes about “soul dogs”…or as I think they’re more commonly identified state side, “heart dogs.”

But then as I thought about my two boys, I got to thinking, maybe there are heart dogs, and maybe there are soul dogs. One of the definitions for heart if you do a quick Google search says “regarded as the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions, esp. love or compassion.” Do the same search for soul, and it comes back “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal…a person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.”

In so many ways, Ollie holds my heart and is the key to so many other dogs we have supported. While he’s almost-but-not-entirely perfect (don’t tell him or my husband that), he’s been able to roll with and support every single foster dog we’ve brought home, and also taught them how to be a dog and accept human love with the same wide eyed and trusting affection he seemed to have from day one he came to us almost 3 years ago. Also, it never escaped us that on his left side, he’s got a spot that looks like a heart.

ImageI adore him, and have loved and felt compassion to bounds I didn’t think possible through adopting Ollie.

But if what is written below is true about soul dogs, then Balton most certainly is mine. Somehow, every new day with Balton allows me to find some part of myself that had been hidden or overlooked. It’s hard to really describe completely, and the intangibility of that somehow can only be reflected in our immaterial souls.


I cried a little bit when I read this, because it hit me so hard, and if ever there was something written by someone else that sums up our relationship, it would be written below.

“To really understand some words, we must know their opposites; for example, you cannot understand ‘fast’ without knowing ‘slow’. The same goes of appreciating beauty, if you have never seen ugly. And likewise, you cannot understand good, without knowing bad. That is where our dogs come in….

We as dog-owners will experience different levels of bonding with our dogs. We have dogs that we love, then we have dogs that connect to us on a whole different level; they read our minds, they know our actions before we have even had more than a flicker of a thought of the action – they become a part of us. I define these as soul-dogs. 

The Soul Dogs are almost always the ‘bad dogs’ or dogs that have been a struggle, or made us work way harder than we had intended. By pushing us and making us dig-deep to get them to become what we needed them to be, they truly teach us what ‘good’ means. And in the process of turning your monkey from a challenge to good, you will develop a bond that people with more normal dogs won’t comprehend. You must experience both opposites of a word to really appreciate what the power of that word means. Most Soul Dogs forced that upon us.

It is only through experiencing and understanding bad that we can begin to appreciate the good. If you’ve only ever had good, you don’t have a reference point to be able to fully appreciate exactly how great ‘good’ can be.

And when you do get to work through that with a dog, you will have a Soul-Dog that only those who have walked in your shoes will be able to comprehend.”

Monique Anstee
Victoria, BC

So, yeah, I think I have in my life a heart dog and a soul dog, and I am so profoundly grateful for both, from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul.



Author: faithtrustnpups

Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups is a combination blog for animal welfare, humane education/positive training, recognizing the beautiful bond that exists between pets and their people, and other fun stuff. I share information about adoptable pets in the DC metro area, promote animal rescue and resources to support adopters and fosters, and share stories and lessons related to the dogs I care for. Much of my writing is for especially my "foster failure" with some specific fear-based issues. In an effort to help understand often wonderful, sometimes challenging dogs like him better, I learn to understand myself. Together, we share our stories, and walk together, leash in hand, and in building faith and trust within one another and within ourselves.

4 thoughts on “Thirty Days of Thanks Day 7: Heart and Soul

  1. Awwwww, what a blessing to have both! Your yin and yang. They are, I’m sure, equally happy to have found your heart and soul!


  2. Pingback: Pet Blogger Gift Exchange: Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

  3. I was led to this post through the Pet Blogger’s Gift Exchange, and it is so lovely!

    I lost my pair of fourteen year old dogs this summer, and they were my Yin and Yang, my Heart and Soul, though I defined them a bit differently. Freya, my Elkhound, was so needy and affectionate that she captured my heart. My soul dog, Lasya, a Chow/GSD mix, was my calm, dependable constant, and also very luckily a naturally good dog, because she could not be tamed. She always seemed like the wild part of me, the reminder that we all belong to the earth.

    My new dog, Ruby? Well, she has taken over my life and inspired my blog, so it will be interesting to see what roles she embodies on our journey together.

    I’m happy to have found your blog, and have added you to my regular reading list 🙂


  4. Pingback: Dear Balton: One Year In the Life of You | Faith, Trust, & Foster Pups

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