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  • Betsy Peets
    Betsy Peets

    One Dog, Many Hearts

    They say we cannot serve two masters. It recently became abundantly clear to me that a Cairn Terrier certainly can, and with grace. Doogie is one of those dogs who would jump off a cliff to save the life of someone he cares about.  He is also one of the lucky dogs who has two humans and two homes.

    Doogie lives with Bette on Lopez Island, Washington.  They go on daily walks to the village and visit the small businesses for a doggie treat, a cup of coffee or a good book to read on a cold, rainy island day.  Bette has a beautiful home and yard for him to run free, chase bunnies and bark at birds. 

    Doogie's other human is Ryan, Doogie’s trainer.  Ryan has done extraordinary things with Doogie: he has titles all the way across the page and then some.  They are quite a team to watch in agility, rally and obedience, barn hunt, earthdog, dock diving and the conformation rings. 

    Inside the conformation ring with Ryan at the end of the lead Doogie is a Terrier in the best meaning of the word.  Alert and walking with confidence he struts around the ring with pride, a true and lovely sight. 

    On the Agility course Doogie is bonded with Ryan and reacts quickly to any direction he is given whether verbal or physical.  He is low, lean and speedy going over jumps, through tunnels, over A-frames. Obedience and Rally are equally enjoyable to watch with Doogie’s attention firmly affixed to Ryan —  working hard not to break into a wiggle worm or follow an interesting scent.

    Whatever the “task at paw” is, Doogie and Ryan have a routine when they leave the ring. Without fail Doogie’s tail is wagging furiously; his eyes remain fixed on Ryan while they scuffle and tug and bounce on the floor in celebration of whatever they just accomplished.


    Doogie spends about an equal amount of time at both Ryan and Bette’s homes which are several hours away from each other.  Yet he is so well adjusted and his heart clearly belongs to both humans. Somehow this marvelous dog has learned to understand the difference between Ryan and Bette and shows his love for them equally but in very different ways. 

    On a trip to Pennsylvania a group of us sat and watched as Doogie and Ryan came out of the agility ring after a very successful run.  After their scuffle and play celebration was complete they came toward those of us sitting outside the ring. 

    Bette, Betsy, Vicki, Ryan

    Doogie's tail, wagging as always, switched from 60 wags per second to 120 wps when he saw Bette. His body language told me he wanted to leap to her, knock her to the floor, and kiss her all over. 

    Instead Doogie maintained composure and walked calmly and directly in front of Bette.  As he approached her his athlete's eyes softened from an agility speed-demon's sharp focus to a warm gentle gaze of love. When he positioned himself just so, right in front of Bette, he lifted his front end up and gently put both paws on her knees and reached with his soft muzzle to give her a kiss.  Bette picked him up and he snuggled to her warmly, completely transforming the exuberant agility dog he was moments before. In a short, sweet minute he went from wild agility dog to loving lap puppy.

    It brought tears to my eyes. Dogs see deep into our souls, they know who we are, how we love and how we should be cared for during our short time together. 

    Ryan and Doogie. Photo  © Sundog Pet Photography


    Recommended Comments

    Betsy! What a wonderful article about a very special dog whose heart is equally bound and loyal to each of BOTH humans he lives with, Bette and Ryan. This is as close to an ideal living arrangement as any dog (or human) could have-- getting love and gifts from each "parent" whether they live with them or not.

    Love and kudos,


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    What sensitive and well written article!  Your words allowed the reader to "see" this vignette and "feel" the bond shared by the humans and the Cairn.  Thanks for allowing me to enjoy this experience.  



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