Tails of Seattle: A pets blog
Heart dogs: David Frei and Belle
Have you ever had one of those special animals in your life that you couldn't have lived without? Who taught you more about living and loving than any other worldly creature? These are heart dogs, once-in-a-lifetime treasures that nest in our hearts and stay forever. In a fitting celebration of them this Valentine's Day week, The Seattle Times pet blog asked seven local dog people to remember and honor their heart dogs in essays and photos.
David Frei was a longtime Seattle resident before moving to New York City in 2002, where he now works for the Westminster Kennel Club and continues to serve as the television co-host for the Westminster telecast Monday and Tuesday night. His new book, "Angel On A Leash" shares the heartwarming and heartbreaking work that his dogs do and have done for children and adults in need.
By David Frei
I really have had four heart dogs. My Brittanys, Teigh and Belle, and later Grace, and then my Cavalier, Angel, all were and continue to be deserving of that title. And while it is really tough to pick one of them over the others, it would have to be Belle (pictured above with David Frei).
It was Belle who was my first therapy dog, and she took me places on the other end of her leash that I had never even thought about before.
I could see the energy change whenever she walked into the room. She brought smiles from children and others who hadn't had much to smile about; words from those who hadn't had much to talk about; a few steps where there had been none before; and just the reality of helping someone get their mind off the challenges they were facing.
It was Belle who really brought home to me the thought that has become my mantra. I had spent most of my life with my show dogs teaching them how to stand, stay, move, and do whatever I wanted them to do.
Belle was the first to show me that we should worry more about what we learn from our dogs as opposed to what we teach them. And as she was changing the lives of those people in need that she visited, she was changing mine, too.
Teigh was there all of the time, too, and Angel and Grace are carrying on for Belle. But she was the first one to take me along with her, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Coming Tuesday: Former Times reporter Marla Williams writes a touching Valentine about Carl, her invincible Rott.