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Not a Border Collie but still my best friend


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A tribute to my best friend.




Harley was a Papillon who I adopted 12 years ago, sight unseen because I trusted someone's judgement that he was the dog for me. I had been looking for a Pap, because I wanted a small dog to be a therapy dog and do agility, and I knew so many wonderful Papillons. I had just lost a wonderful 3 year old Dalmatian to genetic kidney disease and I wanted a completely different dog because it felt wrong to look at anotger big dog.


I wanted a gently used dog and applied at several rescues, and had a few disappointments and was starting to wonder if the dog I needed was out there. Then I got a call from a breeder in Colorado who also did rescue, and she had just gotten several dogs that were removed from a woman who had been a good breeder but who had succumbed to dementia and whose dogs had gotten out of hand. She said she had a 2 ish year old male who based on a conversation with my friend Lori would be perfect for me. I had never considered adopting a dog I had never met but something told me that this was right. So I said yes, and he flew from CO to Pittsburgh, PA (the closest non-stop we had to our home in WV).


I drove the 2 hrs to pick him up, filled out the paperwork and they handed me a hot pink crate with a black and white face peering out of it. I opened the door, he threw himself into my arms and we were inseparable pretty much from that point forward.


Harley never made friends with anyone quickly. I was the one he loved and it would take time for him to develop relationships with anyone else. But once you were his friend, he loved you with abandon. He surprised many friends by being stand offish for their first two or three meetings and then suddenly deciding that they were friends now and jumping on their lap and greeting them as if they were long lost relatives.


He was simply the most affectionate dog I have ever known. He loved you back, patting you with his feet, rubbing his head on you like a cat does, gently biting your nose or fingers. I have never known any other dog who would choose to pet me back. He followed me everywhere I went, slept within 5 feet of me pretty much every night and would have bitten someone who tried to hurt me even though he weighed all of 8 lbs.


He was actually a lousy therapy dog, as he was polite to but preferred not to be touched by strangers. If someone felt the need to pet him our deal was I would pick him up so he was human height and he would sniff and then allow himself to be petted, although the expression of distaste was clear. I didn't care that he wasn't a therapy dog candidate.


He was great with other dogs, and especially with puppies, playing with them but teaching them manners.


He was a great agility dog for 4 years, being nationally ranked his first year out and was athletic, responsive and a real team member. Then he had a back injury that paralyzed his legs and ended his career and I couldn't have cared less we couldn't do agility anymore because he survived and had a hopeful prognosis. He had paralyzed back legs and for about 3 days he was mopey and scared, then one morning he woke up, and dragged himself outside with a smile on his face. It was if he decided it was how it was and he was gonna just live his life. Over the next 6 months, he got on his feet and managed to learn how to walk, and then run again. He amazed me, he just did it. It took him a good 9 months to be able to lift his leg and pee instead of squatting but he did it.


Of all the things he did, however, the greatest thing was just being my friend. He was with me through so many life events and sadnesses, and he was such a comfort to me whenever I was hurting. He was always there for a pat and kiss and to curl up on me and protect me from sadness. He loved my husband too, more than I ever saw him love anyone else, but he was oh so my dog.


Harley died on Thursday afternoon, very suddenly from what we can only guess was some kind of blood clot. He had heart disease but was on meds and doing fairly well, and my vet told me that many dogs with his condition had lived for a couple of years after the diagnosis of CHF so long as the meds controlled the disease. I was very hopeful that we would be that lucky, and he has always been so tough and determined. On Thursday, I came home from work and he greeted me happy and wiggling and we had a snuggle and played a bit, and then he coughed, and had what looked like a seizure, and went unconscious. He came to a few minutes later but wasn't really in there and was gasping for breath. We rushed him to the vet and they put the oxygen on and gave him IV Lasix to see if he would respond, but he didn't. He died in our arms.


Its been 2 days and I still am struggling with my sorrow. He is everywhere in our house, and I see him every time I see a shadow or hear a snore. I need him to help me get past this sorrow and hes not here. We are all so sad, even our other dogs seem to be subdued.


We miss him so much.


Thank you for listening to my story and please go hug your beloved pets.





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A dog doesn't have to be a Border Collie to be a good dog or to be the right dog or to be a heart dog. A dog just has to be your good dog, your right dog, and your heart dog. Besides, he's dressed in a Border Collie costume, so I'm sure he was trying to pass as one...


Sorry you have lost him and grateful that you both had each other as long as you were able.

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He went the way we all want to go. We just don't really want anyone we love to go that quickly. I'm so sorry for you. Heck, I keep thinking "when Fergie comes back." And I know she never will.

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I am so sorry for your pain, I am suffering with you.

I think Harley will find a way to help you get through this. They may be be gone physically but they live on in our hearts. And if you look on the edge of here and there, you will see him. He is watching, full of love and sorrow for not being able to lift your heart.

Run free little Harley.

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I have many friends with Papillons - we lovingly refer to them as the pint sized Border Collie. I am so sorry that you lost Harley. Small in stature but large in heart...


"One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: 'here lies one who loved us and whom we loved.' No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."


RIP Harley, you are well loved always.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know this is late but I just wanted to say I am so so sorry and I am sitting here crying for you. My best friend in the world is also a little papillon. She is an amazing dog and I know Harley was too. So sorry for your loss.

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I keep trying to come over here to tell you how sorry I am to hear about your wee man. Harley was obviously such a special dog. What a wonderful time the two of you were able to have together. I have a feeling that he, Zippy and Zachary have already found each other and are having a grand time together. I am thinking of you.

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