Finding your Heart Dog: A Story of Senior Dogs and Timeless Love

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 21, 2014

Learn more about Aki Yamaguchi’s Heart Dog project by clicking here, and check out the Bordernerd on Instagram for more heartwarming pictures 🙂

Jazzy came into Aki Yamaguchi’s life timid and fearful. But Aki saw the good within Jazzy and pushed herself to bring this special pup’s true nature to light.


“I can never get my head around how anyone can abandon a dog that has given you ten plus years–its entire life. They can’t choose us. We choose them.”

After working with Jazzy every day for months, she blossomed into a more confident and driven dog. For the next 7 years, Jazzy and Aki trained as a search and rescue team until an injured leg resulted in an early exit from a job they both loved. 

But they weren’t ready to retire just yet. Jazzy visited nursing homes and hospitals as a pet therapy dog and, over time, Aki realized that this unassuming, bashful pup had become her door to understanding dogs–from their behavior, to their humor, to their capacity for love. 


“…I buried my face in her fur and placed my hand on her warm fluffy chest, her paws wrapped around it — I could let go of all those worries for that moment.” 

When Aki faced hurdles in her personal life, Jazzy and Cooper, her other retired search and rescue dog, were there not only to comfort her but to push her to chase her quirky ideas and her dogs’ innate humor through the art they so readily inspired in her. 


“I’m always here when you need me.”

“Heart Dog” tells the story of Aki, Jazzy and Cooper’s journey—where they come from, how she met her future heart dogs, and how their special relationship impacted the lives of so many in need.


“…And I know I have my ‘Heart Dog’— that once, or twice if you are very, very lucky, in a lifetime soul dog. It is almost cruel to be given such a gift, only for it to be taken away in such short years.” 

All proceeds from Heart Dog book sales will be donated to the food and care of the Border Collies still waiting for their forever homes– but she needs your help to make this happen. 

Learn more about the Heart Dog project by visiting Aki’s Kickstarter page, and help support the publication of this special, beautiful and much needed project.



This post is sponsored by BarkPack: The world’s first poo-tique talent agency and production company built by and for dogs. 

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 21, 2014

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