Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tracy Calhoun & JJ

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Tracy Calhoun and I am a full time hospice nurse, in addition to being the driver for JJ, a seven-year-old female Golden Retriever, who is a therapy and crisis response dog, working alongside me at our inpatient hospice house.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

While in Seattle, our favorite stop for coffee is, of course, BARK! Espresso, with it's own dog cafe on one side.

What's brewing?

Even if it is 10 degrees below zero, it's always an iced latte for me.

Any treats for you or JJ on this occasion?

While I grab a cookie, since there is always time in a day for a cookie, JJ has the special Pooch's Peanut Butter Latte and gives it a 4 paws up rating.

How were you and JJ united?

I actually caught JJ when she was being born. She had a tiny white "kiss mark" on her forehead and still has a white twinkletoe on one foot.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

JJ was named after one of my nephews, Jaret. It's hard to come up with a girl's name from this, but JJ stuck. Her nickname is ButterButt, because she was so big as a puppy.

Please tell us about your new book.

In 2016, I was approached by a publisher asking if I would be interested in writing a book involving JJ, her hospice work and her day to day life. JJ's Journey tells the story of a therapy dog dedicated to helping humans through crises, tragedy, and loss through love and comfort. While these stories are often emotional, they also highlight the power of the human-animal bond, bringing smiles, laughter and tears. While the topic of hospice can be difficult for people to think about, many of the stories are about living life and helping others, expressed with humor and canine chaos along the way, as only a dog obsessed with bacon, puppies, and swimming can do. Along the way, JJ's sassy voice captions the photos throughout the book.

Cat, postman, rabbit...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball or retriever bumper, but with the very non-retriever like attitude of "No take. Throw. No take." It makes the game a bit of a challenge.

Who is JJ's best pet-pal?

Taz, also known as Cat-dog. He was rescued as a tiny kitten and raised by a pack of Goldens. He sleeps every night curled up with JJ. We haven't had the heart to tell him he's a cat.

Where is JJ's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere she can find a pond to swim in.

She still is trying to convince me that a pond time counts as bath time.

What is JJ's best quality?

Her intuitive nature and ability to seek out those who need her comfort and attention.

If JJ could change one thing about Oregonians, what would it be?

Eat more bacon. And share it with your dog!

If JJ could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

How are you able to pick the people who need you most day after day?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which JJ could speak, who should voice her?

This one is easy, since one of JJ's names for me is BossyPants. It would have to be Tina Fey, bringing life to a very sassy dog!

What advice would JJ give if asked?

During the time of writing these stories, JJ was diagnosed with lymphoma. Even during treatment, she has taught us all how dogs embody the concept of living in the moment. No one has told her she has a life limiting disease, so she continues to live life with zest and work at her second home.

Her motto has become "Barke Diem", a dog's take on Carpe Diem, meaning seize the day.

Visit the JJ Hospice Therapy Dog website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. All best wishes as JJ battles her diagnosis. She sounds like a most remarkable dog, not to mention pet therapist. As a fellow 'driver' these amazing creatures impress on me their ability to span the human/pet connection with grace, goofiness, and a smile in the form of a tail wag. Blessings to you both.

  2. Love the "coffee talk" with our friends!

  3. JJ -- the best pal a grieving spouse can have during the most difficult time. Just love JJ!

  4. Tracy... I just saw this. How wonderful. ❤️.