And Then There Was Hayley

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 11:45am

By Danielle Sullivan

It was a typical Saturday morning in Brooklyn. I was showering when my kids began knocking on the bathroom door, explaining that a pet adoption van was parked outside our building and “could we just go look? Pleeeeze?”

It had been a tough year. My nine-year-old daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with a chronic disease. As a family, we were still adjusting to Kate’s condition, and she was feeling pretty terrible, not to mention depressed, from her ailments. Her eyes lit up when I said, yes, we could “just look.”

Among the various adorable dogs and puppies was one grungy, older Chihuahua mix who had instantly bonded with Kate. They were face-to-face the entire time, and my kids pleaded and begged collectively to bring her home. A half-hour later she was ours, and we named her Hayley.

We learned that Hayley had been abused. She literally screamed in horror anytime any one of us picked up our hand to wave or scratch our heads. She also had a deep scar on the top of her head and a few ticks. Her fur needed serious grooming, and she was not housebroken.

We gave her a bath and a good meal and then, immediately after, Kate took charge of Hayley’s issues. When she screeched, Kate comforted her. When she had an accident, Kate walked her to show her the proper potty place. When she just seemed nervous, Kate reassured her, “It’s OK, Hayley,” and followed up with multiple hugs and kisses.

While Hayley surely benefitted from Katelyn’s love, I learned firsthand that there is perhaps nothing better than taking care of a dog and giving and receiving the unconditional love only a pup can bring to sick child (or adult). There was no better remedy for Kate than to care for this abused little dog. Seven years later, they have helped each other very much to heal. Hayley no longer is afraid of us or anyone else. Kate just turned 16, and she and Hayley are closer than words could convey. It’s been said that we save dogs when we adopt them, but I think we often forget how many dogs actually save us.

Danielle Sullivan

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Danielle also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Find her on her blog, Some Puppy To Love, Twitter or Facebook.


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Lisa F.

Thanks for the beautiful story that was a great way to start off my Friday.

selma yellow kidney

this story is very enchanting. These poor animals have to go through so much suffering and pain. I only wish I could take all the animals that are going through this and protect them.

Terry White-Lee

God Bless you. If there were more people like you in the world, more of our abused and neglected animals would live in a happier more peaceful world. Thank You for sharing this touching story.


This story warms the heart for both Hayley and Kate. Thank you for sharing!


Lovely story. It is amazing how the critters we adopt teach us so much about life -- love, patience, understanding. How fortunate for both your daughter and Hayley that their paths crossed.


Hayley sounds like an awesome dog! And Kate sounds like an exceptional girl...hope she no longer has those medical problems. I just loved reading this beautiful story. Thanks, Danielle for sharing it with us!

Betty Seeley

A real heart-warmer! Thank you for sharing the story of Hayley and pointing out the strong bond between animals and humans... especially children! There is no better medicine for body and soul!


Beautiful story and often we forget that sometimes it's the dogs that save us!

Sue Freedman

Our last two pups were shelter pups, and I thank you for bringing Hayley in from the cold. I am mourning for my husband, and your story brought tears to my eyes. God bless you.


What a wonderful story! My heart felt so heavy reading about Hayley's fear and I'm so glad that Kate & your family were able to bring her home & love her. I hope Kate is much better now. I wonder if she is considering working with the ASPCA? She sounds like she'd be great! God bless you all!