JJ is a 7-year-old golden retriever female who is a Therapy, Hospice, and Crisis Response dog. She’s prone to sassiness and constantly in search of bacon, while often confused by those who meet her with a male Irish Setter of unknown origin, despite wearing flowers on her collar. Tracy Calhoun has been a hospice nurse for 23 years and JJ works three days each week alongside her at an inpatient hospice facility, providing comfort to patients, families, staff, and volunteers. In 2015, a short video of JJ’s work at hospice went viral, sharing the power of the human-animal bond with people across the world.

End of life is a difficult topic for anyone to discuss, and stories including animals can be a more non-threatening bridge to the conversation that everyone will eventually need to face. On JJ’s social media venues, Tracy balances heart wrenching stories with more lighthearted moments in a way to reach out and support not only families we have served in hospice, but the general public. JJ also is a Crisis Response K9, responding to national and local crises offering support and comfort.

In 2016, Tracy was approached to write a book of stories involving JJ, her hospice work, and day to day life. These include stories ofwork and play that make you smile, laugh, and cry. "JJ's Journey: A Story of Heros and Heart" was released in October 2017.

It was during the time of writing these stories that JJ was diagnosed with lymphoma. Even during treatment, she has taught everyone she touches 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. She has inspired thousands to take on the same approach to day to day life, no matter the victories or challenges.

Click here to learn more about JJ's incredible journey

Unfortunately, on December 29, 2017, JJ lost her battle with Lymphoma. While Tracy and so many others are heartbroken, her incredible legacy lives on with donations in her name to The Morris Animal Foundation. The Morris Animal Foundation is a non-profit organization that invests in science that makes the world a brighter place for animals and those who love them. Click here to donate in JJ's name.