The Dog Who Took Monarch Butterflies Under Her Wing

Bella made sure her caterpillars made it from pupa, to chrysalis, to the skies.

Editor’s Note: America’s Best Pet Pals is a nationwide search for the animal friendships that make you laugh, cry, and purr. Reader’s Digest will be honoring the best in pet friendship in print, online, and on social media. This is a finalist in our “Animals to Animals” category. Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote for Bella. To see our full list of finalists, go to and vote in each category.

One day, we saw our pit mix, Bella, sniffing and gently pawing a branch on one of our milkweed plants. She then began to whine. When we went over to investigate, we noticed there were Monarch caterpillars munching on our bushes. With regular visitors to the backyard like wild birds, squirrels, and the neighbor’s cat, we decided to transfer the caterpillars to a butterfly habitat.

My young daughter raised the caterpillars that summer, but Bella decided it was her job to protect them. She followed the butterfly habitat from the house to the yard and would sleep under the table it rested on at night. We have no idea why she had become so attached to the butterflies, but she had.

When they metamorphized and my daughter released them, Bella seemed to understand this was part of the lifecycle. However, she became worried when the last one didn’t fly away. She very gently put her nose to the reluctant butterfly, who then crawled onto Bella’s nose. She pointed her nose northward and audibly sighed, which the butterfly took as a cue to begin migration.

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