My Secret Weapon for Healing Brussels


I have a secret weapon that makes people smile, almost without exception; that makes people stop in the street, and that leads to wonderful warm connections that otherwise wouldn’t happen.


What is this weapon of wonder, you ask?


It’s my d429 Mint Teaog: my canine companion, my best friend, my fur ball of love, my little buddy, my mascot, Billy — otherwise known as the Wondrous Wander Pup.


Don’t roll your eyes and stop reading, please! This isn’t just a cutesie blog post about yet another puppy to compete with all the hilarious cat images on Facebook and Twitter.


Like the cats who deflected social media traffic from police anti-terrorist activities during the Brussels Lockdown in November, Billy is gifted with a purpose.


Billy is here to bring joy to those around him.

It’s taken me some time to see the pattern.

It’s not just between me and Billy. When he accompanies me on my wanders around Brussels, it’s as if we’re in a bubble of happiness that envelopes anyone near us.

I watch, transfixed, as Billy turns sad, bored or angry-looking faces into smiles a mile wide. Those smiles then turn into smiles between me and that person, and very often, into a conversation.


So what Billy’s actually doing is creating connection.


And if I had to name the one thing I think will help Brussels heal from the terrorist attacks and build relationships between cultural groups in the future, it would be connection.

Talking to each other, really listening, creating ideas for bringing tourists back to our fabulous city and living more kindly together.

This is what I mean by connecting with each other. It’s the type of interaction that’s necessary between all of us: neighbours, people on the street, the media, the politicians at every level of government across the city, the country, Europe and the world.

047 Billy Tram Polar Turq LogoI’ve been noticing wondrous little things happening with Billy

since I adopted him a year ago, but since the bombings, and over this weekend in particular, it has hit me like a blast to the heart.

On the metro Saturday afternoon, Billy sitting on my lap (he’s a curious little chap who gets bored with looking at people’s feet — wouldn’t you?).

I see the man across from me actually beaming at us. Big smiles all around.

Then, as the fellow waits to get off at his stop, he looks me in the eye, smiles again and says we look so happy he wishes he’d taken a picture of us.

Lunch with a friend — who I met because of Billy and who continues to be enamoured of him — and a friend of hers we didn’t know, followed by a walk in the park. During our afternoon coffee break, the ladies are taking turns being photographed with Billy.

529 Poem Ladies

Last weekend at the Bourse (Stock Exchange), sitting on the ground at the memorial to those who were injured and died in the bombings.


We’re sitting beside Sarah and her friend from Ghent who came to pay their respects and leave a poem on the asphalt.


Billy is so relaxed in the peaceful and calm atmosphere he’s lying on his back, feet in the air. One of the TV journalists picks Billy out of the crowd and says, with a big smile on her face, ‘Look at that little dog!’. I’m not sure but he may have made it into her live report.


People stopping in the street and gesticulating madly in cars as they drive by, admiring Billy in his neon green glow-in-the-dark collar that he’s so proud of.


The man in the bus with his arm leaning on the windowsill. Billy, on my lap again, tapping the man on the arm with his paw to signal he wanted to be patted — and waiting for the man to reach over and rub his head.

PorteNoire w Marla


You need to know that this is an introverted dog who never touches strangers or lets them touch him. To be able to tell that man that he had just joined Billy’s VIP Club… now that was a truly magical moment.


He is a people magnet.

A magnet that attracts those with positive energy, who have good hearts and kindness to share. I’ve made new friends because of Billy. Not because we’re all dog lovers, but because they were drawn to him before they ever noticed me on the other end of the leash.

Wendy&Billy Logo R

So I believe that exposing people around the city to Billy (and his canine companions) is a powerful way to set an example of how we should deal with each other.


Be kind, smile, pay attention to the little things. Spread some love.

I’ve been experiencing kindness a lot since last November as I smile and exchange pleasantries with people on a regular basis (including the armed soldiers guarding our city, as they deserve respect and kindness too).


I know now that I have a secret weapon to help accelerate the healing of Brussels, and maybe even the building of cultural bridges.

I’m not naïve, it’s a small contribution, but if we all do our own little bit, imagine what monumental change we can create.

426 Billy GrafittiFrom Billy, with love.


2 Responses to “My Secret Weapon for Healing Brussels”
  1. Marcia says:

    Wendy what a beautiful, wondrous blog and what a gift you and Billy are to the world. Thanks for sharing. xx

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