Dog History: Billie Holiday once had a dog who caused quite the public stir

American blues singer Billie Holiday (1915 - 1959) singing with an orchid in her hair, early 1950s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American blues singer Billie Holiday (1915 - 1959) singing with an orchid in her hair, early 1950s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) /

Thanks to the release of The United States vs. Billie Holiday, a new film documenting the legal struggles of the singer, we are getting a renewed interest in the woman sometimes known as Lady Day. And that includes getting a fresh look at her love for dogs, which led to one shocking and even panic inducing public moment.

According to The Showbiz Cheatsheet, while many people know Billie Holiday either for her musical talents or her legal issues, there is something that you may not know. Holiday was a tried and true dog lover. In fact, in her autobiography the singer mentioned her affinity for dogs quite often. She even said that one of her dreams in life was to care for dogs.

In her own words, Holiday explained, “Look at my big dream! It’s always been to have a big place of my own out in the country, someplace where I could take care of stray dogs and orphan kids.”

But this appreciation for dogs is not what caused a bit of drama in public. Instead, it all has to do with her beloved Mister, a Boxer, that she had to leave behind while she was in prison.

How Billie Holiday’s dog created a bit of public panic

After being released from prison Billie Holiday tried to return home in a quiet way so that she wouldn’t make a scene. But she didn’t count on her pup and how much he may have missed her. In fact, she didn’t even think the Boxer would remember her after all that time and how much she had changed over the course of a year.

However, Mister not only remembered his owner, he was determined to show her all the love she had been missing from him. And it was because of his excitement over his mom’s return that things got a bit out of hand.

According to Holiday,

"Man, how cheap I played that dog! He not only recognized me, but in a flash he leaped at me, kicked my hat off, and knocked me flat on my can in the middle of that little station. Then he began lapping me and loving me like crazy."

And while that may have been quite innocent, a woman who did not realize what was happening screamed for help thinking that a dog was attacking this woman (at the time she didn’t realize who it was). A bit of panic ensued and suddenly there were crowds and flashing bulbs everywhere, as people not only realized who was under that Boxer, but also that Billie Holiday was out of prison.

While Mister was clearly excited to see his mom, his excitement completely derailed her attempts to reenter society quietly. But how can any of us blame the pup for being so happy to have Holiday home?

Clearly dogs don’t forget us just because we have been away for a while. And Mister proved that with his devotion to Billie Holiday.

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Did you know that the singer was a dog lover? Had you heard the story of Billie Holiday and Mister before? Tell us in the comments below.