I Love You, Dog

The boy was born on a Wednesday, the same day his father picked up a puppy from the shelter. Though the world was a scary place at first and thoughts were only emotions and feelings, the boy sensed the puppy. The puppy sensed the boy, as well.

It wasn’t long before the puppy was sleeping on the floor in the baby room. Not long after that, the puppy and the boy connected in thought if not in words. 

“Hi, I’m Boy.”

“Hi, I’m Dog.”

And so the bond was made. 

What the parents would hear is a baby’s coo or gibberish, and what they would see is the puppy’s floppy ears perk up and its tail wag from side to side. What really happened were exchanges of joy.

“I love you, Dog.”

“I love you, Boy.”

As they grew, the puppy stayed with the boy and the boy played with the puppy. Bits of food was shared from the plate to the bowl. They ran and played, jumped in leaves, slept at the same times. When the boy went off to school, the puppy—now a full grown dog—waited by the door or on his blanket in the boy’s room. 

“I missed you, Boy,” he would say with a wag of its tail, a bark and several kisses to the face. 

“I missed you, Dog,” the boy would respond with a hug, rub of the ears and a kiss on the snout. 

“I love you, Boy.”

“I love you, Dog.”

And they grew together, the boy always spending time with the dog, the dog always happy to see the boy. They were the best of friends. The dog would sit and watch his games, happy to be on a leash at the foot of one of the parents so he could be near the boy. And the boy would always look for the dog, happy he was able to be there.

And so it went, a bond stronger than anything grew tighter each day.

“I love you, Dog.”

“I love you, Boy.”

The boy was sixteen when he knew sadness—true sadness—for the first time in his life. He had noticed the dog struggling to walk, struggling to eat. His tail always wagged, but he was rarely able to play. 

He sat on his floor, scooted onto the dog’s blanket, and lifted him into his arms. They sat, quietly, the boy holding the dog on his lap, listening to the slowing breaths. 

“I love you, Dog.”

“I love you, Boy.”

The dog breathed his last. The boy cried.

For the first time in his life, the boy was alone. No Dog to talk to, to bring him joy, to pet and feed pieces of his meal to. He picked a spot in the yard, one in the sun where the dog liked to lay. He didn’t take the help of his father and dug the hole himself. Wrapped in his blanket, the boy laid the dog gently in his final bed, then covered him as tears flowed down his cheeks. He made a small cross out of scrap wood and carved the word DOG in it. He placed it at the head of the grave, sat and stared quietly. 

The boy took a deep breath, let it out and whispered, “I love you, Dog.”

As if the dog was still there, the boy felt his nose nuzzle his arm. “I love you, Boy.”


If you cried at the end of this story, please know you are not the only one. I wrote this one day on my lunch break at work back in November of 2022. I had to wipe tears from my eyes and compose myself before getting back to work. 

Part of the beauty of the relationship of a child and a dog is how pure it tends to be, especially when they are introduced to each other early on. That type of love is something completely unbound by fear of each other. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.


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