I was asked to write a piece today by a friend of mine, and base it off a popular meme where people are like elves to dogs because we seem to live forever to them. (If you’re interested, the meme originated here. There area a lot of feelings in that thread, so bring tissues if you read it.) So here is my mini-story, which I call Dog Days.
When I was your age, I was told the story of how we first came to him. How my great-great-great grandsire was brought to this place. He was young then, and we grew with him. We shadowed his first steps, jumping in encouragement and tugging him forward. We guarded his small bed as he slept, and watched him eat.
We played during his youth, when he would take us on long adventures in the places with trees and squirrels. He fed us scraps from his own plate, played in the dirt with us, and taught us the commands we needed to be his good boy. We slept at his side, and comforted him when he cried. His love for us was overwhelming.
We endured his training years, waiting each day for his return. Sometimes others like him would come with us, but he always ran closest to us. He had us at his side for the discovery of the Creek. He brought us to the Marking Tree. He found many squirrels and rabbits for us to chase. The days were full of excitement and belly rubs.
My great grandsire remembered the Long Waits. There were four of them. He was busy, but he always found time for us when he returned. It was our sacred duty to welcome him home after each one. We did it with all our hearts, barking in joy so he knew he was home. We, in turn, kept his home safe while he was away. He always rewarded us for being a good boy while he was gone.
We were there for the migrations. Leaving our territory behind was sad, but he always brought us new toys and took us to mark new trees. He gave us new territory. We followed him and he gave us warm places to sleep and enough food that we never went hungry. Wherever he went, that was our home. That was our place.
I was born in this place. Others like him live here, but I’ve always known he is mine. He shares his best resting spots, and his food. He has cared for me my whole life. I have made his days joyful, bringing him gifts and lying at his side. And I have kept his nights safe, warning him of noises and things moving in the dark. That has always been our duty, in return for his love and care.
Now my fur is turning grey, and my bones ache. When I run with him, I breathe harder. I like to spend my days watching him, instead of following him through the yard. He is still in his prime, and I know he will be here long after me.
You must care for him when I am gone. He will always feed you and take you for runs. He will always give you a warm place to sleep, and bones to chew, and squirrels to chase. He will pet you and rub your belly. He will make everything better.
You must guard his home, comfort him, and make him happy. You must stay at his side when I no longer can. Keep the birds away from his home. Chase the squirrels from his yard. Watch, ever vigilant, for the one in blue that comes to the door with paper that makes him angry.
He will be here long after we are gone, and we must do all we can to repay him for the kindness and love he has given each of us. You must carry on this honor, and pass it to those who come after you. It is our sacred duty to stand beside him. To bring his life joy and protection. Just as he brings us love and warmth.
So go, pup. Climb onto his lap. Lick his face, because he is watching the noisy box and not laughing. Be there in case he needs you to taste his food. Stand at the window and watch for that thing that flaps on the fence, just in case it comes here and threatens him. Take care to mark all the trees you can, so all will know you guard this home.
Lifetimes from now, when he reaches the end of his journey, we will be there to welcome him again. We will stand around him, barking and wagging our tails, and he will rub our bellies and scratch behind our ears. We will run with him again. We will nap with him again.
Until then, love him well. For all of us.