Dog People

The first thing we did was name the animal “Blackie”—an original name, I know. Then, all four of us laid on our stomachs beneath a sagging shotgun house, in the dirt, talking in high-pitched voices to Old Black.

My childhood friend, Danny, was a dog-person.

I remember once, we were painting a house together. The house was old. Four of us boys were painting it because the owner was too old to do it himself.

We took several days to finish—earning twenty bucks per boy. We painted the clapboards flat white and the shutters green. We drank well over our legal limit of Coca-Colas.

And one sunny day, a dog trotted into the yard while we painted. It walked with a limp. It hobbled toward the house and crawled beneath the porch.

Danny was the first to crawl in after the dog. Dog-people, you see, do strange things like that.

We could see the dog was in bad shape. There was dark, shiny blood on its stomach. It growled if anyone got too close.

“He’s hurt,” said Danny. “I think he’s needs our help.”

The first thing we did was name the animal “Blackie”—an original name, I know. Then, all four of us laid on our stomachs beneath a sagging shotgun house, in the dirt, talking in high-pitched voices to Old Black.

“Hey boy,” we said. “Who’s a good boy?”

“Here Blackie, here Blackie.”

But it did no good. Blackie a nervous wreck. He panted so hard it looked like his chest was going to explode.

Danny came up with an idea. He suggested we read books to Blackie.

“Read to him?” I remarked.

Danny reasoned that whenever his own mother read stories to him before bedtime it calmed him, lowered his blood pressure, and made him an all-around amiable human being.

So, we worked in shifts. Three boys would paint the house; one would stay beneath the porch with a book and a flashlight.

We did this for a day.

Blackie started to trust Danny. Whenever Danny was nearby, the dog seemed relaxed. Whenever Danny wasn’t around, the dog was nervous.

Eventually, Danny was able to get close enough to the dog to pet him. He fed him, too. The skin around his belly was torn up. And he was getting weaker.

We were able to slide him from beneath the house. Danny talked to the dog in a soft whisper the whole time.

“I love you, Blackie,” he said. “I’m right here, buddy.”

But the animal was too exhausted to put up a fight. He was half limp. He howled in a tone sad enough to break your heart.

We lifted him into the backseat of Danny’s father’s car. We set him on trash bags.

The doc stitched him up, and I’m pleased to report that old boy lived six more years. He was Danny’s shadow for every one of those years. And even after Old Black’s hips got arthritic, he would tear out after a good tennis ball like a puppy.

Anyway, yesterday I saw an old friend. My friend looks good. He’s got a good job, three kids. Age has fallen on him a little. It’s hit me, too. But maybe we still look little boys if you catch us in the right light.

We shook hands. We hugged. We didn’t talk about accomplishments, career paths, success, or even what we’re doing with our lives. That’s not what people like us do. In fact, people like us don’t have much in that area to talk about.

Instead, we talked about a black dog who, as it happens, wasn’t just an animal. He was a “someone.” He could feel, smile, and love, just like any human. Only harder.

Then again, pay no attention to me.

I’m a dog-person.

32 comments

  1. Cathi - April 11, 2018 8:08 am

    Me, I’m a dog person too. There are those I can’t think about without tears. There’s a reason dog is God spelled in reverse. A college friend said many years ago that Dogs are God’s very best idea and I have no reason to doubt her.

    Reply
  2. Marty from Alabama - April 11, 2018 8:12 am

    I am a dog-person, too. I have two in the bed right now that don’t know they are d-o-g-s. They don’t ask for much, but do they ever give a lot? These two, Mule and Tater, are #2 and #4. Number one, Gizmo, and #3, Dingo, are no longer with us. Gizmo has been gone eight years and Dingo left in the last year. All four of my little “boys” became mine when they were not wanted. I still cry thinking about Giz and Dingo. They were friends that loved me even on my worst days. The first three, all Chihuahuas, thought they were Great Danes and Tater, part Chihuahua and maybe Dachshund, is about the same. I could talk for hours about them and their antics, but doesn’t everybody do that about their fur babies? My thinker isn’t working yet – it’s only 3:00 in the morning. Today’s episode about the black dog was a goodie.

    Reply
  3. Susan - April 11, 2018 9:16 am

    It took me twice as long to read this because my dog was in my face licking me with her dragon breath. Guess that makes me a dog person too.

    Reply
  4. Sherry - April 11, 2018 10:17 am

    Still my ss Charlie…😢

    Reply
  5. Jo Ann - April 11, 2018 11:29 am

    We’re dog people, too. ( I’m also a cat person, but don’t tell! ) I think you can tell a lot about a person when you see how they treat animals & especially if your dog likes them.

    Reply
    • Fluffy - April 13, 2018 3:41 pm

      My daddy once told me not to trust any one who doesn’t like dogs. Probably the most wisdom he’d ever given. Through his alcoholism he never shared his time in the Army. But he did tell us about his dogs, our dogs and how they take pain away from folks like us.

      Reply
  6. Sue Cronkite - April 11, 2018 12:06 pm

    Great! Heartwarming!

    Reply
  7. Skip - April 11, 2018 12:37 pm

    Well said.

    Reply
  8. Connie - April 11, 2018 12:50 pm

    I am a dog person too…animal people are the best!

    Reply
  9. ponder304 - April 11, 2018 12:54 pm

    Two men who know what is important in life….love not accomplishments in the secular.

    Reply
  10. kaye - April 11, 2018 1:24 pm

    Non dog people just don’t understand.

    Reply
  11. Carol ann ROTHWELL - April 11, 2018 1:39 pm

    Me too….they..my 2 .are with me all the time…
    I’m alone most of the time..Kids are grown, busy,we talk.and sometimes I have to leave my babies if I go to PC.with my daughter…but it hurts.
    So most of the time I don’t go…
    I’m a dog person too.
    Love ya.👼!

    Reply
  12. Anne Greaves - April 11, 2018 1:42 pm

    Our dogs are our”angels in fur coats”!!!!!!

    Reply
  13. Jones - April 11, 2018 1:51 pm

    Yet another reason to know you’re a good guy!

    People who don’t like dogs just don’t get it. My family has always had a dog—and in later years, more than one because there’s always one or more who need rescuing! They bring such joy and companionship—we love them hard and hurt hard when we lose them.
    Always enjoy your writings!

    Reply
  14. Deborah Oder - April 11, 2018 1:57 pm

    This old dog person has tears running down her cheeks. Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Linda - April 11, 2018 2:23 pm

    Now you’ve done it. You’ve made me confess that I believe The Velveteen Rabbit was written by a dog person, someone like us who knows that, once a dog is loved, he/she become a real person, a living, breathing, member of the family. Sometimes a 4-legged pal is the only family. Sometimes a dog-child loves better than family. They surely don’t grow up and leave you, and they would stay longer if they could. The secret is out. Good job! By the way, those pups that don’t know love are real, too, and as deserving as any to be adopted into that happiest of situations: family.

    Reply
  16. Jo - April 11, 2018 2:28 pm

    Amen. I am a dog person too!

    Reply
  17. JAN Silvious - April 11, 2018 3:30 pm

    Dog person here! Love your writing. Pure soul.

    Reply
  18. Linda Bailey - April 11, 2018 3:37 pm

    I’ve always loved dogs but never really was close to one until I fell in love with Greyhounds. They taught me such deep compassion and trust. It’s not only Greyhounds now it’s any size, shape, or breed. I’ve rescued many and have 3 of my own rescues at this time. All the money in the world could not make me part with them

    Reply
  19. Kimberly Ramsey - April 11, 2018 3:59 pm

    What a wonderful message – I am a dog person in a dog family who just lost their “other child.” She was a beagle who we got as a puppy from a horrendous living environment. She chose us – as dogs will do. She tumbled over from the pack of squirming beagle pups and sat on my daughter’s foot, refusing to move. Our dogs are always as much a part of the family as each human is.

    Reply
  20. muthahun - April 11, 2018 5:17 pm

    I’m not sure what I love most – that Blackie got better, or that 4 boys painting a house decided to take turns reading to him. That thought process is nothing short of priceless… just like Blackie. Just like Buster and Ari and Khanzi and Meko and Tara and Erin and Heidi and Tara-too and… well, you get my drift. Maggie and Woodrow – the ones in my picture – are currently out sunny on the deck in the spring sunshine. Life is good.

    Reply
  21. Patricia Gibson - April 11, 2018 7:04 pm

    Me too!!

    Reply
  22. Nancy S. Jones - April 11, 2018 7:24 pm

    Give me a dog person all day long!! People that love animals are the best folks!!

    Reply
  23. June - April 11, 2018 8:15 pm

    Strange, I’m a dog and cat person, the love is never ending. Wish people treated me that well.

    Reply
  24. Diana Williams- McAfee - April 11, 2018 9:23 pm

    Great story! Man’s best friend! Every time your dog sees you, it’s like the first time! who doesn’t Love that?!?!

    Reply
  25. Noelle Stevens - April 11, 2018 9:55 pm

    I had a dog named Bozo. Lol. Named him after my favorite clown. I was 4. He was my shadow until I was 14. He has always been the dog of my heart. I’ve had and loved others, but Bozo, he was my heart.

    Reply
  26. Mark Miles - April 12, 2018 1:20 am

    Me too!

    Reply
  27. Michael Hawke - April 12, 2018 2:57 am

    Me too. And my wife too.

    Reply
  28. Edna B. - April 12, 2018 3:28 am

    I’m a doggie person too. But I love all animals. My precious little guy was rescued and I was lucky enough to have him come live with me. Well, he rescued me too. He brings me so much love and joy. I talk things over with him, and he always acts like he understands. Listening to his soft gentle snore when he sleeps is like listening to heavenly music. I am so blessed. You have a great evening, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  29. Linda Chipman - April 12, 2018 5:34 pm

    I am definitely a dog person but also a cat person. After I lost my sweet doggy last June very quickly to cancer, I said I wasn’t getting another one – I am 74 years old. But after some time went by I still missed my sweet girl but I also missed having a dog. So I now have a rescue who I dearly love just like all the other dogs I have had. She has helped me a lot. One of the best things is that I am now going for a walk just about every day. Really good for these old bones.

    Reply
  30. Mary Ellen Hall - April 15, 2018 11:24 pm

    I LOVE this story Sean!!! I am DEFINITELY a “Dog Person!”
    My husband & I have a six year old Chocolate Lab, that is basically our “baby!” Our lives revolve around hers!
    I have been a “Dog Person,” ALL MY life!! My dogs have ALWAYS been a VERY IMPORTANT PART of my life!!
    THANKS FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL STORY!!!🐶

    Reply
  31. Jeanette Walker - June 18, 2018 8:16 pm

    I can feel the pup’s anxiety of being hurt and then the trust earned. I also almost get physically ill when I read of the cruelty shown to some dogs. I guess I am not only a dog person but an animal person. I love God’s special creatures he gave us to love and enjoy. Thanks for another great story.

    Reply

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