Skip to main content Skip to main content

The Thing About Dead Dog Stories….

.…is that at least to us, they are never really gone.

The Thing About Dead Dog Stories….

When it comes to a good dog, they are with us, always. (Illustration By: Sean Delonas)

A few months ago, in the pages of a magazine, a writer quoted his editor as saying, “No more dead dog stories.”  I understand his intent. Too often, stories of our dogs are simply the ending of their lives. He did not want to fill the pages of a dog magazine with death and pull at the reader’s emotional heartstrings by replaying constant Old Yeller endings.

No more dead dog stories. Yet somehow, this statement misses the ultimate matter of a dog’s existence. For those of us who have owned a dog, when we bring that little ball of fur home, we ultimately know the end of the story. Due to the difference in longevity, we know that, barring some catastrophe, we will live far beyond the years of our dog. No more dead dog stories. Yet every story is ultimately the story of a dead dog. We share roughly a decade of our lives with these companions and then many of them, especially the good ones, are gone far too soon. We know this when we bring them home, bring them into our families, our lives, and eventually into our hearts. We still do this knowing the eventual and inevitable hurt. One day there will be an empty corner where Pepper once slept, her fur woven into the fabric of the carpet as if it were designed that way. No more dead dog stories.


Gone, But Never Forgotten 

The thing about dead dog stories, though, is they are never gone—at least to us. They are always with us, always in our hearts. Is it wishful thinking to hope against hope that a dog who never lost a retrieve and would run through a wall (or a screen door) to be by our side, could somehow break the mortal boundaries of time? When my dad moved Sport’s collar from the garage cabinet and I heard the vet tags rattle, no part of me found it absurd to turn and expect to see her running across the deck, just like the day Dad first brought her home. Though she had been dead for over a decade, is it insane to know a little part of ourselves never accepts she is really gone? Was it any less insane to watch Dad hold the collar for a moment then return it from where it came? Is it any worse to know that collar remains, to this day, in its current place even after Dad, himself, joined her as a memory?

When we invite that wiggly, fluffball into our lives, we invite them into our soul, as well. When my oldest son was three years old, I was left one evening with him and his infant sister while my wife went out with her sisters. Being the good father, I sat with my daughter watching tv. Eventually, I realized my son was nowhere to be seen. As I searched the house for him, I went onto the porch and found him snuggled between our two Labradors, coloring. I stood in the doorway and watched him while he occasionally pet either dog, telling them what he was coloring. Tippy, whom I once brought home and loved, adopted my son with that same love and devotion. I come around that corner and see the three of them sitting there still.

The Best Parts Live On

No more dead dog stories. Yet they are not dead, at least, not to us. From the moment man first invited a wolf to join him beside the campfire, our collective memories entwined. They do their job with a devout determination to bring our first pheasant, would charge through fire to get that first treasure, then one day, do the same for our child. They celebrate the birth of our children by adopting them as their own and listen through our tears when we bury our father. They are happy to celebrate our joys and give every ounce to help ease our sorrow. Time smooths the rough edges, and we forget the time Rusty chewed the underground sprinkler wire, but keep the memory of her vigilantly protecting us when we camped in the backyard. Their names may change over the course of our lifetime, but they are never gone. When it comes to a good dog, they are with us, always. They would never abandon us in life, and they certainly remain loyal long past their death. No matter how old we get, they are never “dead dog stories.” To us, they never really died.


To Continue Reading

Go Premium Today.

Get everything Gun Dog has to offer. What's Included

  • Receive (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers

  • Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

  • Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

  • Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

  • Ad-free experience at GunDogMag.com.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or start your online account

Get the Newletter Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Gun Dog articles delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Gun Dog subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now
Dog jumping out of phone with Gun Dog website in the background
Make the Jump to Gun Dog Premium

Gun Dog Premium is the go-to choice for sporting dog owners and upland hunting enthusiasts. Go Premium to recieve the follwing benefits:

The Magazine

Recieve (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers.

Training Videos

Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

Digital Back Issues

Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

Exclusive Online Editorial

Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or Start your online account

Go Premium

and get everything Gun Dog has to offer.

The Magazine

Recieve (6) 120-page magazines filled with the best dog training advice from expert trainers.

Training Videos

Exclusive bird dog training videos presented by Gun Dog experts.

Digital Back Issues

Complete access to a library of digital back issues spanning years of Gun Dog magazine.

Exclusive Online Editorial

Unique editorial written exclusively for premium members.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In or Start your online account