A Boy and His Dog

No one else. Only you. Only you understand.

I stood outside my son’s bedroom door and listened, pressing my body up against the wall–an unwelcome guest.

His earnest words pricked my heart.

It had been a difficult day. I knew he was hurting. I wanted to wrap him up in Mother-love, but he didn’t turn to me. Instead, it was Lucy Mae—our Boston Terrier—that he laid these heavy burdens on.

I leaned against the wall and wondered if I should go to him. But as I listened to him pouring his heart out to Lucy Mae, I remembered a pair of doleful hound-dog eyes.


Frankie listened to everything. He must have come to us when I was in the first or second grade because I named him after Frankie Tate—one of my early crushes. Frankie Tate was really good at dodge ball. But Frankie—the dog—was just a tiny pup when he became part of our family. He was supposed to be my brother David’s dog, but it was me that he loved best.

And I loved him.

An introvert, I most often could be found inside, reading. My brothers and sister would be outside most of the day—riding bikes, playing baseball with the other kids on the hollow, or just finding dirt somewhere. When I did take a break from the books, I could never seem to find them.

But Frankie was always there.

We would sit on the porch steps–my arms wrapped around him—as I poured my heart out into his thick fur.

No one else. Only you. Only you understand.

I knew he did. His brown, intelligent eyes followed my every word. He sat patiently as I rubbed his back, scratched behind his ears. Sometimes, I would pick the wood ticks off of him (Frankie was a country dog—an outside dog) and crush their heads on a flat rock with the point of a sharp stone.

I think he appreciated that.

When my parents decided to divorce, only Frankie knew the full extent of my heartbreak. He knew how to keep a secret.

As I listened to my boy spill his heart out to Lucy, I remembered the comfort there is in warm fur and liquid eyes.

So I crossed my mother-arms across my mother-chest and went downstairs.

Sometimes, only a best friend knows the right thing to say.


  1. says

    *snif* how precious. When my boys get in trouble or are upset they will sit on their beds and stroke our cats who joyfully follow them there for that purpose. What a gift pets are!! Thank you for sharing this.

  2. says

    Beautiful! I am presently missing all of my children and my dogs. (The dogs died a couple of years ago and I still miss them at times.) My childhood dog was Todo (named after Toto on the Wizard of Oz). Every Kansas girl must have one sometime! He knew more about me than anyone else in my family, too, and he never told! Not ever!

    Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, Laura!


  3. says

    I understand! When I was a kid, my German Shepherd was my confidant! I have 2 dogs now and I still talk to them like they understand. A pet accepts you, no matter what. Great post.

  4. says

    Oh my. Even now, at 52 with an amazing husband and an ever deepening relationship with God…I am stunned by God’s love with this new dog we have…God uses everything so I have no problem admitting that I KNOW His love better because of this short stuff bundle of CRAZY joy that He personally hand picked for me.
    The freedom to pour out one’s thoughts…your heart…even though only a dog…I do believe he communed with God.

  5. says

    oh laura, my brother confided in his dog too… there’s something special about dogs. how wise of you, to recognize this. and how loving of you, to not need to be the confidant. you bless me.

  6. says

    I scrunched and pushed everything down after the divorce. I had my books and my imagination, friends who didn’t expect too much, and a cat who loved me–at least until he disappeared one day. That’s still a mystery.

  7. says

    Oh yes! For me, it was Ginger, a cocker spaniel, who kept my secrets. We got sister puppies a little over a year ago, and they are sometimes the best friends/counselors/comforters my kids can have. And my kids aren’t little.

  8. says

    Oh Laura, you have said this so well. I didn’t have this kind of pet as a child, but I did as an adult. I am still grieving over my Precious, grieving in a way that continues to surprise me. She died with many tear stains tattooed on her back and with many secrets trapped between those furry ears. It’s why I certainly hope to have another dog sometime soon.

  9. says

    Oh Laura, I can so relate to this. Unconditional love, as close as it could be on earth. A dog, always there, loving, forgiving, forgeting. And you are so sensitive to recognize that.

  10. says

    This is so touching Laura. I often think we Moms want to be able to say just the right words to make everything better. Perhaps we could take a lesson from those sweet dogs and just have listening hearts. Perhaps that is what we need most – someone who really just listens.
    I love this Laura. You have such a precious heart.

  11. says


    There’s just something about our furry friends that touch our hearts, and make us feel safe and loved.

    Off topic…did you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Great book, especially for a dog lover.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. says

    If picking off wood ticks and crushing their heads on a flat rock with the point of a sharp stone didn’t show Frankie how much you loved him back, well, I don’t know what else would. This was truly lovely. God does give us grace in so many unexpected places, doesn’t He? Even in loving hound-dog eyes.

  13. says

    I love the picture, and I love your words. Oh, those connections to our pets (especially when we are young!) are amazing. I remember having a similar conversation with my dog when I was nine, and I remember wondering if anyone would ever get me like that old German Shepard did.

    Wow, I guess I haven’t thought about that in a long time!

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