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A Dog’s Purpose According To A 6 Year Old

May 24, 2011 | 68 Comments » | Topics: Dog, Heartwarming, Writing

dogs purpose

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me.  I’d never heard a more comforting explanation.  He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life – like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?”

The six-year-old continued, “Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

  • Lauren

    Great story – but that dog isn’t an Irish Wolfhound in the picture, right? Anyone know what kind it is?

    • Lolo

      That’s a pit bull or pit mix. Despite the bad press, they’re great family dogs. Blame the owner, not the breed.

      • lol

        all they asked is the breed, not your propaganda.

        • Lisa

          It’s not propaganda, it’s true. Some people are just ignorant.

          • Linda

            I have three Staffordshire bull terriers and an English bull terrier. This dog looks like my red Staffy. They are brilliant with children and live happily together. Dogs have their purpose on Earth, just as humans do. When their time is up, they return to God. They do not live as long as humans and some of them suffer terribly because of humans.

          • Bruce

            All fxxking people are ignorant. We are the only thing wrong in this world..

        • Mo

          Lolo’s right. My pit bull is scared of his own shadow caused by the abuse he suffered as a puppy. He gets along just fine with my other dog now and lives for belly rubs.

          • Cassiel

            Dogs are the reflex of humans, if you are a bastard in that way has to be your dog but if you are a nice lovely person you dog has to be a look a like of you in every detail.
            Don’t be a dick and give love to your dog!

  • fajas colombianas

    He is so mature for someone of his age. I wish my son was like that.

    • Ben

      You should be proud of your son for everything he does this is just one comment that a six year old said (witch was very nice)

  • obvious

    i call bullshit.. obviously madeup

    • Julie

      who cares if it’s not a “real” story, it’s TRUE, regardless!!

    • Kerry

      I don’t think it’s that obvious. When I was little, I used to ask people if they thought their personalities had developed from genetics or environment. I was obsessed with psychology. Kids are much more insightful than we give them credit for.

      • Kathy

        I agree Kerry.

    • Karla Bodaness

      Dear Obvious,
      What is “obvious” to me is that you don’t have much experience with children! A child’s perspective is worth its weight in gold.

  • anonymous

    I’ve seen the story before; whether or not it’s made up it serves the purpose it’s meant to–and is quite sweet.

    To Lauren, the dog in the picture looks like either a pet-quality Staffordshire Bull Terrier or else a cross between a Staff and something else.

  • Alex

    Why do we go all mushy over bull shit just because it comes out of a child’s mouth?
    I agree the kid must be pretty bright, to be spewing some Grade A bullshit like that by the time he’s 6 years old, but it’s still bullshit.

    • Doug

      Alex, I am a 58 year old father of a 4yr old. Please give yourself some time to grow and learn before you spew some Grade A bullshit of your own. My guess is you have no kids of your own, depending on their upbringing, some kids are very insightful.

      • Bruce

        Alex or the type of human being that thinks of, treats, and interacts with animals and other people to is the perfect example of my earlier comment..
        The human is the only air breathing ‘thing’ that knows how to lie, feel greed, be disloyal, etc… They all including myself should fade away… which is all that we have been doing to this place since we learned how to. Everything else has an order, a place, a purpose here… unlike the human… We ARE what is wrong
        All of you can flame me to your last breath and all it does is reinforce EVERYTHING the above statement says.

        • millerlyte79

          No flame necessary. But your disdain in Humanity is your own failure to see the good in all. Or better yet, what have you done personally to make humanity better for all? It doesn’t have to be a massive accomplishment like creating world peace but what have you done to influence even one person positively in the last week? Your attitude is less a reflection on humanity and more a reflection on yourself!

    • Brenda

      According to the boy’s logic, you’re probably gonna be around a very, very long time, Alex. Peace.

    • Nel

      And here is just one of the people who is going to be spending a greater than average amount of time on earth. From a child’s mouth this sounds mature for someone his age. If this came from an adult it would just show that there is infact yet another smart adult in this world. Live (very long) and prosper my dear!

    • susieq58

      Alex, shhh. its ok. It is not hurting anyone. Many find comfort in it for themselves. People share feelings and it is comforting when they mirror our own. But you can be as hard hearted as you wish. I hope you learn to listen to your heart, or someone elses.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry your just bitter because a six year old has already figured out the meaning life while you will die alone trying to find it

  • Fred

    Alex, you need a hug.

    • matt

      Or a dose of what the dog had!

      • bradley

        LoL There are a lot of people out there that need that. Ungrateful pukes they are.

  • Nick

    It’s bizarre how people can so wildly miss the point of the post…

  • Kevin

    I thought it was nice. I currently have a 13 year old chocolate lab with cancer and will soon have to put him down. So you guys should choose your words a little more wisely. For some day you may find out how bad it hurts.

    • Carolyn

      You are so right Kevin, I just had to let my 17 year old Blue Queensland Healer go, and it is really hard and leaves a big hole.

      • Kimberly

        A huge hole.

    • Shannon

      Kevin, I’m sorry you are dealing with your dog’s illness and knowing that you’ll have to part with him soon. I had to put down my 11 yr old lab mix last week. My brother sent me this post tonight and I find it very sweet and comforting. I don’t care if someone made it up or if it is a genuine story. It’s lovely.

    • Brittany

      My lab is 13 years old now and will be 14 next month, her arthritis in her hips is getting quite bad, but other than that she seems ok…but we will probably have to put her down soon if the pain gets worse…it’s really hard to think of because we’ve had her since I was 7 years old….she helped me through a lot of shit when I was growing up so to think that she’ll be gone hurts….the little boy was right though, dog’s are born already knowing to love….

  • Caitlin

    whether this is true or not, it really made me tear up, and i’m 24.

    my first dog (rottweiler) was 13 (i was 14) when we had him put down. he couldn’t walk anymore and was going blind. we didn’t want him to suffer anymore. i still miss my Pokey every day.

    i now have a 7 (about to turn 8 next week) year old lab and my family and i notice that he’s starting to show his age. he doesn’t run as much anymore and he’s getting very white in the face. i can’t help but wonder when it will be his time to go, and it breaks my heart that someday i’ll have to wake up without Sam at the foot of my bed.

    dogs love deeply and unconditionally.

    • Twila

      Caitlin, I too grew up with a rottweiler, and it was hard when she had to be put down at 11 (I was 17). I am now 23 and I have a 1 year old basset hound whom I love to bits. The best part of my day is waking up and seeing her sleeping with her head resting on my thigh.

      I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.

      P.S. This post made me tear up too.

  • chaitanya

    the dog is cute

  • Channing

    Having had to put my 13-year-old lab down this past Monday, I have to agree with the sentiment. My Buddy loved everyone every day of his life and I am a better person because of him. I will always miss him.

  • Channing

    Having just had to put my 13-year-old lab to sleep this past Monday, I have to agree with this sentiment. My Buddy loved everyone every day of his life. I will always miss him.

    • Channing

      Oops. Thought the first one did not go through.

  • Alyson

    This is so sweet. And true. And Alex is an asshole.

    That is all :)

    • Shannon

      Well said, Alyson.

  • Stacy

    I love the story but why tell the breed of the dog and use a photo that obviously isn’t the dog. Irish Wolfhounds are huge, mammoth sized dogs with shaggy grey hair. Wonderful dogs, by the way . . . just found that one thing odd.

  • lunawatsername

    i would guess they used the picture because its picture of a cute dog and a cute kid, and that attracts attention. just saying.

  • Carfon

    I have not been on here long and was amazed at Alexs’ comments-I thought that this would be a fun thing. I have had dogs all of my life the last 20+ it has been Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. My son is a trainer and shows his APBT’s. His 7mth old pup won his CH and has already competed in the CH class winning his 1st of 5 ribbons.The photo is either an APBT or a mix. This is more what the Pit Bull is supposed to look like. Not AmStaffy, or Bully. No offense, I like them all. But as we all know Pit bull is not a breed but a look.
    When you dislike the propaganda-maybe those of us who know these dogs ( that so many are trying to ban-Rotties APBT’s, German Shepherds, Dobermans etc) cannot help ourselves. they are SO maligned. We cannot pass up an opportunity to tell a different side of the story.I would be the first to put a vicious dog down, though I might hold it lovingly while it is done. 99% of the time it is the owner, not the dog!
    Sorry that I went on for so long-it will not happen again-I don’t like the tone of something that I thought would be informative and sometimes fun . . . not ugly.

    • Darjan

      What the hell are you even talking about. This story is NOT about maligned breeds, as much as I thoroughly agree with you about that, so WHY did you ambush this sensitive and sweet story with this? Shame on you!

  • Obadiah

    It should not have been that difficult for them to find a picture of a wolfhound for their story. People may think it does not matter but there will be many people who do not know dogs who will now be calling this an Irish wolfhound when they see one just like it. A cute story but its odd to use such a wee dog and the wrong breed.

  • mq

    the vet should go back ti school if he or she thinks that humans have a longer life span than a raven. then there is the sea turtle. this whole story is made up bullsh-t

    • shay

      The vet never said that ravens’ lives or sea turtles’ lives were longer than humans. It was a generalization. Please try to see the nice side of the story, bullsh*t or not. With a healthy dose of imagination and a nice cup of optimism or sympathy, maybe it’s not so bullsh*tty. Maybe it’ll help brighten someone’s day. So before you write a negative comment on a post that’s meant to be thought-provoking, please think first.


  • Dawn

    I don’t think it matters what kind of dog they used in the picture, the story is about a boy and what he thinks of a dog’s life. And Alex, you are rude and according to that little boys insight, I take it that you will be sticking around for a long time.

  • Mo

    It is the simple message given in this article that matters. The whole world should read this!! Lead a good life, and be kind to others. If the world lived by this message think of what a better place it would be.

  • Mo

    Oh and yes, we recently had to put our dog down due to a bad disease, so I can relate. She was two weeks shy of being 6. I am not looking at the life span, but rather how we as human beings should act and treat others. Reflect on the article and learn, live a better life. Doesn’t get more simple than that.

  • angel

    is it weird this made me cry and i’m 10? this shows that never underestimate a younger mind everyone has something to say that’s smart so speak up :)

  • Emily

    When I was 10, I had a beautiful little girl Siberian Husky pup, Dakota. She ha a brother named Chase, and they were leash trained because, being huskies, they like to run. Me and my sister were taking them outside and where going to play their favourite game in which someone hides with one dog, and the other searches. I had Dakota and I was hiding. My sister, with Chase, found me. I ran with Dakota, so they wouldn’t catch me, and I tripped, hitting my knee on a rock. I let go off Dakota’s leash, and she continued to run. My sister chased after Dakota, but I remained on the ground holding my knee. They all disappeared behind some trees, and I got up and began to follow. As soon as I turned into the trees, I heard a car screech. I screamed, “Did she get hit?”
    I blamed myself for her death. I held her leash. I dropped it. I tripped and didn’t get right back up. I understand some of you might think, “So what? IT’s just a dog.” but I had always believed that animals are truly equal to humans, so this would be like killing a human to me. Even now, three years later, I feel the same, despite my parents trying to tell me differently. This one page makes me feel better about that day. I sincerely hope that Dakota forgives my mistakes, and I like to think that Shane was right.

    • Don’t Worry

      Emily, it is not your fault at all, and you should not be so hard on yourself…. I am glad you found comfort in this post. You will see Dakota again one day, and she will love you just as much as she did 3 years ago.

  • Barry

    It doesn’t really matter if there are mistakes in this story. It is the point that is being made. I feel sorry for people like Alex. No compassion, just bitterness in their heart, if they have one. He needs our prayers.

  • Highland Lakes Dog Walker

    Touching story, and yes, although it’s a part of life that’s hard to accept I believe the little boy had it right on target =)

  • Opposite of Alex :P

    I have two dogs both Golden Doodles AMAZING dogs they are smart and very loving one of them is 3 months the other one is 7 years (both boys) ever since we got are little dog are older one has been way healthier and active :D

  • Midwestern1

    I’m 75 years old and the only time I can remember crying is a couple years ago when I held Asia when the vet put her down. She was a 9 year old german shepard with lots of problems.

  • Beverlysbusiness

    What an awesome story! What great insight for a 6 yr. old!

  • Ally

    That is one of the sweetest things I have ever heard.

  • Pnbsf


  • Chef Iko Quraisin

    aww make me blue

  • Cole

    I was in the room when we had to put my childhood dog Chance to sleep. I still get tearie eyed when i think about the pup i grew up with. ( he was only 2 years younger than me) I didn’t understand until I read this. I was 15 then I’m 26 now. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sheila M. Acabal Cadayona

    so true…

  • susieq58

    How thin is the veil of heaven for a child…. We are here to learn, to be better, to progress… Would that we all were like our loving, loyal animals.

  • jack

    great dog

  • Amy

    I read this story three years ago and had remembered it the entire time. I searched for it and while I was re-reading it, it reminded me of my own 10 year old dog. I thought of all she has taught me but mostly I thought of all the rude acts I have done towards her. Mostly they were not playing with her because I was lazy. No matter how many times I have ignored her, she still would wag her tail at me, hoping I would play. No matter how many times I shot her down, she always came back. This story speaks the most to me because i am only 13 years old and I have only had one dog, but she alone represents this story well. We got my dog when I was 3 years old and she has been my companion growing up. She has taught me the same amount about being a good person as my parents have. I could not have asked for a better dog to guide me through these 10 years. I love you Kona, you will live foreve in my heart.

  • Sarah Wiehr

    makes me miss my animals that have pasted away but they will always be in my heart


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