I was the best guard dog in my life, so naturally, they gave me the job. My owners were sad when I died. I heard them weeping as I lay on the ground after getting hurt from the coyote that was going after our chickens. I fought it off with all my might. I think I injured him, too. It hurt too much to move. I wanted to lick them to tell them I was okay. I did my job. I was a good dog.
Then I woke up, but I didn’t look like me anymore. I was bigger than I was and instead of being black and white, my whole fur was black. I walked around the grass, sniffing and trying to see if anyone was around, but I only saw a tiny stone with my pawprint on it.
A dark hooded figure appeared before me. I was scared at first, I growled at him and could feel the hair on my back stand up.
“This is your new home now. Protect the souls from the evils out there and guide them to peace.”
I whined and ducked my head. “Am I supposed to always be alone?”
“You will have plenty of friends soon. I’m entrusting this honor to you, will you accept, Buddy?”
I barked my response. The dark figure disappeared. This was my new home now to protect.
My littlest owner came to visit one time. She laid a flower by my stone. I stood by her and nuzzled my head against her hand. She didn’t pet me, but she smiled.
That’s when I noticed them. The dark people. They were lurking at the edge of the trees, looking hungry. They were looking at my littlest owner. I started to growl and saw the dark people retreat. My littlest owner started talking to the stone so I laid down beside it.
“And Mama brought home a puppy! But she didn’t look like you and she doesn’t know how to protect the chickens, all she wants to do is play with them. I miss you, Buddy. But you saved May and Annie from being coyote food. I just wish you could have stayed, too.”
I whined. I wished she knew I was here. But she just smiled and patted my stone before she got up to leave.
I waited for what felt like days and days for anyone else to join me. I was starting to feel lonely. But then one day a group of people was gathering at another part of the grass. I walked over and noticed someone was being buried there. I looked around at the people, they all seemed sad. I tried to nuzzle my head against them to comfort them, but no one seemed to know I was there.
An old man stood a short distance away, he looked different than the others. I started to walk over to him, wagging my tail, and he looked scared at first.
“It’s okay! I’m here to protect. Welcome to my home.” I said to the old man.
“I thought I was going to be alone.” He sighed. “I don’t know what to do now.”
“I was told to guide you to peace. What would make you complete?” I asked, wagging my tail as I sat beside him. He placed his hand on my head instinctively and started scratching. I almost forgot how that sensation felt.
“Knowing my wife will be taken care of while I’m gone.”
I looked over at the crowd and saw an older lady sitting on a chair crying into a piece of cloth. She had younger humans sitting beside her, holding her hand or hugging her.
“She looks like she’s surrounded by love.”
“I’m worried when everyone leaves they’ll forget her.”
“You can stay as long as you’d like until you find that peace.” I didn’t know how long the souls were allowed to stay, the dark figure never explained. But I felt that since this was my home I could make the rules. Just like my owners made the rules for their home.
Then I smelt her. My littlest owner, only she had grown a little. She walked over to the old lady and handed her a flower, just like the one she laid on my stone. It must have come from her mother’s garden.
“My dog, Buddy, is buried here, too. Mr. Smith is not going to be alone.” She said and hugged the old lady. The old lady smiled a little when they pulled away.
“Thank you, dear. I am glad to know that my Hank will have company.”
My littlest owner smiled and hopped away towards my stone. I looked at the old man.
“I’m sorry, but I have to see my littlest owner,” I said as I took off running to beat her there. She must know I will always be there for her.
“Buddy! You must protect Mr. Smith, now. He’s a very nice man. He used to give me extra candy at the store when Mama wasn’t looking. I know you’ll be good to him. You were always a good boy.” She petted my stone and walked off. I sat there watching as she skipped out of the grass towards home. I wished I could follow her home.
Mr. Smith stayed for what felt like more days and days, but then one day he sighed and said, “It’s time to move on, Buddy. Thanks for watching over me.”
I whined, I didn’t want to be alone again, but I knew that he wasn’t supposed to stay here long. Mr. Smith petted my head a couple of times and then he turned and disappeared like the dark figure.
Many more came and went after more days and days. I even saw my owners to their peace. They were very happy to see me. They told me they knew I’d be here because they were told I was going to be the first to be buried here and that meant I would be given the job to protect this place. They told me I was a very good boy and they were proud of me. I licked their faces a ton before they, too, turned and disappeared.
Their stones were right next to mine. I would lay beside them every night.
Then the day came for my littlest owner to arrive.
“Buddy?” She asked as I trotted up to her wagging my tail. She looked older, like her mother.
“It’s me!” I said as I hopped around playfully. She laughed and hugged me close to her.
“I missed you so much!” She cried. I licked her face a ton.
“It’s time for you to go to your parents.”
“But I don’t want to leave you alone. I thought when we buried them near you, they would be here with you.”
“They were, but then they found their peace.”
“I don’t want to find my peace. I want to stay with you.” She started to morph into the little girl I knew. I wasn’t sure what was happening.
“You can stay as long as you want until you find your peace.”
“My peace is with you.” She smiled and together we sat by our stones. There were more stones in the grass than when I first arrived. But, I didn’t mind them. It only meant I had a lot of friends come through and I’ll have many more… but my littlest owner will always be with me.
I’ll never be alone.
Thanks for reading this short! I read something the other day that when a new cemetery was built they would bury a dog there first (of course, the dog was already dead) and that would be the protector of the cemetery, a “church grim”. I thought it would be fun to write a short story in the perspective of the dog.
I actually had this written last year, and while I was cleaning out my files I found it and thought you all would enjoy this short read.