#469 Seeing a dog that looks like a dog you know

My sister and I killed Dale.

Well, to be honest, the poor goldfish didn’t stand a chance. Nina was six and I was seven when my parents let us have our first pet and the slippery slugger swam in our front hallway for ten happy days before being savagely murdered by overfeeding.

See, we wanted to show Dale our love so much we cleaned his bowl regularly, taped ocean drawings to the back of his home, and fed him every time our TV show went to commercial break.

He wasn’t a suicidal glutton when we got him but we turned him into one. It broke our hearts to flush him down the toilet and we cried hot salty tears as we watched his tiny orange body swirl furiously into the sewer system.

Dale was the first pet I ever had.

Dale was the last pet I ever had.

My brain tried for years to forget him … but my heart just never could.

Sure, I took baby steps, moving forward, moving on, hitting the books in high school, driving off to college, and finally coming back to the big city a new person, a different person, with all my pet-murdering baggage behind me.

Pets completely disappeared from my life. I skipped their stink aisle in the grocery store, avoided eye contact with dogs on the sidewalk, and told friends my allergies prevented me from scratching their cat’s disgusting belly.

But this all changed a few years ago when I found myself living with a girlfriend who needed to dog sit for her parents for a few weeks. I wasn’t working at the time so I became the primary doggiver.

Toby was a tiny black pup who I kept my distance from for a few days. But pretty soon his puppy eyes, sideways glances, and the way he’d lie on my legs while I watched TV warmed my heart. He was my gym buddy and got me jogging in the park. He was my shopping partner and waited patiently outside the store for a lick of ice cream. He was my bodyguard who growled at every dog down the hall. He’d lick up crumbs I dropped on the kitchen floor, cry whenever I left the house, and run around like he’d won the lottery when I came home.

People, I’m telling you: We bonded like glue.

Yes, when Toby finally had to leave I was heartbroken. I stood in the middle of the rain-slicked road watching his paws pressed against the back window of the van slowly disappearing into the distance. As I gazed back up at the apartment building everything felt hollow and empty inside.

Life savagely swirled me and Toby in different directions and I’m sad to say he died a few years later. However, these days every time I see a dog that looks like him my heart does a tiny flip and I remember all the good times we shared. Yes, I run up to that confused Placebo Dog on the street and scratch him behind the ears as my mind photoflashes to Toby sniffing tree trunks, chasing balls at the park, and running with a wagging tongue straight into my heart …

If you’re with me here then you know that seeing a dog that looks like a dog you know reminds you of childhood pets, neighbor’s yappy mutts, or your Grandpa’s best friend growing up. You wonder if they’re long lost descendants of your old friends and you smile at the four-legged memories bubbling up from long ago, popping out of nowhere just to say hello.


Thank you sincerely for putting The Book of Awesome on bestseller lists for 10 straight weeks.

— Email message —

“Today, my ex husband got married. I was a bit down, so I decided to treat myself to a chick flick (Letters to Juliet). Then I decided to stop by the bookstore, and look for a PostSecret book and The Book of Awesome. A wonderful woman took me to PostSecret, but when I was ready to find The Book of Awesome, the next woman couldn’t find it on the shelf. The system said they had two copies available. Sure enough, they had just gotten them in yesterday and hadn’t put them on the floor yet! So…On a crappy day, I managed to snag a copy of the book that hadn’t even been put out yet. AWESOME!!” – Sarah

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

37 thoughts on “#469 Seeing a dog that looks like a dog you know

    1. I do too!!! I was really offended when he said cat bellies are disgusting because i’m going through a hard time with my cat and i come here to feel better but it was a good story.

  1. This works with any kind of beloved animal, really. I go to a pet store that stocks a few parakeets that are dead ringers for my albino parakeet Snowball.

    I miss him but the reminders remain AWESOME.

  2. That’s a beautiful story. You sound like you’d be a great pet owner. I suggest a post titled “#xxx Going to the pound and adopting a pet”. ;D

    I’ll share my story if that’s okay. I had a kitty for twelve years, my very best friend since I got her. I was 7 years old and she was only 1 month old. She’s died now, we had to put her to sleep. Most difficult, less awesome thing I’ve ever had to go and go through. But time heals everything, and reminders of how that little kitten was such a good friend to me for so long despite how awkward a child and teenager I was are great. I grew a lot and became a better person because of her. :’)

  3. it’s always sad to loose a buddy. I always wanted to have a pet (cat or dog). My twin cousins had the most cute dog ever, they recieved him when we were 6 and as we used to live in the same building that was sort of my first pet too. With the years going by the attention and the cuddle he recieved weren’t as much as in the beggining, but he used to jump as crazy when i went in their house and i never stop playing with him. A car hit him 4 years ago…cause no one was walking around with him. It’s hard to forgive such thing. That would have never happened if he was mine, it just…wouldn’t! Like a friend of mine said “i don’t want another dog. Cause in my life i have one mom, one dad, and one dog”.

  4. Loved this post! I’ve always had dogs and it’s true, your heart does skip a beat when you spot a canine that spookily looks like one that you loved. I know have my own pup – just over a year old – and she brings such joy to my life. She’s a little bit of awesome all on her own. :)

  5. I second the xxx adopting a dog at the pound, I am currently snuggled up next to our new adoption dog as he snores, its AWESOME.

  6. I live in a resort town so often when I am walking my mastiff-mix Sally I will have visitors come up and say “oh she looks just like Rex/Buddy/Scout – I hate being away from my dog – can I PLEASE pet her?” And of course I let them. To see the joy on their face getting a little dog time – AWESOME

  7. I was like you — aggressively avoiding other people’s pets. Disgusted by the earthy smells. Appalled by the flurry of spent hair.

    And then I got my own pup. And it all changed. I can’t get enough of his smell, his hair, and his love. That is the awesome discovery here!

  8. I had a scary dog experience when I was five. Two dogs pinned my friend Shelly and me against the back door of her house. Her mom would not open the door because there were other kids inside. I hated dogs until I was 25 when my parents got Bentley. I pretty upset about it until I stayed at their house that December when Bentley and I became fast friends. Eventually I adopted my dog Naughty and we have had 11 and a half wonderful years together. Bent passed away seven years ago, but my parents and I still get excited when one of us sees a buff colored cocker spaniel. Obviously your story resonates with me! Thanks for sharing.

  9. well if you’re take fish as your pet then your surely need to know how to feed it and prevent overfeeding.every fish owner sometime had to learn this the hard way.

  10. Every time I see a pug I’m reminded of my neighbours dog, Augie. :-) Lucky us! They’re on vacation, so we get to dog-sit (and use their pool ;-) ). But we see a whole lot of Augie anyways.

    Whenever I see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (where cat McGonagall transforms) I think of Annie (who looks just like her):


    Ever time I see a spider, I think of my pet, Harry, a rose-haired tarantula (who is ADORABLE!).


  11. This made me cry… my own dear dog died 2 months ago, and I haven’t seen a look-a-like of him since, I’m kinda dreading it actually, because I miss him like crazy.
    Hopefully someday it’ll bring back the happy memories. Love your blog, as usual though

  12. This is so true! We dog-sat for someone and now when we see a similar dog we scream her name and then sigh. Those furry creatures sure know how to get into your heart.

  13. When I was about to read this awesome yet sad thing, my ringtone of vampire weekend blaired its heavy heart all throughout the crowded library. Death stares were being pleated my way as my cheeks burned purple. I picked up the life-destroyer.
    it was a peppy babysitter parent. (Guess that job has kicked the bucket)
    I then read the awesome thing and my cheeks subsided and I actually survived another desperate day at the prison. I agree with Lesily Knop, libraries are evil.

  14. i totally luv this post…makes me somehow sad bcoz when i think one day my dog might leave me alone..
    the way they change n give sense to our life..it’s AWESOME!!!

    the tictic of her nails on d floor when she walks around d house..it’s AWESOME!!!

    the way (as u said) she jumps and runs around as she had won d lottery, when i come home…it’s AWESOME!!!

    the way she sits silently next next to me when i am sad..saying so many things with her silence…it’s AWESOME!!!

    the way she barks at me jealously n in anger when i dare cuddling any other dog…it’s AWSOME!!!

    the way she gives sense to my life, makes me feel happy n complete even when it seems i’ve lost everything.. it’s AWESOME!!!

    the way she “washes my face up” whenever i cry or whenever i come back..it’s AWESOME!!!

    everything abt my khushi..my sweet little crazy terrible angel whom is d only reason i find strenght to go on..it’s AWESOME!!!

  15. aww.. i wanna a dog NOW! even though i run around the ones on the street that try to lick my heels when they’re out on their morning “walks”… :)

  16. I think the first two fish i had were called Shelly and Sandy or something along those lines. Apparently we killed them by cleaning their tank too much… So we buried them in the garden outside. Our next door neighbour had a Jack Russel called Buddy who was dearly loved. Then he got run over, and we all cried, but they got another ugly dog called Boof. When they moved and we got our Jack Russel called Jack we remembered Buddy in our hearts, and had excitement because we hd a dog too. :) <3

  17. This reminds me of my dog Cedar who recently passed away… now every Labrador I see looks just like her. I miss her very much.

  18. When we had our dog Motley put down, the first time I felt any kind of comfort was when I saw a man with a black lab at the train station. I asked him if I could just fuss and cuddle his dog and he laughed and said ok, and told me all about the dog, and I explained about Mots. I think him and his family were bout to get a train but he let me just hug his dog for about five minutes. We now have two more labradors, but I no longer live at home. So this time it’s any dog I see that I rush to go and fuss, but especially if it’s a labrador, and even more so if it is a black or yellow lab.

    My mum does the same, on her way to work she sees a man walking a dog who looks exactly like our Motley, and she always looks and talks to the dog through the window even though he can’t hear. I think the man thinks she’s insane. I think the best source of comfort no matter what you’re feeling is to just hug or talk to a dog.

  19. We had a Golden Retriever, Isaiah, who was one 0f the best companions ever. Very protective too. So much that he went to run something wild off the land and sadly never returned. Every time our dog, Nikko and I see a dog resembles Isaiah, we tear up and sometimes even cry. We miss him so.

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