A small dog’s young owner passes away, and he disappears. The cemetery guard takes him home and tells his owner’s mom a heartbreaking story.
When Steve died in a motorcycle accident, his parents, Darlene and Steve Sr. were devastated. Steve was their only child, the light of their lives. On the day of Steve’s funeral, Darlene couldn’t stop crying.
Steve Sr. consoled her as best he could, but they forgot one member of the family who was as grief-stricken as they were — Pickles, Steve’s dog, and his best friend.
How Pickles knew that Steve was dead is a mystery. He’d been going away to college in Massachusetts for a year, and it was there that the fatal accident happened.
But somehow, Pickles knew. On the day of the funeral, he stood anxiously by the door, whining piteously. Darlene alerted Steve Sr. “Honey, don’t let him out of the yard. He’s acting oddly.”
“I won’t,” Steve Sr. said. “We don’t need Pickles getting run over to add to the grief of the day.”
Beyond loss and grief, there will be a day when we will be with our beloved ones again.
Pickles was a 9-year-old rescue dog that Steve had adopted when he was ten. He’d begged and begged for a puppy, and Darlene and Steve Sr. had hesitated.
Was Steve mature enough for the responsibility of having a pet? They had finally relented and told Steve they would buy him a puppy from a local breeder.
“Buy?” Steve had been horrified. “You don’t BUY a friend! You find him, you recognize each other. You just know that’s going to be a friend for life!”
So Darlene and Steve Sr. had taken Steve to an animal shelter. Steve had seen almost every animal in the facility before he ‘found’ Pickles. He’d taken one look at the dog and dropped to his knees.
Darlene and Steve Sr. had watched astonished as their son crouched nose to nose with the dog whose tail was wagging ecstatically. “He’s the one,” Steve had grinned. “I found him!”
From then on, Steve and Pickles were inseparable. Whereever Steve went, Pickles went too. Steve had his human friends, of course, but Pickles was his constant and loving shadow.
“So can he roll over?” asked one of Steve’s aunts. “My dog can do all kinds of tricks!”
“Pickles is my friend,” Steve had replied. “I don’t humiliate him by expecting him to do tricks. Do you ask your friends to roll over and play dead?”
The woman felt offended and said to Darlene; “Your boy is odd, and that mutt is odder. I’d get rid of him if I were you!”
“Then I’m very glad I’m not you,” Darlene had told her sister. “Pickles is better company than a lot of humans I know!”
As Steve grew older, Darlene thought his attachment to Pickles would weaken. That didn’t happen. Even after Steve went to college, Pickles still slept on his bed — in his absence and when he came home.
Now Steve was gone, and somehow Pickles sensed that there was no coming back. Darlene knelt down and stroked Pickles’ silky ears gently. “Poor boy, I wish you could understand me,” she whispered. “Our beautiful Steve is gone…”
Darlene buried her face in Pickles’ fur and let the tears she had been holding back fall. “Come on honey,” Steve Sr. said gently. “It’s time to go.”
After the funeral, friends and family came over to the house to comfort Darlene and Steve Sr. as best they could, but someone must have left the gate open, and Pickles vanished.
However, the next morning he was back, and Darlene thought nothing of it. Pickles now spent his time lying by the gate, his head on his paws, looking longingly out at the street.
The only time he left his vigil was to eat. He even stopped sleeping on Steve’s bed. A few days later, Pickles escaped again, but by late afternoon he was back.
The next day, he was gone again. Darlene was worried. Pickles had never run away while Steve was alive. Where could he be going? “As long as he keeps coming back,” Steve Sr. reasoned. “I wouldn’t worry too much.”
Darlene did worry, and when Pickles vanished once again on a Sunday, she was determined to find him. She decided to place some flowers on Steve’s grave, then go hunting for Pickles at Steve’s old haunts.
She was in for a shock. When she arrived at the cemetery, she found Pickles there, lying on Steve’s grave, eyes closed. “Pickles,” Darlene gasped. “How…”
Darlene knelt on her son’s grave and placed a gentle hand on the dog’s head. Pickles looked up at her, then closed his eyes again and emitted a soft whine. “I miss him too, buddy,” Darlene whispered.
“Ma’am?” Darlene heard a voice behind her say. She turned around and found herself face-to-face with a tall middle-aged man with a kindly face. “Are you this dog’s owner?”
Darlene remembered what Steve had said about ownership and replied, “I’m his friend.”
“This dog’s been coming to this grave, and I’ve taken him back home three times,” the man said. “He just keeps coming back.”
“This…” tears flooded Darlene’s eyes. “Pickles was my son’s dog. This is his grave. How he even knew where to find him is a mystery…”
“This is where he wants to be, I guess,” the man said. “Close to his friend.”
“But he can’t, can he?” asked Darlene anxiously. “I hate to drag him home on a leash…”
“Let me talk to the director,” the man said. “He’s a dog lover too.”
The cemetery guard talked to the director and he allowed Darlene to place a small dog house next to Steve’s grave so Pickles could have shelter. Every day, either Darlene or Steve Sr. would come and feed the dog.
When Darlene visited Steve’s grave, she often found herself chatting, talking to Pickles as if he understood, reminiscing about Steve, and sometimes even found herself laughing at the happy memories.
Pickles was a little bit of Steve she could still touch and see and it comforted her. But three years after Steve passed away, Darlene came to the cemetery and Pickles didn’t jump up to greet her.
He was lying on Steve’s grave, the way he used to in the beginning, but he wasn’t asleep. Pickles was gone. Her last tangible link to Steve was gone.
Darlene caressed the faithful animal’s head one final time, and tears fell on the soft fur. “You’re with Steve now, Pickles, aren’t you? That’s what you’ve been waiting for all this time.”
“How I envy you! Tell him…Tell him I love him and miss him. Tell him I can’t wait to see him again.” Darlene dropped one last gentle kiss on Pickle’s head.
With the cemetery’s permission, Pickles’ tiny urn was placed next to Steve’s grave, with a plaque that read: “Best Friends Forever. Together in Life, Inseparable in Death.”
What can we learn from this story?
- Dogs are capable of deep, unconditional love. Pickles loved Steve so much, he wouldn’t be separated from him, even in death.
- One day, we will be reunited with those we love. Beyond loss and grief, there will be a day when we will be with our beloved ones again.