The Black Dog.


Once there was a lady. A quite unremarkable lady, one you wouldn’t really stop and ask how her day went. You would smile at her and say good morning and as she walked away she would slip from your mind.


The lady had a husband who loved her dearly and two children she loved as though her very breathing depended on it.


The unremarkable lady had lived a remarkable life but nobody knew that because they had never asked and the lady had never cared to share.


One day, as the lady sat alone and thought again about the remarkable things that had happened to her, things that she had been alone in thinking about for so long, she felt a nudge against her hand.  A small black dog appeared at her side. The lady did not think much about the tiny dog, but as she gently scratched it behind the ears she felt a gentle pressure on her hand as the dog lay his little weight against her.


That night she couldn’t explain to her family that she hadn’t made dinner because the weight of the dog on her arm had stopped her from using it, so instead she made up a story about being tired and her family, who loved her unconditionally, smiled and ate their pizza with talk of an early night for the lady. None of them saw the black dog at the lady’s heels.


In the following weeks the unremarkable lady took comfort in the black dog. When everybody left her alone to go to work or school, the dog stayed. She would scratch its ears and offer it stories of all the remarkable things that had happened to her and the dog would cock its head and listen and with each story the dog would grow.


He would lie on her legs so that the lady could do nothing but lie on the sofa all day and tell him the stories and stroke him.


As he got bigger he would crawl on to her bed in the mornings and stop the lady from being able to get out of it.


Sometimes on a cold day he would wrap himself entirely around her and the lady would go numb with his weight.  She would like this. When the lady was numb she could speak to the dog of all the remarkable things that had happened to her and feel no pain or worry.


Sometimes, when the children came home from school, the black dog would have lain for so long and so heavy at the lady’s shoulders that she wouldn’t have the strength to lift her arms at all and hug the children home. Occasionally this would worry the lady, but the black dog would cuddle tight around her and breathe his hot breath in her ear and she would be comforted and know it was ok.


The lady’s husband, who loved her very much, could see the dog now and was worried it had gotten too big for the lady to carry. That his head filled their home and his body would follow the lady outside keeping her warm. The lady worried too, she worried that her husband, who loved her, was probably more of a cat person and it didn’t matter how much he loved her, a dog person and a cat person would never work. She knew he would be happier with other cat people.


She tried to tell him this. She tried to say that she loved him back but she knew without a doubt he would be happy elsewhere. She tried so hard.

But from all of the feeding, the black dog had grown so large now that it draped over her entire body and its giant paws muffled her mouth.  So all the lady could do was turn her back on her husband and cry in to the dogs’ fur whilst hoping he understood.


The dog grew and grew until the lady, unable to carry his weight anymore, broke underneath him. She fell to the floor and couldn’t see past him anymore.


The lady’s husband and children came to her and the lady was scared. She couldn’t see them and didn’t know them and she couldn’t get back up, the dog was too big to carry alone.


So, her husband, who loved her very much, tried to move the dog and he couldn’t, it was too big.  But with his strength he lifted a paw from the lady’s eyes so that she could see him and he whispered that he never was much of a dog person, he did however have a soft spot for unremarkable ladies.  And the lady heard. She reached a hand out from under the paw and she held tight to her husband.


Into the unremarkable lady’s life came a remarkable Dr who brought with her a cage.  She showed the lady the padlock and the door and she taught the lady how to talk through all the remarkable things that had happened to her whilst in the cage with the black dog. While the lady talked the dog slept and sometimes she would be able to sneak out of the cage and leave the dog there. Sometimes the dog would be wise to her tricks and be waiting at the door as she tried to leave but the lady had stopped scratching behind his ears and the dog had started to seem a little smaller each time.

One day, as she left the cage, her children came to her with a hug and she realised the dog was not pinning her arms and she was able to lift her children to her and hold them tightly.


It took a long time to tame the dog, summers and winters passed and he still played at her feet but she had learnt the commands to stop him from jumping up and on to her shoulders. Another summer came around and the lady’s stomach was growing with a new life and each kick gave her the strangest feeling. After a while the lady finally realised what the feeling was, it was warmth. For the first summer in a long time the lady could feel the sun away from the shadow of the dog. The lady hadn’t even realised she had been cold.


As autumn rolled around one more time and the unremarkable lady held her new baby for the very first time, she realised something else. She was, in fact, quite remarkable and she was definitely more of a cat person.


The black dog still follows the lady to this day and he always will, he is her dog and she has claimed him. Now though, he is small and he stays behind her hoping for attention. Sometimes, when the lady is tired or busy she absentmindedly reaches down and scratches behind his ears and the black dog is quick to cuddle to her legs but the lady feels the nudge and she is quick to send him back.  Sometimes though the numbness of him against her legs is a comfort and it’s hard to shake him off again so he will linger for a week or a month. But the remarkable lady knows that if the dog pushes too hard, for too long and her legs go too numb, she can reach for the hand of her husband, who loves her very much, and he will help her to remember how to open the cage and talk the dog inside to stay a little longer and all by herself the lady will remember just how remarkable she really is.


12 thoughts on “The Black Dog.

  1. Stunning writing. You are so talented. It was captivating. I was holding my breath, reading as fast as I could, until the dog had receded. Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I have never read anything that articulates the black dog as well as that
    . Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou x

  3. Ooph. And ooph again. In a good way.

    My black dog wanted to show me what it was like to be a live-in dog owner, without my family, in kennels. It wasn’t as healing as one might expect.

    The scary thing is how easy it is to accept that you must be a dog person, and how easy it would be to become and remain a dog person, because the dog is so familiar that being without it becomes frightening.

    • It’s terrifying being without it.
      Mine likes to remind me quite regularly about just how cozy it would be to snuggle back down again and let go.
      We can though. It’s not cozy it’s suffocating plus I’m fairly sure we’re allergic to dog hair ☺

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