A Dog’s Life

Once upon a time there was a boy named Graham. He was about nine or ten years old. He was an ordinary boy. He lived in a house. He had a mom and dad. He went to school. He played baseball, but he wasn’t a star. He got good grades most of the time, but sometimes he would forget an assignment or be thinking of other things and not do as well as he should. Or he would daydream. He wished he didn’t have to go to school and he wished he was a baseball player for the White Sox and he wished he was a mountain climber and he wished he was an explorer in the jungles of Africa. But most of the time he played outside with his good friend Kenny.

One day he went outside to play with Kenny and found out Kenny couldn’t play because he was sick. That made the day kind of boring, so he went to the nearby park hoping to find someone to play with. No one was there, or at least no kids. But there was a man throwing a Frisbee for his dog. Graham leaned against a big boulder and watched the dog. The dog ran super fast and caught the Frisbee before it hit the ground. The dog jumped ten feet high and snatched the Frisbee out of the air. The dog looked so cool and was having so much fun that Graham said to himself, “I wish I was a dog.”

Just then, Graham's body shook and he felt sick. He looked at himself and he could not believe what he saw. Instead of his normal arms and legs, he had the furry legs of a dog! He couldn’t believe it. He ran to the fountain in the middle of the park and looked in the water at his reflection. He had the head of a dog and the body of a dog. He was a dog!

Graham ran fast like the other dog. He jumped high like the other dog. It was fun — for a few minutes. Then he realized something. “I’m not myself. I’m not Graham. I’m a dog. I don’t want to be a dog. I want to be me!” He ran over to the man in the park and tried to ask for help, but when he opened his mouth, loud barks came out instead of words. The man yelled at him and told him to go away. Graham ran over to an old lady on the sidewalk and tried to get her to help him, but again, all that came out of his mouth were barks. The old lady yelled at him too and she hit him with her cane. Ouch! That really hurt. Then a big dog came running at him. The big dog was snarling and growling. Graham the dog ran as fast as he could but the big dog was right behind him. Finally Graham got away by crawling under a fence the big dog couldn’t get under. I guess being a dog is fun for dogs, but it is not fun for boys.

Graham didn’t know what to do and he had never been sadder. He just wanted to be home in his own bedroom. He went to his house and snuck in the back door, but his mom saw him. She screamed. She grabbed a broom and chased him out of the house. Graham was now even sadder. He wandered around the town. Some people were nice to him and petted him. Other people moved away from him. One man tried to pick him up and put him in his car, but Graham wiggled out of his arms and ran away.

Graham was now sadder than ever and it was dark. He was hungry. He was cold. He was lonely. He thought he would have to live his whole life as a dog, but dogs didn’t understand him either. He found an old cardboard box and crawled inside and lay down. Graham thought of how he cried in his bed at home when he was sad. But dogs don’t cry. All he could do was whine and whimper. He wondered why he had to be a dog and how he could go back to being just Graham. He lay for hours, whimpering and thinking.

Finally at about 11 o’clock Graham had a brilliant idea. He thought to himself, “When I wished I was a dog, I was leaning on that boulder. Could that boulder be magic?” It was a crazy idea, but he ran to that boulder, put his paw against it, and in his dog language shouted as loudly as he could, “I WISH I WAS JUST GRAHAM!”

Again he felt sick and his body shook. He looked at himself and he was no longer a dog! He was a boy again! He jumped up and down screaming, “I’m Graham, I’m Graham, I’m Graham again!” He had never been happier in his whole life.

Graham ran home. He was so happy to see his mom and dad. But his mom was crying and said, “Graham, where have you been?” And his dad was yelling, “You were supposed to be home before dinner!” He wanted to tell them what had happened, but he couldn’t. He knew his dad would say he was making up a crazy story and his mom would say he was being silly and give him a kiss as she tucked him into bed. He didn’t say anything. They grounded him for a week, but he didn’t care. He was so happy to be Graham again. He loved his dad, he loved his mom, he loved his house, he loved his bedroom, he loved his bed, and he loved being Graham. And from then on, whether things were good or bad, happy or sad, he never stopped loving being Graham.

What happened to Graham was so amazing that he wanted to tell someone. He thought about telling his teacher, but he knew she would tell him to stop dreaming and concentrate on his homework. He wanted to tell his friends, but he knew they would laugh at him and make fun of him. He just gave up. He never told anyone. For years and years and years, he kept the secret.

But then, after about fifty years, he told me. He told me the whole story, just like it is written here. At the end, he gave me a funny smile and he said it was just a funny story. And it is a funny story and a sad story and a happy story. I have thought about that funny story many times and I have thought about that funny smile Graham had when he told me it was just a story and do you know what I think? I think it is not just a funny story. I think it really happened. I’m sure it really happened.

What do you think?

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