Why Dogs Live Less Than Humans

First, no my dog did not pass away! (right after I wrote this I realized you might have thought so, based on the title)…

I found the following short-story sort about why dogs live less than humans – sort of by accident. I don’t know it’s original source. However I decided to share it with you because my own dog occupies a special place in my (and Mrs.J’s) heart, and the story touched me. Put a lump in my throat…

Although my little-buddy is seemingly in reasonably good health at this time, for a dog he is considered “old” (soon to be 12). He sleeps a lot these days… But he is always by my side or in the same room or nearby, and has always been a dear part of our lives. I try not to think about the day when he is no longer with us, but I know it’s coming.

We can learn many simple and valuable lessons from these creatures. Some of which follow this short-story.

Why Dogs Live Less Than a Human – Answer From a 6-Year-Old

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, “I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said, “People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued,

“Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you’re not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.



  1. Thank you Ken…..this reminds us of what’s really important as we make our way down this road we call life……

    Don’t know why….maybe because of the conversation some of us had yesterday….but, I was reminded of a speech given by actor Ed Harris in the barbershop of a small town….concerning a young man called “Radio” in the movie by the same name.

    The words that stuck with me ever since I first watched it were “Radio treats us all the time like we wish we treated each other just part of the time”……………….

    Looks like another beautiful day shaping up folks, join me in trying to do things right today.

  2. That story hits home with me. I have had 12 dogs pass away who were the best buddies you could ask for. When I lost the closest one to me in 2007, I was having a hard time adjusting, and a dear friend told me when I asked why dogs don’t live longer lives, and he basically told me about the same thing….He said people take a longer time to get their lives in order where dogs always get it right the first time.

  3. Thanks for sharing this story Ken. I grew up working with other people’s dogs and I wanted one of my very own as an adult. Now I find I would have difficulty without one around me in my home.

    I have adapted the old adage that if my dog does not like you, I am very wary of you. I believe dogs are better judges of character than most people and they are the most trustworthy of friends.

    There is a reason they become family so quickly. Give Sampson a pat and a treat for me.

    1. Some people give off pheromones that show what a person feels, how they talk, or has chemical imbalances and you don’t see it. You find this in epilepsy dogs, and protection dogs…. Cool huh?

  4. Philosophy of being a puppy:

    If you cannot eat it or play with it, Pee on it and walk away.

    – T-shirt worn on an old hipster.

    1. I had a Tshirt that said, The more I know men, the more I like my dog. heh, heh, heh…

  5. Wow an awesome story, thanks Ken.

    P.S. My first thought was OH NO Sampson passed…

    1. NHM,
      I thought the same of Sampson.

      I was reluctant to read the article.

  6. I’ve got a little Boston (11 yrs) that is getting to the point where it pains me probably more than it does her to see her try to walk around or to the bathroom….I still remember holding her in the palm of my hand when she was a baby. Don’t want to see her suffer. The time may be getting close to me having to say good-bye…it will break my heart.

    1. I have a GSD/wolf mix who can barely walk, He is 13 and 110 lbs, and I have to hold his tail so he doesn’t crash into walls or fall. It pains me to know he will be crossing the rainbow bridge any time. So big Doggie hugs to you. Your Bostie gave you a gift of love, so you can keep it forever.

      1. Stardust,
        Maybe you should get your old pup some pot, if it is legal there. It’s legal here in Colorado, so i went into a “dispensery” and asked. found some stuff called “Ripple 20:1”. 10 mg of CBD and 0.5 mg of THC per dose. I quartered this dose and used to give it each night to Ol’ Jake beore he passed over last summer. Calmed him enough, and took away the pain so the pup could sleep. He made to just short of 13-1/2. Glad i could make his last days pain free. DW and I miss him something terrible.

    2. It pains me to read that but that’s just the natural way of things unfortunately. Have the same age little BT and she’s going strong so far. Have similar memories waking up in the middle of the night taking her out in my hands when she was just a pup. Don’t wanna think about *that* future time.

  7. Thanks, man. My best bud is Jack, and he is a spitting image of your dog!

  8. When my beloved German Shepherd passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly at an early age, it affected me so much that I had a ‘Flashback’ of an event that happened 47 years previously in Vietnam. My best buddy was shot and died right beside me, and I re-lived it all over again and broke down completely.

    True love.

  9. I consider myself to be a strong man, but this article brings fresh tears to my eyes, my constant companion for 9 years died from cancer less than a month ago and I’m still heart broke. MC was a Pit that never met a person or dog that he didn’t like, even though he scared some people when we were hiking, if he saw someone 200 yards away he would have to run and greet them. He was always well mannered and obeyed, but you couldn’t call him back when he went to greet someone. When ever you talked to him he would cock his head from side to side trying so hard to understand what you were saying. Living in town but somewhat of a rural neighborhood, everyone said he was the neighborhood dog. I think he was more known in town than I, and better liked. I do miss him so much, everyone says I need to get another dog since I spend so much time in grizzly country, but I just do feel like I can fill that empty spot with another dog. Trekker Out

    1. Mountain Trekker
      You sound like a good dog owner,you should get another dog, they need you. Won’t replace your MC but dogs need good owners.

    2. my condolences on your loss, I’ve been there three times , the last time was almost 9 yrs ago before I got my last pup ( he is now almost 7 now ). good luck to you.

  10. This is a lovely story. Sampson is a beautiful doggy! Look at those thoughtful eyes :) Give him a smooch for me
    Luv ya’ll, Beach’n

  11. Our mini, Henry, just turned 14 this month. I’m thankful we’ve been graced with him this long and hope for a good while longer! We tell him every day that he’s smarter than most of the people we know!

  12. my best friend has been gone for a month now and i still see him everywhere. he was a good boy.

    1. I feel your pain brother… Mrs. J and I just returned from a 4-day visit with a friend in southern NH, and it was the first time in 13 years that our dear Sampson was not with us on an overnight trip. Returned home a few hours ago, and the house seems extra quiet and empty without him. Sadness floods back in.

    2. scout
      My Pork Chop has been gone 9months. I still hear her bark at night. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her dearly. I know how you feel and what you’re going through.

      Hang in there, these precious loved friends are waiting for us on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge

Comments are closed.