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In which John talks about his family's dog, Fireball Wilson Roberts Green.

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. So, our dog, Willy, is probably near the end of his life, and I don't want to wait until he dies to eulogize him. So, here goes.

Fireball Wilson Roberts Green came home with us in 2008. He was named for the alcoholic bulldog in James Crumbly's novel, The Last Good Kiss, but we called him Willy because, as the vet put it, he's "Willy Willy cute." Because he is cute, I expected Willy to be a cuddly, fur-ball, snuggly puppy, but Willy does not cuddle. Or, at least, he didn't until the last few months. He is a very strong-willed dog, at times exhaustingly so. He does not want your pity, and he does not want your baby talk. He does want your food, especially bacon and peanut butter, but not so much that he'll put up with your stupid human BS. Like, when our children were smaller, they would run around the house, holding dog treats, trying to get Willy to chase them, and he would for a while. But, then he would stop and go over to his dog bed, and wait for the kids to walk to him and feed him. And then, after eating the treats, he would dash away, returning the world to it's normal order: people running after him.

Speaking of kids, because Willy would not generally be classified as, like, a sweet dog, we worried a lot about new additions to our family. Like, how would Willy handle the sudden presence of a human child, and then two children, taking up so much of the attention we had once lavished upon him? Brilliantly, as it turned out. Willy has always been extraordinarily gentle and patient with with our kids, even when they were babies. There is nothing calm about the way Willy responds to anything except when it comes to kids. And, in turn, our children are fiercely loyal to him. Any time Sarah or I say in conversation that we are a family of four, the kids both shout back, "no! Five! You forget about Willy." And I say, "well, but four humans," and they say, "but five family members!" And, they're right. Willy is only a dog, and I recognize that, but he's our dog. And we are, for at least a little while longer, a family of five.

When we first brought Willy home, I talked about him a lot on the internet, but over the years, as I began to values the private-ness of my private life more, he became less of a fixture of my online life. But, he has been a constant in our family amid big changes, and, for me personally, even though his barking has ruined thousands of Vlogbrothers' takes, his companionship has been a profound gift, especially in hard times. One of the challenging things about my mental illness is how isolating it can be. Like, my obsessive fears and worries seem to other people wildly irrational, because, I suppose from an objective standpoint, they are wildly irrational. And that can make those fears difficult to share; like, nobody can really take my fear that "X terrible thing" is about to happen seriously, because they don't find my obsessive reasoning compelling. But that doesn't help me, because I find my obsessive thoughts incredibly compelling, and then there's the problem of not even wanting to talk about "X" for fear that talking about it will make "X" happen. Which, is why I'm currently referring to it as "X." And so, you end up in this spiral of thought, feeling very along, because people can love you and they can listen to you; but, they cannot share this feeling, because they know it to be irrational. But Willy doesn't know. All he knows is that I'm scarred. I want to be careful not to anthropomorphize Willy. He is not a person, and I don't know what life is like for him; but, I do believe, after ten years together that he knows when I'm worried. He knows when I am consumed by thoughts I cannot shake, and in those moments he gravitates to me. No cuddling, of course, but he will lay at my feet or walk around in circles to tell me that it is time to play together. He takes me seriously, in a way that no human can, and I'm grateful for that.

Willy is harder to take care of these days, and weeks of interrupted sleep have piled up on all of us, but still, I am grateful to him. As the cancer advances, and Willy become the quiet, chill, cuddly dog I thought I always wanted, I'm grateful for the dog he is and, also, for the stubborn, yappy, and loyal dog that he was. You're a good dog, Willy, and I love you. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.