Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday So, our dog, Willy, is probably near the end of his life, and I don’t want 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, furball, 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. Like, when our children were smaller, 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 presense 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 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 value 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 alone 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 scared. 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 becomes 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.