Ode to a Dog

Ode to a Dog

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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 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.

100 thoughts on “Ode to a Dog

  • Cyrena Grace Post author

    Been watching since Willy was a puppy. I will miss hearing about him but know that he will be healed soon. Praying for comfort for your family in this difficult time.

  • Rachel Lynch Post author

    what a good boy!

  • Megan Jeganathan Post author

    That’s so heart breaking. Pets are definitely family.

  • SlytherinBookworm Post author

    I came home for winter break two years ago and one of the first things my parents told me was that my dog, who was only 7, had lymphoma and they hadn’t wanted to tell me earlier because I had finals. I spent the next couple of weeks taking him to the vet and trying to make as many memories as I could. I was studying abroad the next semester and as far as I knew treatment was going really well. Until I got a message the day before Easter telling me they had to put him down the night before and also my 15 year old cousin had cancer. I cried and cried alone in a hotel room as my friends were downstairs meeting family for the first time. I didn’t even tell a few of them until we had gotten back to Rome and it just all boiled over. Losing a friend like that sucks and it gets better but it will always hurt. I’m sorry.

  • Avery-Quinn Maddox Post author

    "Only a dog?"
    Well, you're only a human… what's your point? That dogs are lesser than humans?

  • Brianna Zealand Post author

    A dog is never just a dog, and this goes for all pets. Animals bring comfort and understanding to us. My pets are certainly my family. Your dog sounds like a great family member :3

  • Micah Stoicu Post author

    We lost my 14 year old baby a couple weeks ago. This video popped up on my recommends and it reminds me so much of her <3

  • maggie beckett Post author

    My Wisty was a good one too. She knew when I was dealing with feelings that were too big for me, and would come and sit by me. Wisty was a good one. Maybe one of the greats. I will never forget her.

  • Richard Xia Post author

    <3 that was beautiful

  • chamber of words Post author


  • Brian Morton Post author

    I have west two west highland white terriers, or… I did. One passed away in 2016, and the other may be going any month now as well. For Willie’s sake, I hope he has a pleasant exit.

  • Ava Anderson Post author

    I just want to acknowledge that in all the comments I've seen, there are no dislikes on any of them. I love the fact the no matter where you came from or what you believe, if there is something as pure as the love a dog has for its owner, everyone will return that love sevenfold. Us as human beings are reminded of the ability to care whenever we see dogs. They happy dance, they sing, they smile. Their eyes glitter and they fidget, and at some point, they all give at least a cuddle. The innateness of benevolence is in people, but it is not constant. Thank you Fireball Wilson and puppies everywhere for showing your love, always. We all can learn from you.

  • squeekytoy123 Post author

    John, I am so sorry for you and your family :(. Willy is such a special dog and he spans such disparate parts of your life – married before kids to having young children and a family. I'm glad that you got to spend so much time with him <3. As a long time nerdfighter I have wondered where Willy went, so thanks for the explanation of privacy (which I more than understand) because I had missed him.

    I just had my first pet as an adult die. Not to get super SWF about it, but I had the best cat and I left a window open and he jumped or fell out (I live on an 8th floor apartment). I don't know who to talk to about it so thanks just writing here… I miss him. Pets are wonderful, at least you gave Willy a long and happy life.

  • Darlene Lesmana Post author

    I think you spent too much time writing tfios

  • Toade Talks Post author

    I am crying, this video made me smile, scream and cry so many feelings in the span of three minutes and fourty five seconds

  • Emery Paine Post author

    I wouldn't be surprised if he can actually tell when something is wrong.

  • Seamus Hughes Post author


  • Shrisha P. Post author

    Rest in peace, Willy. We love you.

  • Millissa Martin Post author

    Our community stands with you today in mourning Willy. I wish you peace and strength on this difficult day.

  • holypicklesmofo Post author

    RIP Willy

  • The Primeval Void Post author

    RIP Willy.

  • Olivia Neumann Post author

    Today, Willy has died. Let’s hope Willy, so lovingly described in this video, lives on happily ever after in whatever puppy heaven that may or may not exist.

  • Jennifer Goebel Post author

    RIA Willy.

  • DrSunflowers Post author

    Im sorry for your loss.
    Willie is surely in doggie heaven now. Hope you guys are doing better soon.

  • Munjee Syed Post author

    Rest in piece

  • untappedinkwell Post author

    May the Dread Pirate Fireball Wilson Roberts Green Rest in Awesome.

  • fibonacci227 Post author

    He's a good dog. Love you all.

  • Swapnil Patil Post author

    Has anyone else come here for crying today coz Willy is no more? I don't know why the tears just won't stop 💔

  • Anahi Mndz Post author

    I'm crying so badly.

  • ReYo Post author

    Rest in Awesome, WIlly. <3

  • aidan ! Post author

    Rest in peace Willie

  • Denn Post author


  • Honey Bear Post author

    Our greatest gifts. 🐶

  • Katie Moss Post author

    Rest in Awesome Fireball Wilson Roberts Green

  • Backinblack Bunny Post author

    I put down my dog of 15 years on June 11 of 2007 and it struck me suddenly last year that it had been a decade since she was gone. Fiona was also a westie, like Willy, and for an socially awkward, ADHD, too tall girl, she was a panacea for all the hurts the world inflicts on girls that aren't pretty and don't fit into cultural expectations. For most of my childhood she was my only friend and she prepared me for a lot of life's challenges like parenting (babies and puppies; very similar) and eventually loss. Putting her down was painful but also beautiful. She had bladder cancer and was incontinent and was probably a little senile and deaf and couldn't see well but she was still sweet and happy. We didn't want to wait until she would have trouble emptying her bladder and then getting infections. She didn't go in pain or scared. The vet put a pillow down on the table for her and slowly put her to sleep first and then stopped her heart. I wish we could all go so easily. 
    Dogs are family. Fiona was my baby. She was everything I needed and was without. Acceptance without judgment, patient and serene devotion. Dogs are family

  • Meghan McCullough Post author

    Westies are the best. 💕

  • Nathan Rigsby Post author

    RIP FWRG. We will never forget your awesomeness.

  • xWarriorOfLegendx Post author

    I'm sorry he passed yesterday, John. Thinking of your family, especially the kids x

  • Toade Talks Post author

    Does anyone know what breed Willie is?

  • Aishee Post author


  • Mark Susskind Post author

    John is willy, willy cute! Bye, Willie.

  • Carolyn C Post author

    Willy, you were and still are much loved, and terribly missed. Thank you for being a part of John's family, and nerdfighteria. Love to you, John, and family.

  • Mariposa Redimida Post author

    What a sweet boy! I had a similar situation with my dog who passed away last December. the only time I was able to cuddle her was when she was really sick, only a few days away from her passing. Love her so much!

  • calichef1962 Post author

    I am an only child who grew up surrounded by adults. Other children never understood me. They used to say things like, "You talk like you swallowed a dictionary." Probably because they were too stupid to understand what I was saying. By eighth grade my vocabulary and language skills were at a second year college level. Children went out of their way to be mean or bully me. I never understood it and probably never will. Luckily, I always had a dog. Dogs have ALWAYS been my best friends and, even as a middle-aged woman, they still are. I simply cannot live without my canine best friends. My current best friends/fur babies are Jethro and Ellie, a pair of unrelated chihuahuas who are collectively known as The Tiny Terrors. Ellie is more like your Willy and Jethro is a full-on snuggle baby. He sleeps with his back against my back, under the covers, every night. Ellie prefers to sleep on the pillow on the other side of the bed, or at my feet. If she gets really cold she asks to get under the covers by digging at the top edge of the covers, or my hand, and then sleeps under the covers against my belly once I raise the covers so she can get in with Jethro and me. They are both going to be eight this year and I know that my time with them is more than half spent. I fully intend to find chihuahua or pomeranian puppies to step into Jethro or Ellie's places when their time comes to an end. I have come to understand that I simply cannot live happily without my tiny fur babies.

  • Sarah S Post author

    I swore I wouldn't cry…don't know why I even tried to believe that.

  • Jennifer Crebs Post author

    I’m crying

  • Aud Mo Post author

    Thank you, John. Just… thank you.

  • hotdrippyglass Post author

    Fireball Wilson Roberts Green lives on; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZdGE-G03Lc .
    And Willie will continue to live on in our hearts and in perpetual renewal as young dogs get introduced to Hanks song for Willie. Thank You John for sharing Willie with the rest of the world. We are all richer for knowing of his presence on this planet. <3

  • Caita Pierson Post author

    John, I totally understand. My dog, at age 13, is in the last year (or so) of his life. Similar to you, I have ocd and anxiety as well which my dog has been with me through it all. As a little kid, I would come home from school crying on many occasions because of the “voices” (ocd) in my head. Bach, my dog, was always there to hug, always there to snuggle with, and always there to cheer me up. From kindergarten to almost now me graduating, he has been there. I guess what I’m saying John is that it’s hard for others to understand people like us, but the support a dog can provide when others do not understand is irreplaceable. I hope you see this and know you’re not alone. #nerdfighteria

  • Elle Post author

    rest in peace willie. I'm praying for your family John.

  • Sam Womack Post author


  • K VanNorstrand Post author

    Coming back to re-watch this video after hearing that Willy passed away. Sending a lot of virtual hugs to the Urist-Green family.

  • Jennifer Holian Post author

    What a lovely video😭

  • Lasse Andresen Post author

    "He takes me seriously, like no human can." That one hit home so hard…

  • Ivy Maisonet Post author

    made me cry

  • blazebabe11 Post author

    We just lost our fuzzy baby and this helps in s9me way

  • Amelia Isobel Post author

    Knowing that I've been watching since you got willy and now hearing this, i'm actually crying a whole lot about this.

  • Oh, Marge. Post author

    <3 I can 100% relate to my animals somehow "knowing" what's going on, internally, for me. Good boy, Fireball Wilson Roberts Green.

  • Mara Lorca Post author

    Willy willy cute 🙂

  • Autumn Brooke Post author

    so love willie.

  • Elijah L Post author

    I never met willie, and I never got to meet Lemon, but I think both of them are an important part of your lives, especially outside of the Internet. They’re good dogs, folks

  • BraverThanYouBelieve Post author


  • Claire Conover Post author


  • Christopher OBrien Post author


  • Erin Stohlmeyer Post author

    I watch this video when I need a good cry. And I mean good in the best possible way. Love to the family and thanks again for sharing.

  • marilena papavassiliou Post author

    Why does this have forty downvotes? Who dislikes a man talking about his dog?

  • broadwaymelody33 Post author

    Oh god. I remember when you got him. I’m crying.

  • Sai Pranav Rachakonda Post author

    Am I the only one that cried while watching this

  • Sam Fess Post author

    How can someone possibly dislike this video

  • Blondie Wise Post author


  • HT200 Post author

    Everyone needs to stop saying "only" a dog. They are magnificent, perfect, loving, wise creatures who share our lives. Any human would be lucky to love and be loved as much as a dog.

  • dragonswamp animations Post author

    These videos gonna break me, man

  • Rachel f Post author

    My westie died in 2016 due to canine pulmonary fibrosis aka westie lung disease. I know what you're going through. My dog was only 9.5 even though the lifespan is between 12-14.

  • Toria P. Post author

    Why am I crying

  • Kat Post author


  • AwesomeCat2012 Post author

    This is so sweet!! I'm behind times, so idk if Willy has passed or not, but I'm truly sorry for your loss… either past tense or in the future.

  • Relevantly irrelevant Post author


  • Farzana Islam Post author

    And now I am crying for a dog! Goddamn John Green. You are really good at eulogies.

  • Nerdfighter21 Post author

    Exactly a month after this video was posted, Willy passed away. https://twitter.com/johngreen/status/978638651524599808?lang=en <3

  • Isabel Song Post author

    Rewatched this today and cried even more than I did the first time I saw it. I'm homesick for my dog and can't wait to go home next week for Thanksgiving break and give her all the kisses and cuddles she can take.

  • Jo Richner Post author

    I also got my dog in 2008 and worry constantly about this. I saw a Ted talk about animal emotions and he said that not animals have them so assuming humans are the only one with them is wrong. So your right that he knows your anxious and comforts you. My dad's dog does this when Trump comes on. Humans don't deserve dogs but lucky to have them.

  • Error NameMissing Post author

    My partners dog passed away just the other day at the age of 15. She kept apologising for being upset, but its true that pets, dogs especially, are a part of the family. They seem, at least on some level, to understand and empathise our emotions. Can only hope they have a good life and know how happy they make us all. God Bless our doggy companions. ^.^

  • Sarah P Post author

    My cat is almost totally unable to walk, and has a lot of neck pain. He's had a bad back for a couple years now, but it escalated all at once, 2 days ago.
    I've had him since before I can remember, and as I'm almost an adult, I've literally grown up with him. He's been my rock through every big change in life. He's such a cuddlebug, every time I was stressed or sad, I could hug him tight and hear him purr. It was one of the most calming feelings in the world.
    I love that cat more than words can describe. I don't know how I'll deal with his loss, the thought of it is unbearable. I know it's almost time, but I don't want him to go.

  • Vaibhav Sharma Post author

    I am crying

  • Haley Wink Post author

    Is willie okay? Does anybody know? 😣❤️

  • cluttered_sky Post author


  • Shawna Howley Post author

    Willie's song will always be my favorite <3<3

  • Laura Vieira Post author

    Willy might have been a cat.

  • spencersonnier1 Post author


  • brian spiekerman Post author

    No such thing as "only a dog". You said yourself how much he meant to you and how much he gave to you. That's not an "only".

  • skinnywizard103 Post author

    This resonates with so much. My dog that I grew up with for 11 years died in 2018 as well. I know it’s been a year and my deepest condolences. It’s astonishing how much of a gap they leave after they have departed.

  • Jeremy Rankin Post author

    We had to put our dog down this June. It was so hard. We were also a family of 5. And the dog preceded the children, but he embraced them and loved them and they loved him back. This video really hit the mark for me. Thank you, John.

  • Brooke TheBook Post author

    My mom told me tonight that fairly soon, we will have to put my dog Roxie down. Yes, she is my profile picture. She is definitely the best thing to come into our family's life to date and has been my best friend for just over 10 years. She had this way of talking to you with her eyes and when I felt depressed or just rotten or also happy she came to me and made me feel better like no one else could. With literally just her eyes. I love her to pieces and even though I won't physically always be with her, she will always be with me.

  • Ellie Larson Post author

    For freaks sake my dogs are 11 and I feel like I didn't give them a good enough life and they might die soon and I'm terrified, I don't-I barely even remember a life without them. I feel like I didn't spend enough time with them and I'm so so sad and guilty and guilty and upset at myself.

  • Hannah Roberts Post author

    This really touched me

  • Nicole Garrett Post author

    The original puppy size elephant.

  • SpecificallyKate Post author

    Love you Fireball Wilson Roberts, First Dog of Nerdfighteria

  • Alexandra Harris Post author


  • Conner Fields Post author

    Is he still around?

  • Umgubular Slashkilter Post author

    I have trouble doing the emotions thing, where i push them back to comfort my loved ones and later am unable t get back to them, or something. My giant black dog of 12 years, a loyal, fiendishly smart friend that was so incredibly flawed and imperfect and unquestionably a member of my family, died after several year of illnesses, surgeries, treatments and ups and downs and complications and improvements. I couldn't cry for her at the moment, and then couldn't bring myself to cry when I was away, because the sadness stopped feeling like a knife to the chest and started feeling like a stone tied to my neck, not enough to cause the strong emotion for the tears to come, but constant and suffocating. I am glad the murky depths of the youtube algorithm brought this video to my recommended page, reminding me, that you don't have to follow the traditions, that you can have a eulogy before death and that I can mourn for my lost friend after she is long gone.
    You turned the stone hanging from my neck into a stab wound again, John, and it finally feels like I will be alright again, that I am not alone. I knew that before, of course, rationally. But you have always had the ability to bring out my emotions and process my life. Thank you.
    I wanted to delete this rambling and incoherent comment when i typed it. But, even though you will probably not read it, because there are thousands of people commenting and I really hope you are spending time with your family instead of reading all of them, I want to say it: Than you, John, for always helping me feel, when I can't.

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