Living With Gnaw

Reads: 517  | Likes: 3  | Shelves: 3  | Comments: 9

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

I'm never alone since Gnaw arrived.

Living With Gnaw.

He turned up outside my door when I was just eleven years old. A black dog, not fully grown but still not much smaller than I was. He looked in to my eyes and I knew that we belonged together. Besides, he had no collar, no tag with a name or phone number. He needed somewhere to live and I desperately needed a friend.

The strange thing about the dog was that no one else seemed to notice him. Well, that suited me fine. I’d not have to explain his existence to anyone; and I’d share my food with him, take him for walks. I'd ensure that he was well looked after.

I don’t know what decided me that the dog was male. I had been learning colors in French and noir was black. Gnaw was close enough, and should he turn out to be a she, it could simply be changed to Nora.

He accompanied me almost everywhere, sometimes keeping his distance but sometimes so comfortingly close. I could bury my head in his neck and he’d allow me to shed all my tears there. Gnaw would never think to pull away and leave me alone in my misery. He'd stay there, waiting for me to regain some sembellance of control.

Of course, at eleven, I’d not yet finished growing. But neither had he. He grew and he grew into something huge. Like a giant black wolf of a Pyranese Mountain dog on steroids. He’d be happy in his basket sometimes, one so large I could hardly pass it by without tripping, but other times he’d want to be involved in everything, casting out his own black view for me to share.

Apart from getting larger, Gnaw has never seemed to age, no matter that he’s lived a lot longer than any normal dog. Whole lifetimes longer. He promised me on that first day that he would never desert me and has proved to be true to his word. He’s never far, always ready to come leaping to my side.

Lately, it is as though we are waltzing, so close does he keep. My own eyes see through his and it is a dark and black vision. He dwarfs me now, puts his paws on my shoulders and weighs me down. I’ll clench handfuls of his fur in my hands and sob and sob; he bears it all so patiently.

Sometimes I feel like I should curl up in his basket, let him smother me slowly. So tired, I could easily do that. Gnaw knows that should I do so, he’d die too. Maybe that’s why he offers just enough comfort to keep me carrying on. No one would miss us, not for long. Invisible, he is; and insignificant am I.

But every day, we start off with a game. I’ll throw him sticks and let him run free for a while, and then he’ll trot by my side quite content. It’s only when needed that he gets closer, that he puts his paws on my shoulder and gives me his eyes. Sometimes I think I can no longer distinguish between us – he is me, and I would not exist without his canine presence.

It’s not his fault that I need him more often these days; Gnaw, my very own black dog!

Submitted: June 25, 2018

© Copyright 2021 hullabaloo22. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Mike S.

We all could use a Gnaw--excellent, Hull!

Mon, June 25th, 2018 5:02pm


Thank you, Mike, but I don't think you could....he's my big giant of a black dog of depression, loyal til the end.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 10:55am

Adam L.

Beautiful picture and nice story, Ms. Hullabaloo

Mon, June 25th, 2018 5:35pm


Thanks for reading, Adam.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 10:56am

D. Thurmond aka JEF

Takes me back to a dog named Goldie. Good story, thanks for the flash-backs..

Mon, June 25th, 2018 6:56pm


Thanks for reading, JE.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 12:19pm

Jeff Bezaire

The first sentence of the second paragraph clued me into what this story is about and suddenly I wasn't so excited about reading it.
It's a strong story, whether read as is or interpreted, about the companionship everyone needs. Only, this isn't the kind of companionship anyone needs. It's the worst kind of companionship, so deceptive and toxic; the most poisonous of "friends".
It's depression's gift, what it thrives on, convincing us it's our friend, that we need it. We come to depend on it because for some reason, it comforts us. It makes our negativity and despair feel good. The power depression can hold over us is unfathomable. It's incredible how easily it can wrap its arms around us, smothering us, yet we embrace it and think it's helping us.
Sometimes we embrace it because it's the only friend we have. Other times, we welcome it because it's the only thing that brings us any comfort. Its words are our words; we're taking comfort in the dark parts of our mind; accepting the lies and hate that have accumulated during our life.
I will say, the most common thing for depression to make us believe is that no one will care when we're gone, that we're insignificant. The small differences we make have a bigger impact than what one good deed could accomplish. There are people who make millions of dollars a year, who are on the cover of magazines who are less significant than us regular people. Attention and recognition does not determine one's significance. But I remember the days when I used to tell myself I was insignificant and no one would miss me if I were gone. It's bullshit. We are each a pebble casting ripples in so many different pools. We're too caught up worrying about drowning in the pool that we don't realize the splash we've made.
That big black dog is always reliable, always there and always ready to lean on you because it's feeding off of you. If only teddy bears could combat the monster that is depression while we slept. I don't think any child would suffer depression then.
This is a powerful right, something that took me back to my early days of depression. Written honestly, and I know the reason for that. I know you get it too often, so I won't offer my sympathies and I won't offer my understanding, but I will say that you're not alone and you are not insignificant, Hully.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 7:15pm


Thank you Jeff. I think you are the only person to truly understand the meaning of the piece, although I tried to give a lot of clues. And it is true. He turned up when I was eleven and has been a companion to some extent ever since.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 12:24pm

Sue Harris

Beautiful story, Hully. Dogs sense emotions, are so loyal and never judge. As this story conveys, the bond between Gnaw and his owner knows no bounds. A bit like me and Sadie actually! As you probably expected... I loved this.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 8:04pm


You know, Sue, everybody but one has read it as a story of a real dog, but it was actually the black dog of depression that it was based upon. I guess the other way of looking at it made for a much more pleasant read!
Thanks, Sue.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 2:19pm

Vance Currie

This story is an excellent personification of a mental state. I knew that the dog was a creation of the girl's mind and I could see that he gave her comfort, but I didn't pick that Gnaw was Depression personified until I read your answer to the first comment. I read the story again with that in mind and it all fell into place. Even the name Gnaw had a purpose in the context of anxiety and torment. I might have guessed Gnaw's true nature had I ever suffered from depression, but without that experience, I never would have seen depression as giving comfort. But maybe that's not quite true. There was a low point in my life when I took comfort from calling myself a failure, as if admitting that made it OK. That was my dog for a while. But then a bigger dog called success came along and chased failure away before it could become a permanent part of me.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 9:29pm


Oh, Gnaw and me are pretty much inseparable by now, Joe. It's a long time since I was eleven. And he does compromise sometimes, goes and plays with other doggy friends, but he's never far away and will always find his way back. It's not so much taking comfort in depression, more that he's the only one that can understand.
Don't know if I made the slightest bit of sense. Thanks so much for reading.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 2:57pm


What a great story, Hully... very creative.

Mon, June 25th, 2018 9:38pm


Thanks, jaylisbeth. Did you get that Gnaw was the black dog of depression?

Mon, June 25th, 2018 2:58pm

Joy Shaw

I love Gnaw. Has such personality. Beautiful story of the comfort man’s bestfrend can offer. He reminded me of Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Tue, June 26th, 2018 10:34am


When I was about twelve, one of my closest friends struggled with depression. Being twelve, my other friends and I had no idea what was going on. We just saw that she was different- distant, apathetic- and we were scared. Since we didn't have the vocabulary, let alone the experience, to recognize depression, we came to the very serious conclusion that a giant evil snake must have eaten her soul, and we spent many hours plotting how to find and kill said snake so she could have her soul back. (If only it were that simple, huh?)
I'll admit it took me a second reading to understand that Gnaw is depression, but once I read it again I saw all the signs, and that was the first thing I thought of. Sending you love, and reminding you that even if you can't see them, there are always people behind you trying to kill the evil snake (or dog), and even if they can't defeat it, they are still trying because you are worth defeating a snake / dog for. :)

Tue, June 26th, 2018 11:57pm


Thank you, Kathryn. I think this must have been one of my most confusing writes to understand!

Wed, June 27th, 2018 10:17am

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