“If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it;
to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively,
to equally profound sadness.”
— Marjorie Garber
Words and pictures by: Hans Wilhelm
Published by: Crown Publishers, Inc.
Book photo borrowed from the library.
All photos taken and edited by me.
Hello. Fats here.
Hans Wilhelm’s I’ll Always Love you is one of the sweetest picture books I’ve read. It revolves around a young boy’s relationship with his dog, Elfie. The story begins when both were still young and follows the two in their growing years.
As much as I love dogs, I’m not a big fan of stories that involve dogs dying. I’ve had four dogs since I was eight years old, and all of them died one tragic way or another. My last dog was a black Labrador named Artemis that died one stormy early morning in the Philippines. It was the only time I’ve cried for a pet. My heart mourned for her death but I think it was more heartbreaking for my mother who had to deliver the bad news over the phone, thousands of miles away.
In this picture book, however, Hans Wilhelm brilliantly handles a sensitive topic and delivers it with ease as he shows children – through Elfie and her human child – that death is a natural process. It shows that death is inevitable, and it doesn’t always end in a tragic way. As Haruki Murakami so eloquently puts it,
“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”
Hans Wilhelm’s I’ll Always Love You is a celebration of life and declaration of love as much as it is a portrayal of death. It delivers the beautiful message of telling people – and pets! – that we love them while we still can. It’s a message we are all familiar with yet still manage to overlook and take for granted. I realized that my pet needs that kind of attention and care, they are so deserving. After I read that book, I’ve been more and more cognizant of the ways in which I can improve their lives and in turn it has improved mine.