Why we forward jokes to our friends
Warren Bonner, a retired Orange, California businessman and former webzine
editor, has urged thousands of internet surfers around the world to send their
friends a sentimental story about a man and his dog wanting to enter Heaven.
The story (author unknown) is probably older than the internet itself. It
plucks at the heartstrings. These days, countless web surfers read it with a
smile, then send it on to their relatives and friends as suggested.
Bonner, an internet veteran who celebrated his 80th birthday on August 26, has
received virtually no credit for his modest contribution to global harmony.
The illustrated version of the story that dropped into our email box was
posted by Hamid Saleh on Iranscope, "an Iranian Site of Iran News and Iranian
Culture." Since it failed to show the author's name, we scoured the internet in
a vain search for his identity.
We visited scores of websites whose editors have stolen the story and
recycled it without a by-line. Jokes and pet lovers' sites display it beneath a
medley of headlines, including:
- Heaven Knows
- Heaven's Gate
- Heaven and Hell
- A True Friend
- Man's Best Friend
- A Man and His Dog
- The Old Man and His Dog
- The Water Bowl
- and (our favorite): Poems and Prayers for Pets Who Have Passed the
Eventually, we found the original story in a Google cache of a webpage that
has disappeared into cyberspace. It was written by Warren Debrell Bonner, who,
we found after further research, was born in Sweetwater, Texas, and now lives in
Orange, California, where he celebrated his 80th birthday on August 26.
His original story urged his readers to forward the tale about the man and
his dog to their friends. It was posted in Fido News on August 26, 2002.
Here's a transcript of the story, with its original headline and Bonner's
brief but important footnote shown in red italics:
forward jokes to our friends....
A man and his dog were walking
along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly
occurred to him that he was dead. He remembered dying, and that the
dog walking beside him had been dead for years.
He wondered where the road was
leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall
along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top
of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the
When he was standing before it
he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like Mother of
Pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward
the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"
"This is Heaven, sir," the man
"Wow! Would you happen to have
some water?" the man asked.
"Of course, sir. Come right
in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up."
The man gestured, and the gate
began to open.
"Can my friend," gesturing
toward his dog, "come in, too?" the traveller asked.
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't
The man thought a moment and
then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been
going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of
another long hill, he came to a dirt road which led through a farm
gate that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence. As he
approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and
reading a book. "Excuse me!" he called to the reader. "Do you have
"Yeah, sure, there's a pump
over there." The man pointed to a place that couldn't be seen from
outside the gate. "Come on in."
"How about my friend here?"
the traveller gestured to the dog.
"There should be a bowl by the
pump." They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old
fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveller filled the bowl
and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When
they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was
standing by the tree waiting for them.
"What do you call this place?"
the traveller asked. "This is Heaven," was the answer.
"Well, that's confusing", the
traveller said, "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too!"
"Oh, you mean the place with
the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's Hell."
"Well, doesn't it make you mad
for them to use your name like that?", the traveller asked.
"No. I can see how you might
think so, but we're just happy that they screen out the folks who'll
leave their best friends behind."
Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep
forwarding jokes to us without writing a word, maybe this could
explain: When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch,
guess what you do? You forward jokes.
When you have nothing to say, but still
want to keep contact, you forward jokes.
When you have something to say, but
don't know what, and don't know how, you forward jokes.
And to let you know that you are still
remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are
still cared for, guess what you get?
A forwarded joke!
So my friend, next time if you get a
joke, don't think that you've been sent just another forwarded joke,
but that you've been thought of today and your friend on the other
end of your computer wanted to send you a smile...
We found Bonner's email address, and asked him about the now-famous but
rarely attributed story. He replied, "I don't know who wrote the first part of
the article on heaven. I only attempted to get my readers to understand these
parables in real life.
"I resigned the editorship of Fido News because I was going blind and
could not see what I was doing." Bonner told us. "I have since had operations on
both eyes and now wish I could have my age operated on! I can see well, but the
80 years are pretty heavy."
A check of earlier issues revealed that Bonner often wrote most of Fido
News, and at one stage was its editor. "Fidonet in the ‘80s was the
beginning of the Internet," he said. "In the ‘80s they were twins, but the
internet took off in the mid ‘90s and dwarfed Fidonet, because Fidonet had such
restrictive basic guidelines. It is still a viable web around the world for
those interested in life and happiness in communication without the spam."
He told us that shortly after posting his last article, he had been rushed to
hospital. "Thank God for the veterans' clinics and hospitals," he said. "I've
had both knees replaced, and recovered from a heart attack. Now I have new
lenses in both eyes. Life is good again at 80."
Does anyone know who wrote the original story about the man and his dog? If
so, please let us know!
VARIETY SPICE OF HIS LIFE
Warren Debrell Bonner was born in Fisher County, Texas, on August 16,
1925, on a ranch named The Ole Eighteen, because it was 18 miles
square. He grew up on his father's dairy farm near Sweetwater, in the Texas
Panhandle, and attended Newman High School. By the time he ended his junior
year, World War II was under way.
Enlisting in the US Navy in 1943, Bonner
served on the Coast Guard cutter Eastwind. He reached the rank of Acting
Chief Petty Officer before returning to civilian life in 1946. He later
compiled a book, The Mighty E: Eastwind's Un-Official Life Story.
Eastwind was one of seven Wind-class icebreakers built for the US Coast
Guard during WWII. Outlining the cutter's history, Bonner wrote: "She was
the first USCG diesel electric icebreaker built for polar service. She
captured the Nazis at Little Koldewey, Greenland, and the only Nazi ship,
Externstiene, captured in WWII. She was the first ship to travel 600 miles
from the North Pole under her own power. Years later she broke that record
by plowing through heavy ice to 442 miles from the North Pole."
also took part in the Korean conflict, as a crew member of the Alshane AKA
55. "The ship made many landings at Wonsan one night and Inchon the next
night," he recalls. "We loaded up during daylight hours at Pusan, taking 800
men and their armor to the beach every night.
"After we returned to the
States, we had a cruise around the Mediterranean seaports and returned to
Norfolk, Virginia. I was transferred to the US Naval Gun Factory in
Washington DC, to the Instrumentation Class 'A' School. Later I instructed
the class, and was honorably discharged in 1952.
"The Commanding Officer
recommended that I contact Chance Vaught Aircraft since I was going to
Dallas, Texas, I did so, and was hired to work in the research hangar as a
Flight Stabilization ET [Electronics Technician]... I worked there for five
"When the third successful experimental flight of the F9u
all-weather jet fighter was completed, I resigned and went into business for
myself. I retired after selling the business."
Now that Bonner is an
octogenarian with his eyesight restored, let's hope he'll write a few more
of his enchanting tales. Many Internet editors will doubtless steal them as
they have in the past. Here's hoping they don't delete his by-line.
In an email from his home in Belgium, Ward Dossche, international co-ordinator
of Fidonet, writes: "Warren Bonner is the perfect illustration that
'old' is just a word with only a limited connotation in time. He's as young as I
am (54), or even younger. He should be President of the US - whether you like
the current one or you don't."
Story first posted
Copyright © 2005