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In the late summer of 1945, as the Second World War was finally coming to a close, LIFE magazine published a series of pictures by photographer Myron Davis—including the first one in this gallery, which has since become a classic—chronicling the fast friendship between a 12-year-old Iowan named Larry and his 18-month-old dog, Dunk.
Somehow we get the feeling that there are countless men, women, boys and girls everywhere—people who have a hard time imagining life without a furry friend close at hand—who know exactly what Larry’s talking about.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.