Written By: Ben Cosgrove

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.

Summer is the time [wrote LIFE] when Larry Jim Holm and Dunk can be together all day long. Larry is 12 years old and lives on a farm near Oskaloosa, Iowa. Dunk is 18 months old and is part spaniel, part collie. Sometimes there are chores to do but most of their time is for fun. Larry and Dunk know every foot of the 16-acre farm. They keep close tabs on the ripening blackberries, although Dunk really prefers field. mice. Sometimes they hunt gophers or dam the brook in the back lot. Sometimes they catch a turtle so Larry can carve his initials on it.

The best fun is fishing, when Dunk helps dig fat angleworms and goes off with Larry through the meadow, across the pasture (keeping away from the bull) and over the hill to the creek. They always jump into the creek for a swim. Then they go home for a quiet evening, most of it spent on the living room floor. “A guy’s almost an orphan without a dog,” says Larry.

We get the feeling there are plenty of boys and girls everywhere who have a hard time imagining life without a furry friend close at hand and know what Larry means.

Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Tired and dirty from a hard day’s play, Dunk padded along the roadbed while Larry practiced the art of walking on rails.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Dunk learned how to open door with his nose.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Holding on to Dunk, Larry waved at a train engineer.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Mowing the lawn, with Dunk alongside.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

It doesn’t look it, but Dunk enjoyed the water.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Dunk waited while Larry fed the calves.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Turtles can be wonderful discoveries.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

They went to Oskaloosa to see the circus come in.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Larry waited while Dunk ate supper.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

All tired out, they rested against an oat shock.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Fishing was a favorite summer pastime. They rarely caught much and the fish were usually pretty small, but Dunk always showed an interest in a wet, wiggly catch.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

Off for home, Larry and Dunk trudged down the country road with their fish. ‘Jeepers,’ Larry said, ‘I wouldn’t take a hundred dollars for Dunk.'”

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm and Dunk, Iowa, 1945

At the end of the day Larry sprawled out with the funnies and Dunk collapsed on the floor, heaved a sigh and wiggled up close to Larry.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry Jim Holm, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Larry and Dunk, Iowa, 1945.

Myron Davis The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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