A Dogs Life


Do you have friends?  Who is your best friend?  Who is the one who accepts you for who you are in whatever state, stance or mood you are in? 

Friendship is an exceptional relationship.  Friendship can refer to all depths of relationship.  Friendship includes barely meeting someone to being intimately in love—a passerby to an acquaintance or a bestie to a spouse.

What about things not human, can they be your friend?  I’ve heard people talking about and acting like animals are people.  Pets can run the household, design a daily schedule and train the people to fit the pet. 

Some of our pets had people names:  Franklin, Samantha, Freda, Liza, Homer, Christie, Lily and I can’t forget Jackson.  Movies have portrayed owners as looking like their pets.  Humans can place meaning on nearly anything and everything in this world.  My family loves dogs, so is it accurate to consider us—dog people?  The following is about a dog who provided more of a learning experience than I ever could have imagined.  Love in the shape of a dog, this dog is a gem.

His name is Duke.  He is my daughter’s first dog.  On a late afternoon, I was invited by my daughter to visit the animals at the humane society.  My daughter picked Duke then changed her mind and left the humane society without him.  Upon the arrival at home, she mentioned her Duke desire and we turned back to retrieve him.  To watch him and my daughter interact is like watching two who were perfectly atched to each other. Immeasurable love!  She knew him and they knew love. 

Though sweet, Duke could not keep himself from the amount of energy he expels.  He runs like the wind and returns to my daughter’s soft whistle.  Duke’s mood switched instantly if awaken from slumber.  His reactive snap quickly forewarned anyone who was not attentive to his posture.

Duke lived in a world all his own.  Duke’s strange behaviors can be easily explained by knowing a tiny bit of his past.  That is all we ever knew.  Duke was traumatized prior their mutual adoption.  He was punished in such an unknown way that his behavioral reactions display the basics of survival—flight, fight or freeze.

Duke didn’t really like other dogs.  He did not know how to actually play with other dogs, but he tolerated them just being around him.  When placed in a dog run with my dog, as long as each dog faced forward everyone was fine.  When exiting the run, the task at hand insured excitement as neither dog cared who jumped on who.

At first glance, Duke appeared cute, yet to watch his behavior, anyone could realize how it probably developed… cute is not a good description.  Have you ever witnessed hurt, oddity, crazy or goofball?  Dogs cannot be trained out of their traumatization.  He was incessant.  Duke chased shadows.  When Duke became riled up, he attacked shadows by pouncing like a large cat in the jungle, barking and staring as if he needed to not blink an eye and let the shadow out of his sight.  In the garden and in the field, Duke dug holes knee-deep and sought to attack enemies unseen by us.  He chased and bit his tail then rested and continued again.  He killed many varmints along with hens from our chicken coop; loved chasing birds and treeing squirrels. 

Duke was a real dog.  Whenever Duke would get hot he would walk into the pool or pond chest high or jump into a cow’s trough or put his paws into water buckets and just splash.  Duke loved car rides. He was a stubborn fellow about getting out of the car when the ride was over.  Sometimes it was just easier to drive a bit–even up and down the driveway because then Duke would think he took a ride and he would get out of the car. 

Duke was not particularly small in size, but loved to lay by my daughter’s side—a true companion.  Duke was also a dog of many lives.  At midlife his curiosity nearly killed him when he ate mouse poison. My daughter was Duke’s first responder.  She took him to urgent care then to a specialized vet.  Miraculously Duke survived and his quirkiness continued.    

All which lives eventually dies.  Duke lived into his fourteenth year including a month or so of apparent health decline.  He appeared to make a few comebacks until following a walk and left alone, he curled into his bed, fell asleep and didn’t wake up.

The loss of a pet is a loss of relationship—a friendship of an unconditional sort.  There is grief attached to this type of loss, but many times the grief is one of easy avoidance or quick release.  Replacements can fill the void in our daily routine, but memories still abide unique and precious as they bring us back to love… a different type of love… a humane love… one unlike any other kind of love.

“Many a gem lies hidden in darkness and oblivion.”  Kate Quinn

“Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” Psalm 25:20