25 February 2009

dogs of our lives - the Duke post

Duke? Yes.

Most conversations with Duke go something like this:

Duke: *snore*
person: Hi Duke.
Duke: ...
person: HI, DUKE.
Duke: ...
person: DUKE!!!
Duke: ...
person: *nudges the puppy*
Duke: *jump!*

...Duke is, to the best of our collective knowledge, 13 years old. He was the companion dog for an old fellow who died and whose wife had such Alzheimer's that she had no idea that there was a sheltie in her care. The wife, in turn, released said sheltie and a dalmation to her kids - her son "took care" of the dalmation "the farm way" (read: into the woods with a shotgun) and her daughter took the sheltie home to share a food bowl with a jack russell terrier.

Thanksgiving of 2007 was when a cousin (my landlord, Abbie) inadvertently adopted Duke. I'd been toted along to Cabot, Arkansas for the festivities and the absolutely wonderful food. Somehow upon meeting Duke, I exchanged a sympathetic glance with him over the housing issue (really, who wants to fight a jack russell for the foodbowl?) and the recurring joke of "he'd match the cat!" bounced around for a while. Before leaving Cabot, this dear creature was in the truck.

Duke, with his thin, wispy fuzz. It was only an ~8 hr drive...

Upon arrival in Abilene, Slinky (pictured below) was certain that we had brought home The Epic Monster of Doom and refused to surface from under Abbie's bed for 40 days and 40 nights. Closer to 3 of each, really, but when you have to pull out a protesting cat and carry it across the house to the food bowl and litter box, it seems lengthy. Clearly, she was Not Pleased.

Arch Nemesis Duke, in his wispy-fuzzed glory took a trip to the vet within the week. He had a nail-like growth poking out from under one of his eyelids. Nails were easily an inch and a half too long. Lumpy growths on side and legs. Sight, lacking at best. Hearing... WHAT? (and he sleeps like the dead a bit too literally at times). No jumping, slow pace, thin fur, light weight, you get the idea. Still, a very sweet dog with nothing but waggles for people. It should be noted that he was Catholic and has since started attending the Christian Science Reading Room on occasion with Abbie or myself. It would be fitting for him to attend Sunday or Wednesday services, but we're not sure he'd stay awake through them.

It could certainly be worse, we could have brought home the very-friendly-goat.. but instead, in the course of the last year, Duke has gone from a sad state of neglect to the picture of life (when he's awake, anyway). He supports the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Rangers (if he wasn't a baseball fan before, living with Abbie has converted him), and he's especially fond of UT football. Granted, he confuses most people by sporting the Razorbacks leash on occasion with the UT collar. His fur is thick and healthy, the eye growth thing has fallen off along with some of the lumps, he trots and chases squirrels and even finds time to decorate the house with uneaten milk bones.

I feel quite fortunate to have shared the last year and a smidge with Duke, and my entire Abilene stay with Slinky... alas, the cockatiel that captured my heart, Chiq, is no longer with us. This family (my landlord, her husband, the cat, the dog, the bird, the renter - me) is a peculiar one. We are all strays of sorts, each of their children having quite nearly fledged, aside from the son that just returned home after serving 7 years in the Air Force. It's a family that I could not have asked for, and has made life in Abilene far more survivable than it would have been otherwise.

Ideally this post would end with the photogenic shot of Duke doing something dignified, like napping in the busiest spot in the house, or getting stepped on by someone getting out of bed, but I've got no such evidence to post. Instead, here's a shot of the Waco pup, Anakin. In all of his outweighing-Heidi glory.

No comments:

Post a Comment