For the first time in 20 years, we are now dog-less. Our beloved dog, Duke, died the day after Thanksgiving. He had a very fast moving cancer; he was only sick for 3 weeks and died only 1 week after we got his diagnosis. This picture was taken 3 days after his diagnosis, 4 days before he passed away – doesn’t look so sick does he?! We were shocked and surprised since he was only 12 years old. I asked the vet how we could possibly lose 2 pets in one month?! Munchkin just died in October. We miss him very much, more than we thought we would. He joined our family at Thanksgiving time in 2001. He was a well traveled dog. Born in California, he flew with his owner, a missionary in northern Haiti, to Haiti and lived there until the owner had to leave and gave him to us. To get to us, he traveled on a tiny 4 seater plane from far outback in northern Haiti to Port-au-Prince where Dan met him. He and Duke then flew from Port to Cayes in a little bit bigger 17 seater plane. He arrived with a smile a mile wide. After 5 years with us there in Cayes, he flew with us in a DC-3 to the US. Here are a couple of memories of that day that I posted to Facebook:
A memory of Duke: The day we moved from Haiti, we flew directly from Cayes to Ft. Pierce, FL then drove with our 3 cats, Duke & all our stuff across the state to our home in Lehigh Acres. Devon was already in the US & met us in Ft. Pierce. He took Duke out of his crate & sat him in the passenger seat of his pickup. They drove 3 1/2 hrs. to the house that way. Duke thought he was king of the world; his smile was so wide it seemed to take over his face. When we stopped at McDonalds for a quick bite to eat, Devon went through the drive thru & ordered Duke his own hamburger.
Another memory of Duke that makes us laugh: The first night after flying all the way from Haiti and arriving in our new home (when we 1st moved here 5 1/2 yrs. ago), we put Duke outside on the lanai (screened in back porch) to sleep for the night. Dawn & I said good night to him and then turned & walked into the house, shutting the sliding glass door behind us. We turned around just in time to see that he was trotting along behind us with the intention of following us into the house. Remember, this dog had just flown from Haiti that day where he'd been his whole life. He'd never seen or experienced a glass door before. He did a "face plant" smack into the door at full trot. He stumbled back & the look on his very expressive face was priceless. He was completely surprised, perplexed, shocked, stunned & when he saw Dawn & I laughing uproariously at him, he was embarrassed. It took him a while to adjust to seeing us but not being able to get to us. After that we saw him occasionally stop & check to make sure the door was open before he proceeded to enter the house.
After being able and enjoying roaming free all over the mission center, he had difficulty being tied to a cable or fenced in. He escaped a number of times from the cable which resulted in many frantic searches. After we got the fence, he (and we did too) learned that the bottom of the fence is only just sitting on the ground, it is not anchored except at the poles. So he dug under. Several times. Again resulting in many frantic searches. We live 1 block from the busiest east-west road in our country, 6 lanes wide and across that road is a very busy Wal-Mart. The first time he disappeared after dark, we searched for over an hour and finally gave up for the evening. An hour later there was a knock at the door. A uniformed officer asked us if we’d lost a dog. When we replied yes, (nervously because we’d only been there 6 months and hadn’t yet bought his dog license!) she said that she thought she may have him in her van. And there was Duke with his mile wide smile from his wonderful adventure. She said that he’d been caught running up and down the grocery aisles at Wal-Mart. Thank the Lord she was happy to return him without a fine. That was not his first visit to Wal-Mart; he returned 2 or 3 more times. He was so friendly and nice that inevitably someone would pet him, hang onto him and call us from the parking lot. We’d go over and retrieve him and he’d have that mile wide smile on his face. We spent a ton of money trying to keep him in that yard!
He especially loved it when Devon and Dawn came home. He was all over them in an instant when they walked in the door. Being a lab/most likely pit bull mix, he had the friendly, faithful, people loving qualities of both breeds. His favorite place was sitting on your feet (if he could get to them) or sleeping at one of our bedsides. When Devon spent the night at the house, he would let Duke sleep with him on the bed. Believe it or not, he’d grab a corner of the comforter and suck on it. We had to warn other overnight guests to keep their door shut during the night or else Duke would join them. [This picture with Devon was taken a few months after we arrived in 2006. The picture below was taken by our house sitter one time when she stayed at the house. Duke climbed into the bed with her several times.]
In some ways he was like a typical cartoon dog…he dug all kinds of places in the yard to have a nice cool place to lay. If we gave him a chew toy or a bone, he’d go straight away and bury it. Every now and then we’d uncover a toy and play with him with it, but as soon as we turned our back, it was gone, back to the bowels of the earth never to be seen again! We learned to give him bones on the lanai. There he’d usually eat or gnaw on it. We’ve been given wild boar bones for Duke once a year for 3 years, so we froze them and would give him one every few days. He would literally dance in excitement when he saw one of those bones coming out of the freezer. We did love him and he loved us. Amazing how God has enabled some animals to be so responsive, loving, friendly and faithful to us humans. Our lives are enriched because of them.