Sherry A. Phillips

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Grieving The Loss of A Pet

Duke

I bet “Grieving The Loss of a Pet” is not exactly the topic you expect to see on my blog. But hey … it’s my blog and I’ll grieve if I want to!

I am an animal lover. My house will never be spotless. That is the price I am willing to pay to have children and animals in my life.

There was a time not so long ago, our family had a horse, a fish, 2 hamsters, 2 birds, a cat and 3 dogs all at the same time.

Today’s blog is about our collie, Duke.

A little more than 10 years ago, my youngest son was born. Not long after that (a few months), my husband started really lobbying for us to get a German Shepherd. We already had a Labrador Retriever named Genie. With 3 kids, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of getting another dog to look after, especially a German Shepherd with an infant in the house.

But he convinced me, so we put a deposit down on a future litter and would get the puppy in the fall.

Meanwhile, a few months passed and I started obsessing over collies. Especially Blue Merle Collies. I thought they were some of the most beautiful dogs in the world.

As fate would have it, I was looking at a local breeder’s website and she posted a photo of a 4 month old Blue Merle collie puppy for sale. He was the grandson of her prized stud collie and was supposed to be a show dog; however, he had an eye anomaly that would prevent him from being bred and shown.

I showed the photo to my husband when he got home that evening. He was unimpressed. I kept telling him, “This dog will be gorgeous when he’s grown.”

I kept going back to the site and kept talking about the dog. I kept telling my husband how I wanted a collie my whole life and I really, really, really wanted this puppy. (Law of Attraction anyone?)

After several days of hearing me talk about this dog, my husband said, “If I have a good week at work, I will get you that collie.”

He did and about a week later, that puppy was flown from his home in New York to our house. We named him Duke.

He was not used to a rambunctious house with 3 children. He actually started shaking in the corner that first night from all of the activity. But he rallied very quickly.

About a week later, the German Shepherd puppy arrived at our home. She made herself right at home from the get-go and loved the kids.

All three of our dogs were part of the family. If we were inside, the dogs were inside. If we were outside, the dogs were outside.

Once, I put Duke outside with the children to “babysit” while I was making dinner. All of a sudden, I heard him barking his head off. I went to the living room and looked out the window to see that Duke had herded up all three kids and was standing in front of them, blocking them with his body. Apparently the meter reader had pulled into the driveway and Duke made sure the kids were protected from this “menacing” stranger.

Duke slept in the boys’ room every night, keeping watch over the youngest members of his “pack.”

And, in a twist of irony, Duke became my husband’s dog and the German Shepherd, Reagan, bonded with me.

Genie, our lab, reached the age of 13 before we realized it was her time. She just collapsed one day at the top of the stairs. Duke was there beside her, licking her face.

We all loved Duke and he loved each and every member of our family. Last fall, we started noticing he was having trouble climbing the stairs and did what we could to help him.

Over time, his condition worsened and finally, last week, Duke just couldn’t do anymore. He could not longer stand. He would not eat. We waited for 2 days, hoping he would somehow miraculously get better. However, he was 10 years old, suffering with debilitating arthritis and recovery was not in the cards.

We made the decision to relieve him of his pain. There was a terrible thunderstorm raging when my husband carried Duke in his arms to our vehicle for his final ride. It was as though heaven was grieving along with us.

Duke was a noble dog. He was a good dog. He was a faithful dog.

And he was loved.

I will close this post with the Rainbow Bridge poem. I like to think that Genie greeted Duke there last week and both are waiting for us in heaven.

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