Monday, November 3, 2014

In Memory of Duke

One of my favorite dogs in my youth growing up on our farm was a Blue Heeler named Duke. Despite the name, Duke was a female. (My dad loved John Wayne.) She was a protective dog and worked the sheep and cattle like a pro.

One summer day, we heard Duke whimpering. We found her sprawled on the back porch steps, a bullet in her head. My dad shooed us kids away and miraculously managed to save her life.  But…she was never the same after that.

About two years later, my dad and I hauled a load of trash to the waste disposal site. I was happy to have Duke ride in the truck next to my feet. When my dad got out to unload the back of the truck, I reached out to pet her head. She lunged at me, knocked the glasses from my face, and bit my cheek and eyelid. All I could feel was a numb stinging.

I darted a look out the back window at my dad.  He hadn’t noticed.  I couldn’t believe my once loyal friend had attack me. But…I also understood. Her brain wasn’t okay.  I never had been able to play and laugh with her like we had done before she had been shot. I loved her. My heart ached for her. I didn’t want her to get into trouble.  What should I do?  How could I hide this?

I searched my pockets for something to soak up the blood but to no avail. It dripped onto my checkered, red shirt.  I snuck another look at my dad.  He was almost done sweeping out the back.  I pushed the button on the glove compartment and tore through the items, looking for a tissue or a paper towel, anything that would help.  Nothing!  I quickly wiped at the blood on my cheek again and smeared it onto my jeans.

The shock of the wound had given away to pain, and blood began to pour profusely from the cuts.  Dad stuck the broom handle in one of the stake holes in the bed of the truck.  I turned toward my door and wiped blood on the Naugahyde roof of our old 1964 Ford pick-up truck.  I hid my face as Dad stepped up into the truck.

It only took him a few seconds to notice the bloodstains. He reached over and turned my face toward him, a shocked look of disbelief written on his face. An unnatural stillness filled the air.

“Now, Dad. Please don’t be mad at Duke,” I said, my voice small and devoid of emotion.  I quickly swiped at my eye and streaked my jeans again with red.  A weighed-down feeling settled over me.  My face stung, and I pinched my lips together.

I stole a look at Dad who had a pained expression on his face as he stared at Duke.  He reached in his pocket, pulled out a folded paper towel, and handed it to me without a word.  He started the truck, and we headed home in silence, not reacting to any of the activities around us.

I thought I had escaped the situation.  I thought Dad understood.  I’m sure he did, but I was never to see Duke again. When I didn’t see her for a couple of days, I finally asked him where she’d gone.

“Must’ve wandered off,” he said, his chin slightly quivering.

In my heart, and by the pain in his eyes, I knew what had truly happened.

Please support organizations that help abused and abandoned dogs; spay and neuter your pets; and help support legislation that would increase the penalty for animal abuse.

Now is a great time of the year to donate. I give to a smaller organization in Eagle Mountain, Utah that gives everything to their animals--Friends In Need Animal Sanctuary.

Thank you.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense…and Dogs!
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  1. I am truly sorry, I can tell by your writing your heart is still in pain, I am sorry for your loss.. I do know what it is to lose and also been in a situation to something like that.. and thanks so much for being such a supporter against animal cruelty.. God Bless

    1. I don't think we ever get over the loss of a loved one. Thank you for your message and kind words.


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