Thursday, September 22, 2011


     The third chapter of Ecclesiastics is well-known for its recitation of "seasons" - "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven........"  In fact, when Reverend John Peter Muhlenberg preached from the pulpit of the Woodstock, VA Lutheran Church, just before revealing that he was a colonel in the Virginia military, he used this chapter.
     Verse 2 says, "a time to be born and a time to die", and verse 4, "a time to weep............a time to mourn........".  As such, it is now a time to weep and mourn in our household.  The older I get, the more often these verses are thought of, and not just for our human friends.  And regardless of whether the friends are human or four-legged, it still hurts.
     When Roy and I first started dating, part of his household included not only the old cat, Pete, that we had to put down earlier in the year, but a big lummox of a dog, half Great Pyrenees and a quarter each yellow lab and German shepherd.   Even more than Pete, Duke, short for Marmaduke, totally accepted me and was my shadow so much of the time.  And that big of a shadow (about 90# worth) was sometimes a challenge, to say the least.
     Duke was not Roy's dog - he had been a gift to our son from his then fiance some 15 years ago, so had been a part of our grandson's life from the get-go.  In fact, Robbie learned how to walk hanging on to Duke and used to ride him.
      We never worried about anybody trying anything because his sheer size was intimidating, to say the least.  I still have to laugh about an incident four years ago, before we got either one of the little dogs.  At that time, the gate on the south side of the front yard did not have a latch and therefore, swung back and forth easily - which he quickly discovered.  However, the only time he would get out was at night and he would go make his rounds, then come back home and stay here.  That particular summer, there were several residential break-ins on the mesa where we live, so we were a little leery anyhow.  One night, I didn't get to bed until after midnight and Duke was sleeping outside in the yard under the tree.  I had barely gotten to sleep when I heard Duke just literally come unglued, so I knew something was up.  About that time, I heard, "Oh, sh*t!" and steps, very rapid steps, running down the road to the south and the dog right behind, barking!  I don't know how far Duke chased the person, but we didn't have any more problems!
     We have known since last winter that our time with Duke was limited and considering he was going on 15 years old, rather unusual for as big a dog as he was, knew that the time would come when he would make his last trip to the vet.  That came this morning.  I suspected he had congestive heart failure, and his back was fragile enough because of the vertebrae fusing that the vet told us a couple of years ago he would treat Duke like fine china from then on.  About three o'clock this morning, he was outside and I heard him give a couple of yelps and when I checked on him, he was having problems even moving.  It took him at least five minutes to move maybe 20 feet.  He did finally make it in the house, but wouldn't take any medicine cloaked in cheese, so.........  When Roy took him up, the vet said he would have died sometime today anyhow, as his lungs were at least half-full and confirmed that he had congestive heart failure.  So, as hard as it was, it was very much the right decision that he didn't have to suffer any longer. 
     So, farewell, big, sweet lummox.  You will be so sorely missed.