For now, Clark and I aren't planning to get another dog--maybe we never will. It's not that I don't love dogs, or that I don't care about rescuing a deserving pup out there. We went for two years not taking any trips because Duke was not a good traveler at all. We used to leave him with our daughter, but after they got Bruno the boxer two years ago, Duke and Bruno just did not mix. Bruno and Sunny are fine, and are good buds now--in fact, Sunny annoys the mess out of Bruno, but he is still gentle with her and puts up with her puppy shenanigans.
We are also older than we were when we brought Duke home as a little puppy ten years ago. I miss his love, his companionship, his comical ways, and his PRESENCE. No other dog will ever take his place, and honestly, I'm not inclined to start over with another dog. Since March when he had his back surgery, we spent literally thousands of dollars trying to get him well, up to and including his stay in the vet hospital for his autoimmune disease that ultimately caused his death. We would do it all again in a heartbeat, but we really don't have the financial resources to spend that kind of money on another pet. I'm not seeking sympathy or pity at all, just stating facts as they are for us.
He was one in a million. People always commented on how smart he was, and he really was that intelligent. When I talked to him, I know he understood everything I said. We even resorted to spelling words in front of him so he wouldn't know we were talking about the grandchildren coming to visit (he'd get too excited, expecting them to come in the door any second), or about what we were having for dinner (a true chow hound), or that the mailman was on our street. Yep, he was a doggie genius to us, anyway!
He was never exactly right after his back surgery. Clark and I have looked back on that time from March until July when he was in the vet hospital. He did regain the use of his back legs and could walk and run, but it was wobbly. We were thankful he could do that much. But he never really acted like he felt that good. In fact, a couple of weeks before we found out his platelet count was dangerously low, he was more tired and draggy than he had been. We still have no idea what caused his platelet count to dip so low, and science cannot determine the reasons for autoimmune disease yet. There are speculations, of course, but there are no true answers.
I am still sad at his loss. I am still sad that he had to suffer. And I am still missing him so much. People who have never felt this deeply at the loss of a pet cannot understand. I don't blame them or bear them any ill will, because I didn't understand, either, until it happened to us. You do get better over such a loss, but I know I will never be the same as I was before, when Duke was here with me on a daily basis. My family is wonderful, and I know they love me unconditionally as well. I am not putting Duke above them, but I must admit that no human can replace the special bond one has with such a beloved pet. I never felt such a strong bond with any previous pet I've had. That doesn't make my family less important, but it is on a different plane, a different experience, a different connection. If you have loved and lost a soul pet, you know what I mean. That is the best I can explain what has transpired regarding Duke and me.
I am carrying on my life as before, but without Duke in it. The fact that he was my constant companion for ten years makes it harder than if I had only seen him once a week or once a month somewhere else. He was in our home daily, he made me laugh daily, and he gave me the opportunity to experience how special the friendship of an animal truly is. And for that experience, I will always be grateful. I'm closing the chapter of his life here now, probably never to write of it again on this blog. Your prayers and kindness have meant so much and have helped so much. My faith in God has sustained me through the worst of it and will continue to do so.
But I will always wish he were still here with me.