Thursday, August 10, 2017

MEMENTOS OF DUKE

Duke "resting" with Clark


We've created a dedicated space to Duke on a wall in our home office, placing beloved mementos of him there.

Below is a picture showing three of them: on the left is a 16 x 20 print of Duke, my favorite of him, provided by our daughter Holly. Our daughter Bethany took that picture of him last Christmas when she and hubby Kurt were here with us. Duke was sitting on Clark's lap, perching himself on Clark's knee. Clark was at one end of the couch, Bethany was at the other. 

Can you guess what Duke was staring at so intently in that picture below? Since doxies are notorious chow hounds, you probably had no trouble guessing--yes, Kurt had gone into the kitchen, which is in the direction of Duke's gaze. He was watching and listening in the hope of snagging a morsel of whatever snack was forthcoming. Ah, Duke . . . you never missed a thing regarding food, did you, buddy? I was in my recliner, which was in the other direction, and I vividly recall Bethany taking that picture, not knowing at the time that it would be our memorial picture to Duke. Little memories such as this one cause pain at times, because it still hurts that he's not here. When I'm a bit stronger, this memory will bring a smile.


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On the right is the heart flag a dear friend in North Carolina sent us as soon as she heard of Duke's passing. A dog lover herself, she had lost her beloved doxie many years ago, and she told us she remembered the sharp pain of loss and wanted to do something for us. The lovely flag already means so much to us, because it's message is exactly how Clark and I feel. The flag is suspended by Duke's red leash.

We're planning to add other mementos to commemorate Duke's beautiful life of unconditional love: his last collar that he wore for several years, and the plaque bearing his clay paw print that the veterinary hospital obtained for us right after his passing. The plaque also has his name impressed into the clay as well as a heart. To preserve the plaque, the printed instructions said to bake it at 275
degrees for about 20 minutes. That's another special memento we will cherish always. I loved Duke's paws; when he was younger, the tan in his coat was a rich cinnamon color, a beautiful contrast to his shiny black. 

Why didn't I realize just how beautiful he was then? To answer my own question, I didn't think about being where we are today: without him. Oh, we knew that time would come "someday," but even before his back surgery was necessary in March, he was always so healthy and active. We thought we'd have him at least for a few more years. Part of our pain has come from the sudden way his autoimmune disease came on. We had him less than a week after he got sick and the blood test revealed his low platelet count, something that never improved with the medication he was given to combat that. 

I admit that I haven't yet placed his collar on the wall with his other mementos because I've wanted to keep it close to me when we finally located it after his death. Neither of us could remember where it was, and I sent a text message to our daughter Holly asking her about it, because I felt something akin to panic when we couldn't find it. I desperately wanted to keep that collar, a more personal memento than a photo or anything else of his. She told us where it was, and said she had mentioned that to Clark on the day Duke was buried. It was a sad day, and something he didn't remember until she reminded him. Clark had dug Duke's grave, made a wooden box for him and painted it, and cleared away vines around the area BEFORE we left the house at 11:00 a.m. to drive to Athens for our appointment to have Duke relieved of his suffering. Clark obviously had a lot on his mind that day, he was tired, and of course upset over all that was going on. 

We have other wonderful pictures of Duke that I will eventually add to the wall. I failed to mention in previous posts that Holly had also given us a picture album of Duke's photos, ranging from his cute little puppy stage up to his recent months before we even knew he was sick. There are dozens of his pictures in this album, something we treasure.

Kurt and Bethany are providing the engraved stone for Duke's grave, just as they provided one for Shadow's grave. We will place it on his resting place when it arrives, a very special memento given
with love. Duke was always thrilled when they came, since Kurt would get down on the floor and roughhouse with him, and Bethany would give him lots of attention. They loved Duke, too.

Why am I including all these details in this post, you ask? Because I want to preserve and remember them. I suppose a part of my heart is afraid I'll forget. I've had a few days this week that I haven't cried, but not a day has gone by since July 28 that I haven't been at least close to tears every single day. Normally, I'm not the type to cry; I seldom cry at sad movies or TV shows, and unless something really traumatic happens, I just don't cry. That's not my nature. But losing Duke has opened a floodgate of tears that I can't hold back, but I don't even try to stop them. There's something cleansing about releasing tears of pain, and heaven knows I want to rid myself of this pain in my heart since Duke died.

Today was Clark's first day back in school as a substitute teacher, and I dreaded it, because Duke was always such good company when Clark was gone all day. But our seven-year-old grandson is spending a few days with us, and we've had such fun together. 

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Our grandson today at the local inflatables
place which he loves

People have been so kind. Some friends from church invited us out to dinner recently to show they cared, even giving me a beautiful pink hibiscus plant. We've received a number of sympathy cards, something I don't find odd at all that they are because of our dog's death. Our grief is real, and it hurts.

People I don't know personally have private messaged me on Facebook to let me know they are sorry for our loss, and many of them are pet lovers who understand how we feel.

We'll always miss Duke, but he was such a strong personality, there's no way we will ever forget how much he added to our lives. And for that, we will always be thankful.

Dachshunds . . . you will always love them.


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