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Doggone Good Dog

Duke, our Labrador retriever,
has lived a soap opera life. When he was but a young pup he
followed his mom and dad across the highway and, sadly, he was the
only one who returned alive. Then a short time later he
disappeared. I assumed he was lost and posted reward signs, put an
ad on the local radio station, and talked to all the neighbors. No
one had seen him.

An anonymous phone call
informed me that Duke had been dognapped. They told me where they
had seen a dog that fit his description. My sister-in-law and I
waited until nightfall, donned our trench coats and sunglasses,
and drove to the appropriate address. I opened the van door and
yelled, "Duke!" then stepped aside as he leaped into her
van. We squealed tires out of the driveway and Duke tried his best
to lick me to death on the way home.

You would think he’d learn,
but nooooo. It wasn’t long until he went wandering again but this
time when he returned he had been shot. Thankfully he recovered
but we never did learn where he’d been or why someone had shot

The vet recommended that we
have Duke neutered, as "sometimes that keeps them home,"
he said. So Duke had surgery, recovered, gained weight, and now
has a permanent sleeping place next to our back door. He sleeps so
soundly that when the alarm company came to install a burglar
alarm they had to step over Duke to get in the door.

Once the UPS man delivered a
package during a storm and when he got about a mile down the road
he discovered Duke behind some packages. Last week my aunt stopped
by for a visit and just as she got out of her brand new Lexus, Rip
Van Dog Winkle woke up, raced past us, jumped into her SUV, and
managed to get wedged in between her steering wheel and the
driver’s seat. I had to go get my husband to pull him out.

There are people who love
animals and then there are people that just tolerate them. My
cousin was thoroughly disgusted when Duke drooled on her. I just
laughed and said, "love me, love my dog." She must still
love me because she’s coming back from Florida to visit again this

Duke listens to me and doesn’t
talk back. He always thanks me for any little crumb of attention I
give him. When I go walking, he matches me step for step, and
refuses to leave my side.

Man’s best friend for sure, but definitely a woman’s

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