Before I get to the loss of my old buddy Duke, a little back story on myself and Dalmatians…
When I was young, my parents’ pastime was competing on the dog show circuit with Dalmatians. It was all Dalmatians a lot of the time. They bought ’em, they showed ’em, they bred ’em, they raised the puppies and eventually sold ’em. I fell in love with Dalmatians some 30 years ago. They are beautiful, elegant, intelligent, HIGH STRUNG creatures. Much like myself!
At a young age, I sort of learned that the best place to procure a puppy was through a breeder. Good bloodlines result in perfect puppies with great temperament. It’s common sense!
Well, back in ’96 I possessed much less common sense than I do now. I wanted a Dalmatian (I actually looked at lots of other breeds but always came back to Dals) and I wanted it now! So I didn’t reach out to any breeders and instead checked out a couple pet shops.
Oh yeah, I only wanted a male Dalmatian so his named was predetermined. His name was to be “Dick” because, well, when searching for a male dog you obviously look for the presence of a dick!
I believe it was at a pet shop at Parmatown that we discovered him. He was a 3-month old Dalmatian with a dick… so he was the one! I knew that there would be some backlash from my parents because I bought a puppy from a pet shop… but I didn’t care! We signed the papers and brought him home…
There was some backlash, but not much. Dick was a pretty good looking Dal with great temperament! He had some issues from a show dog standpoint but I never intended to show him, so it didn’t matter.
He was difficult to house train because he spent the first three months of his life peeing & pooping in his cage at the pet shop. We eventually got past that…
My ex wife, Dina, obviously was never a fan of a dog named Dick… especially when she had to explain to people why his name was Dick… So, one day, I goofed and accidentally called him Duke. Dina got all over me to change his name to Duke. She won the ensuing argument and Dick became Duke.
- He was the perfect dog.
- Great with the the kids.
- He was great with other dogs.
- He tolerated the numerous cats we had.
- Protective of the entire family.
I never had him “fixed” because I thought he’d be less of a dog if I had his nuts chopped off! Maybe that’s why he lived so long!
I used to have parties for Tyson fights… And during one of those parties, my buddy and I were both putting beer in a bowl for Duke to drink (neither of us knew what the other was doing, so Duke’s bowl was constantly full)… because Duke liked his beer! He got wasted that night and was hungover with me the next day! I’m surprised he lived to be almost 16!
Duke would put out a lighter with his paw if you lit it in front of him. That was certainly a Dalmatian/firehouse dog thing that was in his blood.
He howled, which is not something that Dals do.
He would run around the house at full speed, like a crazed lunatic, because our parrot said “Run, run run!”
Duke was always a “lap dog,” though he was pushing 50 pounds. He would snuggle with you and then slowly steal your real estate; eventually stretching out comfortably while you were left with very little room.
In his younger years, he would catch popcorn like the best of ’em! As he grew older, and his eyesight gave way, it was hard for us not to laugh as he sat there… all fired up… ready to catch popcorn! Here’s how it went:
POPCORN THROWER: Ready Duke?
DUKE: (staring in the direction he thought the popcorn bowl was in) WOOF! WOOF! Throw that shit!
POPCORN THROWER: READY???
Duke: (still staring but now uncontrollably ready) WOOF! WOOF! Quit messin’ around!
POPCORN THROWER: Throws popcorn up for Duke to catch…
DUKE: (Still staring and uncontrollably ready)… popcorn bounces off his head… The “new” younger Dal, Bernie, gifted with eyesight, retrieves the popcorn.
DUKE: STILL WAITING!!! WOOF! WOOF! THROW THAT SHIT!
Guess you had to be there… but it was rather amusing at the time!
I basically “lost” Duke back in June of ’10 when the divorce started. I certainly couldn’t take both Duke & Bernie with me when I moved out. Dina wasn’t very fond of Bernie and Duke was becoming a bit more fragile, so I moved Bernie in with me. Throughout my divorce and up until Saturday, I only saw Duke sporadically. I’d say “Hi” to him and give him a quick pet when I picked my girls up from their Mom’s.
The past several months he’d lost a considerable amount of weight, and battled some health issues. I saw him this past Saturday. He was super energetic and acting like the young Duke! Something told me to say “Hi” and go play with him for a minute, but I was in a hurry. I didn’t… and instead dropped off the girls and went on my way.
Well, looking back, I think that “something” was telling me to say “Goodbye.” Duke had a pretty bad stroke last night and had to be euthanized this morning. It was the only thing to do. I didn’t go with Dina to have it done because I’m a dumbass sometimes. I wish I had… to say goodbye.
Rest in Peace, Dukie!