Missing Duncan: Remembering the World’s Best Dog
We lost our sweet dog Duncan last week. Our hearts are broken.
How long will it take walk into the house and not expect him to come bounding in to greet us, tail wagging? When will I be able to look at a photo of him without tearing up?
Life with Duncan was joyful, and now my husband and I are trying to reconfigure life without him. We have to get used to the screaming stillness. It is eerily, disturbingly quiet.
My dog never left my side.
When we adopted Duncan 10 years ago, his foster mother laughingly told me that he followed her everywhere, even the bathroom. We soon discovered what she meant. If we moved from one room to another, there he was with us.
Even the bathroom.
He was uncommonly acquiescent. Undemanding. He came to us with no baggage, despite the neglect he had suffered as a puppy. The first night, my husband closed our bedroom door with Duncan on the outside, and in the morning there he was, waiting patiently, overjoyed to see us.
He rarely barked and never complained.
All he wanted was to be with us – my husband, my three children and me. He loved his grandparents and was attached to them, too.
He was more of a people dog than a dog dog. He would jump up on a dining room chair to sit with us for holiday meals, figuring he was expected to be at the table.
He slept in our bed unless one of the kids were home. When he heard them come in late at night with their friends, he excused himself to join their party.
Duncan and I had a deep appreciation for each other. We shared jokes. We enjoyed the same things, the walks, the weekends at the beach, cuddling. When I looked at him he wagged his tail. When he looked at me I smiled.
When he took naps, I swear he kept one eye open watching me all the time.
He loved sitting on the deck at the beach. We never had to worry about him running away. He had no interest in being anywhere we weren’t.
One of the very best things about working from home was being able to take him on long walks. The funny thing was, he always chose the route. He was adamant about that. When we got to a corner he would stop, look each way, and then choose the direction. If we tried to dissuade him, he would politely disagree and stand his ground.
We always said that he walked us. Four walks a day, four different routes. That was how he rolled.
Long walks, up hills and down, across busy streets, on back roads. We covered lots of territory, and I loved observing the changes in nature each season from the road. When I just had to take a photo of a perfect flower or crimson leaves or the sun filtering through the trees, I asked him to wait a minute. He would stop in his tracks to let me take the photo.
As he grew sicker over the past weeks, his walks grew shorter and shorter. Two days before he died, though, he insisted on taking one of the long routes despite his pain. Really? I asked him. Don’t you want to go back? He glanced at me and then looked straight ahead, his way of saying, I’m OK. When we had gone too far to turn around, he looked up at me, panting, his eyes conveying, You were right.
I squatted down next to him and there we sat for a few minutes. “We’ll go real slow,” I promised him. And we eventually made it home.
Some bereaved pet parents find comfort in imagining their pet running over the Rainbow Bridge. Personally, I can’t bear to think of the Rainbow Bridge. I picture Duncan at the top, pausing in confusion, looking back, wondering where we are.
Because that’s where he wants to be.
Rest in peace, sweet Dunkie. You will live on in our hearts forever.