Ever since I started Brutus' blog, I have tried to keep our posts fun & entertaining. Today's will be a little change of pace. It's a post whose time I knew would come, as much as I wanted to deny it. This blog is about Brutus, but for today he has humbly stepped aside to honor his packmate.
Many of you have read of Duncan, my (almost) 17-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. He came into my life from very humble beginnings on a local farm, a belated 21st birthday present from my parents. Duncan was a sweet little brown & white ball of fur that positively melted the heart of my formerly non-dog-person mother with one well-placed lick on the nose.
Duncan at 3 months old.
Much younger versions of both Duncan & myself!!
Duncan grew up to be a typical terrier - energetic, tenacious & feisty. He managed to complete a basic obedience class, but was certainly never the star of the group - he had more important things on his mind! He was a great hunter, ridding our fenced-in back yard of moles & other assorted small rodents. He loved to chase any kind of ball, and could hang tirelessly by his teeth from a tennis ball while being swung through the air. Duncan had endless energy and never tired on a walk, despite the fact that I occasionally did them using rollerblades long before Caesar Milan came onto the scene!!
Duncan, 3 years old, a JR terrier in his prime.
By the time I was ready to move out several years later, Duncan and my mom had become inseparable (so much for "my" dog LOL). Then, with the unexpected death of my mother a few years later, Duncan once again came to live with me 5 years ago. He had to make some significant adaptations, most notably living with other dogs after having been an "only child" for all of his life. He surprised us on many occasions, accepting his new circumstances much more readily than we had anticipated - guess you can teach an old dog new tricks!!
He might be "high maintenance" in some ways, but Duncan has always been a resilient little guy - never once sick, and even survived getting kicked in the head by a horse!! At nearly 17, he could be feisty as ever, gladly standing up to put Brutus in line any time he saw the need (and Brutus usually had it coming). Even as recently as the last few weeks, despite hot & humid temperatures, Duncan still acted like a little puppy, bouncing & running around in our back yard. He was an avid sun-bather, loved to stretch out to enjoy some rays no matter how hot it might be!!
Soaking up rays earlier this summer
Still, I couldn't ignore the fact that Duncan had come to sleep nearly 22 hours a day, and his hearing was all but gone. His once rich brown mask & ears had faded nearly to the same white as the rest of his coat. Even with those inevitable signs of aging, it was only in the last few weeks that I really accepted the fact that he wouldn't live forever. Always a proud & stubborn dog, he would rather struggle than accept assistance - but that had begun to change. Duncan started to allow me to help him off the bed, or up & down the deck stairs. With the arrival of this newfound humility, I could sense that Duncan's life would soon draw to a close. I worried that I might balk at making an important decision for him when the time came...
I arrived home from work on Friday to find Duncan's condition had drastically deteriorated during the day - amongst other things, he could no longer stand on his own. The time had undoubtedly come. I did not hesitate a moment to make the call to our vet. During the 45-minute drive to her office, I had a wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to my little buddy as I comforted him, nestled in my lap. Despite the fact that it was Friday after 5PM - not to mention that she was technically on vacation - our wonderful vet Dr. Hunt was there waiting at the door of her office as I arrived carrying Duncan. Within a few minutes, the arrangements were made, and we were ready. In his final moments, Duncan relaxed in my arms. It took very little of the potent anesthetic - he did not fight it. Within a few seconds he was at peace. With courage and dignity, my beloved terrier crossed the rainbow bridge.
I am honored to have shared 17 years of my life with Duncan, and will miss him deeply. He was my first real canine companion. He was there to witness so many milestones in my life - graduations, first dates, new jobs, and was even in some of my wedding photos. It might be years before I stop finding Duncan's little white, prickly hairs woven into the fabric of my clothes, but he will forever be woven into the fabric of my life.
Godspeed, my sweet Duncan, we will always love you.
A recent photo of Duncan, nestled in what was always his favorite spot.