Monday, August 24, 2009

A Tribute to an Old Friend

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.


Cocorue said...

oh aunt Michelle,mumsy is crying on my small shoulders and i'm allowing her to do that.....she's too sad to type and i don't blame her

sleep tight Duncan and i know i will not be lonely when it's my time to cross........console your mumster in your own way as she will feel you around her and help her remember all the good times...

extra chikisses and do take care aunt Michelle

Ziggy Stardust said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful tribute to Duncan, I know that must have been very hard for you. I have had to let go of other pets and I know how hard it is, but sometimes you do have to do what is best for the quality of life for them. I am sorry, but I know that Duncan is running free and happy across the rainbow bridge. Anne

Brutus, I am sorry about Duncan, we will think very good thoughts for you and your family to get through this sad time.

licks and sniffs, Sasha

Jan Mader said...

What a lovely tribute to Duncan. I am writing through my tears of sadness and joy. It's never easy to lose a know I know...yet, when that dog has had a long and wonderful life there's joy in the memories.

Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment on my blog during your difficult time.....Jan

Oakley and Swisher said...

Such a touching tribute to a fallen pal. We can tell from reading this that Duncan had a wonderful, loved filled life. We are sorry for your loss.

--Oak and Swish

bea's blog said...

Tailwags from Europe!
What a wonderful and touching tribute.
It is hard to let go after so many years of togetherness...obviously a glad and wonderful doglife...we are so sorry for your loss.
Thinking of you,
Gizmo and mum

Dexter said...

What a wonderful little guy. That was a great tribute to him. Those terriers seem to have batteries that last a long time.

You were there for him and helped him when he was too tired to go on. That is so hard.

Mango Momma

Stacy Walker said...

We are so sorry to hear this. That was a beautiful post! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

xxoo Brutus and the fam

Rocky Creek Scotties and Rocky Creek Ramblings said...

What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful friend. You unselfishly made the right decision. Our thought and prayers will be with you as you mourn. Run free sweet Duncan. We'll see you at the Rainbow Bridge someday.

Lilly, Piper, Carrleigh and Java

Brutus, Ellie, Pippa and Otto said...

God Bless Duncan! What a beautiful tribute. It is always a hard decision to let a loved one go. Duncan will live on in your heart and memories.

Pugs & Kisses,

Cindy, Yoda and Brutus

Mack said...

What a great tribute to such a handsome guy!

We are so sorry for your loss.


Michelle said...

Your tribute brought tears to my eyes. You made Duncan come to life for me in your words. Wishing you comfort and peace as you mourn his passing. I had to make a similar trip to the vet last year to say goodbye to my 10 yr old Burmese cat. It's heartbreaking. I'll hug my new little frenchie a little tighter today!

pam said...

Goodbye darling Duncan.

Pug(s) and Bugg said...

When I started reading this entry I hoped that that was not going to be the outcome. How sad that he has left but how joyous that he had a wonderful life. We are thinking of you all.

Kelly, Sophie, Dixie, and Harley

The Adventures of the LLB Gang said...

Thank you so much for sharing Duncan's life with us. What a wonderful tribute to him.

I am sure he is chasing squirrels and chipmunks on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Hugs and Licks,
Beth and Dory

Sam said...

What a sweet tribute to an old friend. Thank you for sharing his beautiful life story with us. I'm very sorry for your loss. It sounds like he lived a long life with lots of love, and I'm sure that will help you cope better. We'll be thinking of you!

SEDONA said...

So so sorry to hear about Duncan's passing...what a wonderful long & full life he had with you.
Thank you for sharing his life so eloquently with us all.
Sedona's Human

Two French Bulldogs said...

Brutus, friend,
We are so sad. I know he is having lots of fun in doggy heaven.
Benny & Lily

Woodrow, Luna, MJ Campanella said...

What an incredible tribute - it amazes me all the time how much these guys enrich our lives - we all wish you the best during this incredible hard time - and we have a candle lit for his safe passage

Woodrow - Sweetie - MJ

Mia said...

Poor Duncan. =( We will keep your family in our thoughts and prayers. We are glad that he is in a happy and pain free place now. You gave him a wonderful life with lots of love. We're sending lots of pug love and kisses to you

Lilo & Mom

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With Khattledog said...

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful to a very special khanine pal!

We always say THAT is the biggest way to show them how much we do love them: letting them go when the time has come...

I'm sure he's bouncing around now!

Khyra and Phyll

Astrid Keel said...

What a beautiful and touching tribute to Duncan. Mommy was in tears reading it.

Many hugs to you and your family.

Cinnamon and Mint said...

I read your beautiful tribute to Duncan with tears in my eyes. Duncan had a great life with you and your family. May his soul rest in peace!

Bijou said...

What a lovely tribute to your dear little furiend, Duncan. Seventeen years is a long life for us doggies but we know it seems way to short for you hoomans. RIP Duncan.

Bijou and Banjo

Lorenza said...

I am so sorry to know about Duncan.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful tribute to him.
I know it was not an easy decision but you did what was best for him.
Take care

ScrapsofMe said...

A big ole virtual huggie long distance from all of us. What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I think my favorite photo is the one where Duncan was showing Brutus how to get into the little pool. A life well lived, loved by friends and family, none of us could ask for anything better.

Pam...Bonnie n Puffers support staff

Mollie Jo and Bobo said...

First I would like to say that you made a wonderful tribute to your special terrier Duncan! So sorry to hear of your loss and our hearts go out to you and your pack.

& Mollie and Bobo

The Oceanside Animals said...

Sorry to hear about Duncan. He looks like a sweetie sleeping there in the sun. I'm glad you got those final minutes with him and were with him when he passed.

Lucy-Fur, as typed by Dr. Liz said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Duncan. It sounds like he had a wonderful life, and I think the photo tribute is fantastic. Having two ancient kids (an 18 year old miniature poodle, and a 19 year old Maine Coon cat), I truly feel for you. I'm so glad that you were able to be with him to say goodbye. We'll light a candle for him to help him on his way.

*kissey face*
-Fiona and Family

ocmist said...

Oh, dear... ANOTHER friend waving his tail "See you later..." as he passes out of sight on the Rainbow Bridge. There are so many beloved furfriends taking the bridge lately, and so many saddened hearts left behind.

Your pictures and words painted a lovely picture of the long and loved life of a sweet little boy. My heart goes out to you. I've made that trip too many times over my life and hope I don't have to go again soon. We are struggling to keep OC's quality of life good enough now...

Better the memories of their love than no love at all... OC's Mom

Molly the Airedale said...

Mom has tears rolling down her cheeks,
What a handsome boy Duncan was and what wonderful memories you have of him!

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

Oskar said...

My mom person is crying very much.

Thank you for sharing the wonderful Duncan with us. My mom person says she will pray for your heart to heal.


Oskar & his mom person

Martha said...

So sorry to read about Duncan. What a lovely tribute your post was.
We dogs ask only for love and a happy life and you saw that Duncan had that.
Duncan died as he lived - surrounded by love.
We will see you one day Duncan at Rainbow Bridge.
Run free sweet Duncan.
Martha & Bailey xxxx

Unknown said...

You are such an incredible person, and it is so uplifting to know someone as wonderful as you had someone as great as Duncan. I printed out a picture of Duncan to show Walter and he licked it.

I do believe we will all be reunited with our pets one day. there simply cannot be a heaven without them.

Big hugs and pug kisses...

Achieve1dream said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Duncan had a wonderful life and home. What more could a dog ask for?

I hope when it comes my time to make that decision for my first dog (Storm) that I'm as strong and decisive as you were. It's a decision I see made by other people (work in a vet's office), but one I've never had to make myself. I admire you for making the right decision.