Saying Goodbye to a Southern Man’s Best Friend

On November 01, 1999, Kerry and I drove to Trimble, MO to check out your litter.

We picked you out of the litter because you were off in the corner alone and you had a unique coat. The breeders quickly identified you by your given name, No-No Bad Dog. We had it legally changed to Sir Duke Ellington, Duke for short.

Your head and paws were not proportionate to your body. You were actually somewhat caricaturish until you finally grew into them. They have always been the same size. Your poor Mom.

August 27, 1999 - June 11, 2011

Your Mom was chocolate and your Dad was yellow (a mixed family just like us).  Somehow you turned out to be a redhead with blonde highlights just like your adopted Mom.

You ate eight-feet-by-three-feet of drywall in the garage of our first duplex.  I know you tried to hide it, but when I walked in on you looking like Al Pacino in Scarface, there was no denying.

I wasn’t cool with you licking plates as we loaded the dishwasher but Kerry was.  No matter what you think, I was not responsible for you getting your collar hooked on the basket, pulling it completely out of the dishwasher, out of the kitchen and down the stairway – all while fully loaded with pans, plates and flatware. You never got near the dishwasher again.

You never begged.

You failed Obedience 101 … twice. And then you went off to bootcamp at the trainer’s home for two weeks. He returned you to us and said he’d never met such a hard-headed dog. You never received your certificate.

You knew I wasn’t much of a dog person, but you never held it against me.

Only my dog would have allergies worse than me.  Remember the sneezing fits? Man, those were rough. More Benadryl please.

Creature of habit – you liked to go to bed at about 9:17 each night, but always waited until the commercial was over and the show started back up. You would stand there patiently at the foot of my recliner, looking at me with those eyes. If I ignored you – which I often did – you would politely give me that little snort.

You had a few freckles.

Because of your early run in with the dishwasher, you never did trust major appliances. The dryer annoyed you the most. It made you nervous and anxious when it was running. It was a good time for you to lounge in the back yard – not so good when it was raining or cold out.

You loved microwave popcorn and always had to have some. It was the only human food you ate regularly. Well, except for whatever Benjamin might drop. Still, you never begged, just patiently expected.

You found no amusement in my photography hobby. You avoided me when I had a camera in my hands.

You hated getting your feet wet and were pretty sensitive overall about your paws.  I’m sorry I really didn’t know what I was doing that first time I trimmed your nails.

You did a great job adapting to the new human we brought home a little over six years ago.

Like me, you tolerated the cat. Yeah, he freaked me out, too. It was funny when he would hide and jump you as you walked by. It wasn’t funny when he would do that to me in the middle of the night, when I needed a drink of water.

You didn’t like other men. Me either.

If one of Kerry’s friends was at the house you would actually kick up grass rather then pee like a girl, like you usually did.

You were always good with Taylor.  I hope you know she did forgive you for eating her Barbie.

You were the best swimmer I’d ever seen. I think you’d go all day if I let you, but Kerry wouldn’t let us go for too long.

You were never overweight. Always lean and muscular. I think it was because you knew how to eat. We would fill your bowl to the top, and you would eat just enough, making it last all day.

You loved bubbles and would foam at the mouth because of all the ones you would catch. Strange, chasing bubbles was the only time you could jump. You didn’t understand the concept otherwise.

You used to like sleeping on the floor by my bed, but as you grew older, you wanted your privacy. You liked to be closed in your room.

You preferred the floor. There was a brief period where you thought you’d try out the sofa, but that was short-lived.

You always greeted me when I got home, asking me how my day was. Mine varied; yours was always the same.

In retrospect, the holes you dug in the back yard really didn’t matter.

For a pup that had such a hard time in school, you turned out to be a mighty fine dog. You proved the breeders wrong.  You made me a dog person.

I love you, Duke, and I’m glad you were a part of our lives.

10 Responses to “Saying Goodbye to a Southern Man’s Best Friend”

  1. We lost my boy Dreyfus last December. He was half Beagle-half Weiner (a Beaner). I still find myself looking on the floor by my chair, expecting him to be looking up at me with those wise and loving eyes of his. Man, do I miss that dog.

  2. Johnnie McEwen Parker Reply June 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this wonderful and heart warming story about “Duke.” Being a dog lover myself I truly appreciate your memories of him. God Bless you for sharing your thoughts about such a wonderful compainion. I have five adopted “children” (dogs) of my own, all thrown away by people who just didn’t want them. R.I.P. Duke. Johnnie McEwen Parker

  3. We lost our Bebes almost three years ago. (I got him in 1994, and he was named for Alabama coach Gene “Bebes” Stallings. Yeah, I’m that guy.) Over the course of his fourteen years, I developed a dog allergy, which has mad me reluctant to replace him. That and he was simply an awesome dog that didn’t get as much of our attention as he deserved.

    Thanks for giving us a little peek into the life of Sir Duke, Dave.

  4. I’m not a dog person. Georgia was the only dog I ever liked. I’m not a dog person. Dixie and Coco are now the only dogs I ever will love. I’m not a dog person. I have tears in my eyes reading about Sir Duke. I’m not a dog person.

  5. Kimberly Torchia Reply June 23, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I AM a dog person!! I wish everyone could realize the love a dog brings into your lives, a love to me, that very strongly resembles that of God!! Unconditional, always forgiving, and always happy to see you when you return, no matter how short or long you’ve been gone!!
    This story reminded me a lot of “Marley and me”, I know lots of “Marley and me’s” out there, but I think they would all say the same thing, it was all worth it!!
    Very beautifully written, I loved it, and it definitely made me cry, good job!!

  6. David, an eloquent homage to man’s best friend.
    I, too, have loved and lost great ones. We had a huge yellow Lab appropriately named, “Big Dog” that affected everyone he met.

    I think Big Dog and Sir Duke would have been good buds.

  7. Awesome….thank you for sharing David

  8. Some of the best writing I’ve read so far–thanks for sharing.


  1. Yet Another Hiding Place For Dangerous Stuff | Gadaboutblogalot's Blog - June 23, 2011

    […] Saying Goodbye to a Southern Man’s Best Friend ( […]

  2. Be a Real Southerner: Read our Weekly Round-Up | Real Southern Men - June 25, 2011

    […] If you’ve ever had a dog, lost a dog or just seen a dog, David Reber’s touching eulogy to his departed Sir Duke Ellington will have you pretending not to cry. Maybe you should read it while cutting onions so you’ll have a good excuse. It’s called “Saying Goodbye to a Southern Man’s Best Friend.” […]

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