The fidelity of a dog is a precious gift demanding no less binding moral responsibilities than the friendship of a human being. – Konrad Lorenz
A year has passed since we lost our pet Duke to cancer and the past few days have been filled with bittersweet furry memories.
Death seems to have a way of playing tricks on my mind and some days I think Duke has been gone a long time and other times I think I can hear his soft snoring. There seems to be an ebb and flow to grief. This month, so far, has been an emotional time for me.
But even in his absence Duke has found a way to be part of our lives. It all started on that first weekend after Duke died and my husband and I found ourselves with an empty Saturday afternoon ahead of us. We missed Duke and our daily walks with him. So we decided to drive to a state park and go for a walk. On that hike the fresh air, the warm sun and gentle breeze soothed our grieving hearts. We shared Duke stories and shed a few sad tears. At the end of the five-mile hike our sorrow was a little less and our hearts a little lighter. But on that cool windy afternoon we had a sort of epiphany when we realized we liked, no loved, spending time together. So a new hobby was born.
Since then we have walked many miles and trails. Rockville Park in Fairfield continues to be a favorite with the stately oaks and winding paths. We challenged ourselves on the Stebbins Cold Canyon Trail with breathtaking views of Lake Berryessa. We hiked the rocky Pacific Crest Trail near Truckee. We found refuge from the summer heat at China Camp State Park and the Coastal Trail near Muir Beach.
The 12 mile hike in mid-September on the Appalachian Trail near Harpers Ferry in West Virginia was one the highlights of our trip back east for a family wedding.
Our hikes were cut short for a few weeks when I developed tendinitis in my right ankle but we are slowly resuming our walking “dates.” The route that works best for me now is, ironically, the one that we used to take Duke on. For practical reasons, we rarely walked Duke together; instead we took turns with morning and evening walks.
We still miss Duke and his eccentricities. But in our grief we found something enduring and worthwhile to commemorate. Our nest is still empty, especially without Duke, but now we have a way to honor his memory and celebrate the wonder of us. What a legacy Duke has left us! We lost a pet but re-discovered each other. Our walking journey has come full circle.
Thank you Duke.