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  • Duke

    This is such a difficult post to write – in memory of Duke (and his best friend Hank).

    Duke was around 5 months old when he started attending daycare part-time and he quickly became friends with Hank, a 2 year old Weimaraner. Duke followed him everywhere and grew to love him so much. As Duke got older, he attended daycare 4 or 5 days a week and they were inseparable. I have so many wonderful photos of them together. About 4 years ago, Hank broke a toe and had to stay on “bed-rest” so would come to daycare and hang out in their office rooms instead of go into playgroup. Duke would cry for him and the staff started letting him in during nap time so they could sleep together.

    On May 16th and 17th, Duke and Hank were at daycare together but Hank was noticeably exhausted. His family took him to the vet that weekend and they found he had leukemia advanced enough that at his age they decided to let him cross the bridge. When Duke came home from daycare both of those days, he seemed depressed and not interested in food – he skipped dinner the 16th and breakfast the 17th. I took him to the vet Saturday the 18th for a full senior check and blood panel – everything was perfect. When she called with his results on Monday I told her about Hank’s passing and we decided that he knew his friend was sick and that he was mourning. We decided to keep track of things and to bring him back if he didn’t improve or if he started exhibiting other symptoms (she specifically mentioned heart related ones like shortness of breath, coughing, lethargy – which he had NOT been experiencing).

    After skipping those two meals he started eating again, just without his usual joy for eating (food made him SO happy) but he seemed content with his routine – we went on his normal outings without tiring, every time I asked if he wanted to go to daycare or on a walk he would get up wagging his tail, and while he still seemed sad he also seemed to be improving. We had a fantastic Memorial Weekend – I was off for 4 days, we had some great times walking around the city and wooded trails, and splashing in a wading pool on our patio. There was a 50th birthday party for a submarine docked at the river and Duke enjoyed greeting the older veterans who had served on the sub. Duke was back at daycare Tuesday through Friday, came home happy each afternoon, and ate almost every meal (even “asked” for a dried duck foot for “dessert”). I thought he had turned a corner. Friday night he sat beside me as normal while I did some work on the couch and then we snuggled up with a movie. He stayed sleeping on the couch when I went upstairs to bed (which wasn’t unusual if it was late).

    Saturday morning, I heard him coming upstairs and I met him at the top of the landing on my way into the bathroom (our usual morning routine of him following me in there lol). He was a little out of breath so I sat with him on the bath mat while he settled down but then he was fine and he followed me downstairs. He was again out of breath after coming downstairs, but he sat on his bed and his breathing settled. He didn’t want breakfast but got up for a drink. He seemed normal again, but I knew he needed to be checked out and it sounded like the heart symptoms his vet mentioned. When I got his leash out he stood up and was happy to walk out the front steps and jump into the SUV. He sat in his normal spot on the second seat with his head between the front seats, against my arm and was breathing calmly. I called his regular vet to let them know we were on the way but in route his breathing suddenly took a turn and he collapsed across the second seat so we changed course for the emergency vet– it was only about 10 minutes away at that point but he couldn’t hold on and I think he stopped breathing before we pulled in. They were fast (his vet had called ahead and they met us at the car door) and attempted CPR and some meds, but couldn’t revive him.

    I am devastated from the suddenness and the loss. I thought we would see his vet and she would do the cardiac exam and I was preparing myself for a diagnosis and discussion of what that would mean for the future. I didn’t want them opening him up at the e-vet so we can’t know for sure, but I assume it was heart failure from an underlying condition like DCM and that it was possibly worsened by his sadness at the loss of his friend. I took him home to my parents farm where he loved to run and buried him beside his bunnies (you may recall that I had a pair of house rabbits when Duke was a new puppy). He had just turned 7 in March. The house is so quiet without him and I can’t recall ever feeling this alone – he wasn’t a loud dog but he had such a presence and was always beside me, touching or leaning on me. I miss him more than I could imagine.

    I’ll try to upload some photos for this post if I can figure out how – one Duke with Hank, one from our Memorial Day walk near the submarine in Philly, and one from my parents farm.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by AprilLynne; 06-12-2019, 09:55 AM. Reason: Trying to figure out how to upload the photos!

    Duke - mismarked mantle dane, March 14, 2012
    Twitter: @DukeTheDane

  • #2
    oh, what a crushing loss. i'm so so sorry! from experience, i know DCM is a very insidious condition and unless the early symptoms are very pronounced, it can come on very suddenly. my samson started out with a cough i heard only a couple of times then his appetite got less and less. it was barely 2 weeks from the time he was diagnosed until i laid him to rest. i hope you can take comfort in the fact that your sweet boy died without struggling. i know that doesn't make your loss any more bearable but there just aren't words that can convey the sorrow i feel for you.

    i am also very sorry for the loss of hank. they are together now while you pick up the pieces of your heart. sending you hugs and comfort! <3


    • #3
      So very sorry
      Dale AKC CGC Evaluator
      Associate Member GDCNE
      Member GSPCA
      Member NAVHDA
      Member Central Maine Kennel Club
      High Hopes Great Danes & German Shorthairs


      • #4
        Beautifully stated, Charlene. I'm so sorry for your loss.
        ~ Lisa & Rupert