I vividly remember the day Duke became a part of our family. It was a warm spring day in April of my my senior year of high school. Some time had past since our family dog had passed away and we were ready to be dog owners again. My younger sister and I had spend the previous weeks researching where we could find Boxer puppies for sale and finally found some in Danville, Illinois. My Dad does a lot business there and is familiar with the area so we easily convinced our parents to make the 3 hour trek from Chicago to take a look at some adorable puppies. We were all very excited so the ride seemed to take forever. Actually, it did take forever since my Dad was driving and he is an extremely slow driver. I was beginning to worry the dogs would be fully grown by the time we got there. Had I ridden to Danville on a turtle, I probably would have gotten there faster.
Once we arrived all the puppies were sleeping outside in the backyard (apparently no one told them we were coming). We gave them some time to wake up, coast for a bit, maybe have a cup of coffee and read the front page of the paper, while we did the whole meet and greet with Duke’s parents. They were a nice couple, the father pretty big, looked like his nails could have used a trimming but I didn’t want to judge. Duke’s mother was a bit too much to handle; she was extremely hyper. I give her credit for her enthusiasm but dat bitch was saggy (Bitch is the term used for a female dog, I’m not being rude). Her tummy nearly hit the ground it was so stretched out. I politely suggested maybe she sign up for a few Pilates classes to strengthen her core after having all those kids and my mom quickly came to her aid. “Leave her alone she just had puppies!” That was 5 weeks ago Mom, stop making excuses for her.
The whole long car ride there my mom kept telling my younger sister, Jane, and I that we could pick out the puppy. She said we did all the work to find the litter of puppies (which we did) and that since our other 3 siblings were away having a grand old time in Ireland, we could represent the kids and choose our new family dog. We carefully inspected each puppy, spending time with each to see which one would be the best fit for our family. Finally we had picked out what we thought was the cutest puppy in the bunch. We scooped him up, and brought him over to our parents who were on the other side of the yard. “Mom, we picked out the puppy!” We said excitedly. Her back was to us at first but when she turned around I saw that she was carrying 2 puppies, one in each arm. Without hesitation she responded, “Mmmm no that’s a ‘flashy Boxer’ we don’t want that one. They’re cute when they’re puppies but once they grow up they aren’t as cute. Definitely not that one. But you girls can help me choose between the 2 puppies I am holding!” Flat out denied. Talk about an empty promise. After we got over the initial shock and picked our jaws up off the ground, we put our dream dog back with the other rejects and “helped” our Mom choose between the two identical looking puppies in her arms. One dog was sound asleep in my mother’s left arm, while the other was looking around and panting with it’s tongue hanging out of it’s month as if it was 120 degrees in her right arm. We decide the one with the huge tongue had more personality so we chose him. That big tongued dog became our Duke.
It would be an understatement to say that our first few years with Duke were ruff-whoops-I mean ‘rough’. That “personality” that first drew us to Duke turned out to be quite destructive. He chewed up furniture, stairway railings, and even tore down wallpaper in our hallway. In his defensive the wallpaper was out dated, very ’90s-ish’ and I agreed with him that it needed to go. I think he was inspired by the shows on HGTV we would watch together and was just taking some initiative in redecorating the house. He also chewed up a picture of me that was hanging on the fridge and tore up my 8th grade graduation video. I did not come to his defense on those occasions due to the fact that I felt personally attacked by Duke.
I remember my parents calling me a number of times while I was away at college threatening to send Duke to “the farm” after he had ruined something else. I knew that they were bluffing and didn’t actually want to send him away, they aren’t that heartless. I mean sure, yea, they would promise their children they could pick out a puppy and then break that promise without a second thought but they wouldn’t ever get rid of the family pet. Someone just needed to whip the little brat dog into shape. And I knew just the man to do it-my Dad. He had trained 5 kids, surely he could train a dog.
After many months of my Dad working with Duke things slowly started to get better. With lots of training and discipline he wasn’t nearly as bad or destructive as he used to be. And Duke turned his behavior around too (wink). Although he still had a bit of an attitude and got into trouble every now and again, Duke was allowed to stay. He patched things up with my parents and they are closer than ever now.
While Duke may have a solid relationship with my parents, his relationship with me can be a little rocky at times. We love each other but we also fight a lot. We are both Aries (he March 26th and I March 29th) so it’s only natural for us to butt heads, we are the rams. Duke, like a typically boy, can always take things too far though. The other day, after we had a small quarrel, I was walking by while he was laying on the floor and he deliberately reached out his paw to try and trip me. I thought it was extremely immature of him. He’s 42 in dog years, when is he going to grow up? But at the end of the day we always apologize to each other and become friends again. This is mostly because we truly need each other. He needs me to feed him and to go on walks, and I need him for sending snap chats to my friends.
Although he can be selfish and whines a whole heck of a lot, he is a part of our family and we love him. Sure he has an attitude and can act like a teenager, but he has more personality than any other dog we have had. We may not always get along but we have fun. Looking back now I am glad my mother broke her promise about letting my sister and me pick out the puppy. If she hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t have Duke, Moms do know best! Thanks Mom!