The Departure of Duke the Dog

My pal, my buddy, Duke the Dog has departed from our dwelling.  He didn’t ask directly to be deported, but his comportment of late has become increasingly costly in terms of cash, time, and labor.  Since we have little cash, not enough time, and sufficient labor already, Duke’s last-straw situation mandated his removal.

Duke’s humble beginnings in Casa Blanca began with his roué father and frail mother.  He was from a litter of four, two of which lived only days.  The third had its eye poked out by his father, Killer.  During Duke’s first few weeks of life, his skin-and-bones mother, malnourished as she was and unable to produce sufficient milk for her brood, was killed by a car.  I saw no future for Duke’s brother other than becoming a Somali pirate, so I brought Duke home in a plastic bag on my bicycle.  I began feeding him a popular brand puppy food softened with the 2% fat milk that I drink.  I took him to the vet for his shots.  I played with him and cuddled him.  I bought him squeaky toys and a ball with a bell in it.  I taught the children how to enjoy a pet without abusing it.  Duke flourished and in six months grew to be a strong, healthy middle-sized dog.

But Duke had his dog faults.  He chewed into the cover of a wooden chair we found here and removed the stuffing from the seat little by little if the chair were not kept atop the toilet cubicle out of his reach.  He never outgrew that and we got little enjoyment from the chair.  He continued to attack anything that moved including clothes blowing on the clothes line, apron strings, shoe laces, etc.  He was caught as a pup first snuggling our blanket draped almost to the floor and then chewing it.  Perhaps it was an error to give him his own piece of cloth to chew on, but we thought it would divert him.  He also gnawed on the corner of our TV center removing some of its paint.  As he grew, his “need” for attention turned to bullying our little daughter Adriana and annoying all of us if we were watching TV or eating at the table.  He learned to scratch the cheap cement on the patio causing holes to appear on the vertical portion as well as the horizontal.  He learned all kinds of destructive behavior when he didn’t get his way.  More than once, he damaged the chicken wire fence that was supposed to keep him out of the garden.  He finally knocked a part of it down.  Why?  He liked to chew on corn stalks.  He also chews bark and branches on an evergreen tree we have in a pot on the patio.  When we put him on a chain so we could go out, he learned to chew and claw the curtain that hangs in the door between the kitchen and patio that serves to keep at least some flies out.

Yesterday was his downfall.  I can’t say it was entirely his fault, but he did make a decision that proved costly for us and ultimately for him.  Margarita and I were at the church to get the kids from CDI.  Juan was home with María and her boyfriend Milton.  They were sitting on the front stoop in line with the courting custom.  Duke was in the house.  Normally, he sits by the door barking because he wants to be with his people.  The young people obviously were oblivious to his absence.  He jumped on the bed and tore several holes in our (for me) expensive blanket.  When I discovered the tattered blanket and scattered patches I was furious.  Partly with the dog; partly with the young adults.  I am sure Duke was making his growling ‘I weel keel you!’ noise quite audibly with the kids only a few feet away.  Lazy Salvadorans that they are, they wouldn’t bother to see what was going on.  (Cultural observation.) 

After screaming at the dog, Juan and María and frightening Margarita while chasing the culprit with a broom ready to annihilate him, I told Juan to take him to Casa Blanca so he could appreciate what he had and blew.  He did so.  I then threw his toys in the garbage.  I wanted no reminder of his presence.

This morning, I put the remainder of his dogfood in a plastic bag along with his dish and the cup for measuring the food.  I told Margarita to tell her son to take it with him this afternoon when he goes up to Casa Blanca.  Thus endeth the great experiment with having a mongrel dog.  A Salvadoran mongrel dog.

Juan likes to play with Duke.  The little kids won’t miss him and will be able to molest him when they go to visit their grandmother.  María never got along with him.  My sense is that Margarita tolerated him because I loved the little fellow.  Live goes on.  People and dogs come and go.

Duke at about Six Weeks

Watch “Duke the Dog” video:                                                 


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