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The Duke of Aylmer

Feb 3, 2012

I have to be honest with you. Like right up front. I never wanted another dog. I had two others. Bailey and Dakota. They didn’t work out at all. They were aggressive and I wasn’t a good owner.

So when it was suggested to me that I bring a new dog in my life, I was reluctant. Not openly, more to myself. In fact I just bit my tongue and went and saw the little of cute little Lab pups. Once there you can’t help but say, “Ahhhhhhhhhh”. They are cute, tiny, like little plush toys that interact with you. We picked one out, named it Duke, I wanted Tiberious, and began the adventure of owning another dog.

There wasn’t a lot of time before the we became me and I was now the sole caretaker of the dog. At first I resented Duke. He tied you down, costed me hundreds and hundreds of dollars. In fact in the last two years including buying him I have spent close to 5000 dollars. Owning a dog seems cute and fun to most but it’s a huge commitment to the actual caretaker. It’s like a job or a relationship. Quite often they seem like an amazing idea or like they will be whimsical at the beginning, then when the reality of life slips in, there a lot of work. You can end a relationship, quit a job or a team. But I was stuck with Duke.

As Duke and I grew older together we grew closer. We had our share of fights. He ate slippers, sandals and stuffed animals. He didn’t come when he was called… most times. He licked everyone to the point of discomfort earning him the nickname “Sir Licks-A-Lot” by my son.

This fall I was at camp alone. First time in 8 years. Just me mostly. I started to walk everyday and I took Duke with me. We would do 5k or 8k every day. It was great because I lost over 20 pounds. It gave me a chance to be alone with my thoughts. If there is one thing I miss about living at camp it is the beauty of walking along the lake and the quiet of the Moon Point Beach Dr. I talked to the Universe every day and would often look down at Duke as cars past by. It looked like I was talking to him rather than to myself. I think he listened to me though. As we walked along he would look up at me with those big eyes and if I stopped he had an expression of “Go, on….”

We became close. He was my friend. My confidant. My partner. When I moved to Aylmer (in the GLA) I made sure that my new home had a BIG back yard. I wanted Duke to be able to just go out. He loves it. He is happy.

This past week, I had a very long, sad and sometimes angry time. I was down and Duke knew it. He would come to me and rest his head on my knee and sigh. I would pet him and he would lick my hand, just once. Like a way of hugging me or kissing me on the forehead to say, “It’s going to be ok.”

He won’t leave my side now. We talk at length and he knows more about me then most people. Last night I was sitting in my living room with a new friend and he kept putting his paws on me. Resting it like he was wanting to hold me. This usually means he wants to go out or have dinner. I got up and walked to the back door and he stopped.  He didn’t want to go out. He looked at me and started to walk back to the living room. We sat back down and he placed his paw again on my knee then his head and let out a deep sigh. He just wanted to say he loved me. That we are a team. He wasn’t going to leave me.

We went out for a long walk to clear my head and get us both some exercise. As we walked down the main street of town a nice older couple stopped me and said, “He’s beautiful! What’s his name?”

I said smiled and said “This is Duke.” They pet him, he of course gave them a lick.

I am finally settling into this little town. I am finally excepting my new adventure and my solitude. As I walked away from that couple I looked down at him and said “Yes you are beautiful dog, you are a Duke, the Duke of Aylmer.”

I had been looking for something or someone to cheer me up or come in or come back into my life. The whole time I forgot that I had the best friend I could ask for.

Thanks Universe for reminding me and thank you for Duke.

Posted by Stu Saunders in Family Life Learning and Growing on Feb 3, 2012 at 6:07 am | Permanent Link | Comments (6)


  • Comment posted on Feb 3, 2012 at 7:53 am by ORNJ (YLCC Member)

    Well said, Stu!!  Amazing how our lives can change when we connect with someone ... or somedog!!

    Missing you and Duke!!

    (And remember, Aylmer is really just part of the extended GOA!!)

  • Comment posted on Feb 3, 2012 at 10:27 am by Aaroneous (YLCC Member)

    Oh man! Stu, I know ive said it before… and who knows if you take these words for how i truly mean them BUT this is my favourite blog. Ive never had my own dog, we had rabbits - which were great buuuut uncomparable to 10 minutes spent with Duke.
    Im so glad you and Duke-atron are such great friends, one day i hope i can have a dog half the dog duke is (not a size joke).
    I too got to spend a whole range of emotions with Duke as he has eaten clothes, cell phones to mp3 players of mine.He has had to listen to me! and run and evade skunks (i was better at this one than he was) but you know that dog has a big ‘ol slobbery heart and im so happy i got to spend some time with him - because now i know what dogs are supposed to be like.

    Thanks for Sharing - the post and the dog


  • Comment posted on Feb 3, 2012 at 11:26 am by Erin Grittani (YLCC Member)

    This blog made me smile grin

  • Comment posted on Feb 3, 2012 at 11:32 am by Angela (YLCC Member)

    Yeah I just cried in the coffee shop - for more reasons than just this post!

  • Comment posted on Feb 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm by AnnMarie (YLCC Member)

    Awwwwww Stu! I only met Duke a few times, but I feel closer to him now after reading this blog. What a true picture of companionship. I hope to have a four legged companion one day. I know that you must learn a tremendous amount about yourself when you become responsible for someone of something else. I am really excited to start that journey someday. When I am ready.

    Have a great weekend,

    Ann Marie

  • Comment posted on Feb 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm by Carolyn-Marie Goodwin (YLCC Member)

    I really enjoyed reading this Blog!  It made me smile.

    The journey of life is never certain.  Life consistently comes at us with unexpected twists and turns.  It is during these events in our lives, that unexpected friendships, likes, dislikes and changes of perception occur.  These changes of perception are usually the most rewarding.  They are caused by growth, and we become better people for it.

    I have a love for all animals!  I also love when you connect with them on that kind of level! They can and most often become your greatest friend.  They are the greatest listeners, empathizers, snugglers, and appreciators.  They also challenge your personhood and test your limits.  They are usually one of the greatest companions you will ever have.

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