Sunday, May 11, 2008

Warrior Prince Duke Dog Knight

Winter in Beaufort has been good and I am chomping at the bit to get back to the boat in France.  Cataract surgery is keeping me here for another month or so, but it will be nice to be able to see again.

In January we rescued a dog.  His name, at the time, was Zeus.  We changed his name to Duke -  as it suited his regal air.

The Beaufort Gazette ad, that Sunday morning, in “Items Less Than $100,”  read “Beautiful Great Dane Puppy, $100, 843-XXX-XXXX.”

I read the ad and filed it away in my mind till the following Sunday when I saw the ad again.  This time I mentioned it to Mary Ellen.  Well, Mary Ellen, queen of the downtrodden and savior of all things needing saving, decided we had to go and at least have a look at the dog.

We dialed the number and made an appointment that morning to see exactly what was being offered.  The address was given to us and, as we drove up to the doublewide mobile home, we saw the “Great Dane Puppy.”  BIG he was, but Great Dane he wasn't.  Our guess is that he is part Great Dane and part Black Lab – he does have webbed feet.  We prefer to call him a "Lesser Dane," when asked. 

The owner explained that the elderly parents he had left his dog with couldn't keep the dog anymore and that, if a home wasn't found, he was going to shoot the animal.

The dog had never lived indoors, never had seen a vet, and had been left to fend for himself, probably from the beginning of his life.  Now, at eleven months, nobody wanted him and he was going to be destroyed.  

Well, that settled it for Mary Ellen.  We went home and talked about it for a while and then she decided to go back and get the dog.  Maybe, if we couldn't keep him, we could at least find him a good home.

That is how Duke came to MarshSong.

As stated earlier, he had never seen a vet.  He was covered from nose to tail with tick bites, skinny and his coat was dirty.  But, he was the most loving dog that I had ever seen.  We made an appointment with the local vet and took him.  He weighed 83# and had about every sort of worm imaginable, including heartworm.  He had obviously been totally neglected health wise.

The doctor advised us that the heartworm treatments would either cure him, or kill him, as the injections were a form of arsenic and the treatment regime was very difficult.  In addition, Duke had to be kept quiet for six weeks as any activity could cause the heart worms to break loose and migrate to his lungs and kill him.  

Well, "in for a dime, in for a dollar," we had no choice but proceed with his treatments.  They were not easy, either on Duke nor on us.  He had to be walked on a leash and kept from any over excitement.  He developed a hacking, almost choking, cough which was terrible to listen to as well as witness.  But, four weeks went by and more tests and then his final treatment.  Seven weeks after he started the series he was declared heart worm free and was alive!

He started gaining weight, his coat turned a beautiful, satiny black that reflects the light like black chrome.  His tick bites healed and he started acting like the puppy that he had never been.  He has gained about thirty pounds since the day we got him and is still growing.

His “puppyhood” had obviously not had any restrictions so he liked to wander and would disappear for an hour or two, always coming back, mostly chasing the Jeep we used to round him up, but none-the-less worrisome to us.  He loves to ride in cars and would get into the UPS and FEDEX trucks when they made deliveries.  We didn't want to have him stolen by someone.  Finally, we had an electronic fence installed that gives him about two acres to roam unrestricted.  He honors the boundaries of the fence.

We also decided to have him neutered.  He went to the vet one day and came home two days later, his bark a little higher pitched than before.  We are still waiting for the effects of that procedure to take effect because he seems to be as interested in dogs of the female persuasion as he ever was.

All in all, getting him heathy and feeling secure has been a very rewarding journey for us.  

The other night, Mary Ellen said that he was truly a “gift!”  

I agree, he is a gift.