It’s been exhausting and rewarding, frustrating and humbling, funny and sincere. Duke is getting better y’all! I mean, deep down I knew he would, but it’s so hard to remember that fact when you’re in the weeds.

Yesterday I’m sitting on the couch answering a multitude of e-mails, and here comes Duke, face planting into my lap. Here’s me, pushing him off so I could type. It’s funny when you realize you’re being a moron. Three weeks ago, I was sitting in that exact spot, without Duke, reliving the memory of his body shutting down while I held him. Really Julie?! Fool. Here he comes again – that bulldog determination is a mighty force – and he succeeds. The butt wiggling, face licking, and arm pawing victory dance commences and ends with Duke rolling over and falling asleep on his back while is legs dangle and twitch as he softly snores.

His surgical scar is thick and his trach wound is scabbed over. Pink scar wounds freckle his nose. The hair grows in unevenly on his chest and legs. And he is overwhelmingly happy.


He wakes up for no reason and bounds off the couch, sliding into a chair because his left side is still slightly neurologically deficient from the stroke, but he trots along anyway kicking his buffalo down the hall and tearing him a new one like the defiant badass that he is. He does his daily ritual of slowly approaching the corner of the hallway until he taps his head. Of course, this makes me laugh … really hard, but then I like to believe that my dog is capable of teaching himself a new depth perception since one eye is bunk.

We do our daily ritual together of bicycling his legs and pretending to poke him in the left eye, but each day it’s different. Several days ago, he nipped my hand. He saw it! So that’s the new game we play, and everyday he reacts more and more.
Jon comes home and Duke climbs in his lap, grunting softly while Jon cleans his wounds, but he doesn’t protest.

And we eat dinner. And that’s how life goes in our house now because Duke is here to stay.

p.s. These pictures were shot pre-surgery.


  1. I told you he'd bust it out! Way to go, Duke! Yay differently-abled dog weirdness and delight!

  2. You called it! Yay to the differenly-abled dogs :) Now we definitely have to have a party ... once Duke learns some manners!