When he was six, Marge began to notice that Duncan was drinking more water than normal and his usually beautiful coat looked dull and lifeless, and she even thought that he had begun to walk in a peculiar way. She gathered him up and hurried to see the vet, but she was not prepared for what she was about to hear. After getting the results of all the tests, Doctor Wilson spoke as gently as he knew how. “Marge” he almost whispered, “It seems that Duncan has chronic, progressive kidney failure. Certainly there are several things we can do to help him feel better, but I am afraid that there is little we can do to stop the progression of the disease. 

Marge drove home in a daze. Unbridled tears coursed down her cheeks and more than once, she nearly ran off the road. The unthinkable had happened. They were going to have to give up their beloved Duncan. Once home, she still had the dreaded task of breaking the news to Ted.

The next few months went by far too quickly. Duncan would have some good days, but far too often he would seem to be in pain. Always the stoic Scottie, he would never give in to the agony that he must have been feeling. He would always be ready for a short walk with Marge or even a quick car trip with Ted. They spent as much time with him as they could. Marge lovingly and faithfully prepared special meals for him and tried to keep his life as normal as possible. Then came the day that they both knew would eventually come. The day that Duncan would look up at them with those dark, deep set almond eyes that seemed to say he had suffered enough. That was the day that the dreaded decision had to be made. It takes courage to do the right thing, and a love that expresses itself in compassion. Even then, it is the most difficult of all tasks ever done for an adored companion.

Duncan was to be cremated and buried in his beloved back yard, right near the rock wall where for six years he had terrorized the chipmunks and walked a daily beat to make sure there were no intruders into “his” territory. Marge lovingly gathered up all of his toys. She wanted to make sure that he would have his favorite things to draw comfort from as he took his last journey to see the vet. She planned for him to have them with him at his final resting place. She found his stuffed hedgehog and penguin and some of his chew toys, but try as she would, she could not locate his favorite yellow ball. She had bought him that ball on the day they had gotten him and it was rarely out of his sight. He carried it around with him wherever he went. When the door was opened for him to go outside, he would have to first go find his ball before he would venture one step out the door. Once outside, he might lay it down to investigate some new or strange event, but would never return inside without it. At bedtime he would make sure that it was right there beside him in his bed.

Wiping the ever present tears from her eyes, Marge looked everywhere she knew to look for that ball. Perhaps Duncan had taken it outside and in his illness had forgotten to bring it back in. She walked every inch of the back yard but no ball. She looked in every closet and under every bed, but to no avail. Reluctantly, they laid Duncan to rest with all of his toys, except his beloved blue ball.

Several weeks later, Marge stood with her mop in her hand, fearing that was losing what little sanity that she had left. She was sure that she had heard the jingle of his dog tags. Although in some small way, it brought her comfort, it was very disconcerting.

Some of Marge’s friends had encouraged her to get another puppy right away, while others cautioned her about being too hasty. Thinking that sometimes it is better to allow yourself some time to grieve and to “get over” her loss. Marge knew that she would never “get over” Duncan. He had been so very special. She also knew that she could never replace him, yet there was an emptiness about the house. There was something that she could not quite put her finger on, a restlessness, so to speak, like a hovering cloud that just would not go away. Since this was Ted’s busiest time of the year, and he was gone from home for long hours, Marge decided that she need someone to keep her company.

After contemplating her options, Marge began to actively pursue finding another puppy. Once her mind was settled, the spirit of the house seemed to change as well. It was as if somehow, someone was smiling at her again. Her mood lifted, she was now ready to make some calls about actually finding that special guy to share their home.

This proved to be far more difficult than she had anticipated. She could not find a suitable puppy anywhere in the state. After following some leads, she located a breeder that might have a puppy in the spring. Realizing that this might be her only option, Marge settled in to wait the four month until her little bundle of joy would find his way to their home.

It seemed like the time would never pass, but eventually the day arrived that Marge and Ted were to pick up their new puppy. He was all they had hoped for and then some. A more lively and exuberant puppy they had never seen. The breeder had told them that he had always been quite a handful, into everything and much the little rogue. That was it, the perfect name, Rogue it is!!!

It took much of the day to get Rogue home, and by the time they arrived, Marge and Ted were ready for a quiet cup of tea. Rogue had other ideas. Not even slightly daunted by his new surroundings, Rogue dashed here and there. Grabbing a left over ball of yarn and scampering into the bedroom, dashing under the bed and out a gain, almost quicker than your eye could follow him. It had been a long time since Marge and Ted had a puppy in the house and at this point they were not sure this had been such a great idea. But then Rogue cam bounding in with the end of the toilet paper roll and a trail of paper behind him. Ted and Marge laughed until tears of joy, this time, filled their eyes. They had made the right decision after all. Marge laughingly scolded the little imp and proceeded to clean up the mess. There is was again, the certain jingle of dog tags. Rogue was much too young for tags but she knew she had hears them. She looked up and saw Rogue standing there with Duncan's blue ball in his mouth. At first she wanted to take it away from him. How dare he to play with Duncan's favorite ball when Duncan could no longer do so. Then it hit her. Perhaps her dear Duncan had intentionally left the ball somewhere so this little character could find it, and who knows, perhaps he had stayed around long enough to show this little Rogue just where he had hidden it.

Duffy's Gift

In July of 1999, the call came in that a shelter in northern Alabama had rescued a Scottie out of a back yard, and that he was in pretty rough shape. I called a friend who lived near-by and she went to get him out. The volunteer vet at the shelter said that he was in such bad shape, we should just put him to sleep. My friend said she still saw that Scottie spark in his eyes so I asked her to take him to her vet and do a Heartworm test. If the test was positive, we would help him to the bridge because in that condition, he could not stand the treatment. Fortunately, the HW test was negative. So she drove him straight to me in Nashville (where we were living then). When she pulled his emaciated little body out of the crate I cried. This dog weighed 11 pounds, his paper thin skin was hanging under his belly, He had very little hair, both his ears were split, probably from fighting. We named him MacDuff, but his friends just called him Duffy. His teeth were worn down to nubs. (My vet later told me that starving dogs chew on rocks and dirt to try to find some sustenance and in doing this, he had worn his teeth down to nearly nothing. When she sat him out of the crate, he could barely walk, kept his head down, but when I looked in those eyes, I knew we had to try to save him. He was covered with fleas, which had so depleted his body that his blood count was dangerously low. With some IV fluids, high-energy supplements, hand feeding, and lots of TLC, things started to turn around. By day three, he wagged his tail, and within a couple of weeks, we heard him bark for the first time. That was a day we celebrated, because when a Scottie feels like voicing an opinion, we knew he is on the way to recovery.

After about two more months of TLC, Duffy embarked on his next round of adventures. Libby Gault and her two sons came to visit him on Sunday afternoon, and it was love at first sight for both her 11 year old son, Jordan, and Duffy. Duffy would chase the ball as long as Jordan threw it for him. We didn't feel that Duffy was quite ready to leave our vet's care, but we knew that when he was well enough, Duffy would be going home with Jordan. A few weeks later, we packed his little bag and off he went for his ''happily ever after''.

But Duffy's story does not end there either. A few days later Libby called me with tears of joy in her voice. Unbeknownst to me, Jordan had been having lots of trouble adjusting to some changes in his life and had been have horrible nightmares, and doing some dangerous sleepwalking. I knew Duffy was far from being housebroken, and cautioned Libby to allow Duffy to continue to sleep in a crate until he could be trusted. However, Duffy had other ideas. The very first night, he made him self at home in Jordan's bed and Libby did not have the heart to make him move. The next morning, she realized that Jordan had not awakened screaming as had become his pattern. Nor did he do it the next night, nor the next. In fact for the next five and half years, Duffy and Jordan were partners, sleeping peacefully together. Still Duffy's story continues, about three years ago, the family was transferred to Bahrain, and was there for a couple of years, last year they were transferred to Germany. I heard from Libby at Thanksgiving that Duffy was not doing so well, and that they were very afraid they were loosing him. Another letter shortly there after said he had seemed to rally and that it looks like another Duffy miracle was in process. However today, the letter came that I had dreaded every time I saw her name on the e-mail. Here is Duffy's final chapter written, I am sure with tears of sorrow.

Hi Ginger, I'm hoping this message finds you well and that you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's. I had hoped to write you sooner and let you know how much better Duffy had been doing since Thanksgiving. I didn't write you soon enough. Duffy passed away today very unexpectedly.

I say unexpectedly because over the month of December he had really perked up. He was walking and trotting well on his own, eating much better, and interacting with everyone much better. Dr. Adam had lowered his insulin thinking that was the cause of Duffy's problems, and it seemed to do the trick for a while. So the holiday season was very nice for everyone, including Duffy.

Bill left on Wednesday of last week to return to Africa and every day after that Duffy seemed to do a little more poorly. Loss of appetite, rapid weight loss, inactivity, everything essentially He spent his evening lying on my Nanny's feet or my feet or in my lap. This morning Nannie left to return to Tennessee and I made sure before we left the house that Duffy was comfortable on his bed in the kitchen He had an extra lovely (blanket) and soft music and Slippers for company. Even though I knew he wasn't feeling great I really didn't think that today would be his last. I was planning on coming home and just holding him in my lap for a while

We have decided to have Duffy cremated in order to bring him home with us when we finally return to the states. The facilities that I've chosen are to be highly commended. I think regular funeral homes would do well to be as considerate as this gentleman was. Duffy will be transported to Strasbourg, France to be cremated under quality controls, returned to us, and then sealed in an urn of our choosing; I thanked Herr Meinhard profusely as I felt like this was a proper and fitting ending for Duffy; I could not have borne it if he had been just thrown in a truck and hauled off to the pound; He had been treated like garbage once in his life and I just didn't feel like he should be treated that way at the end of it I gave, and still give, thanks that God chose to bless us with his little life; I hope I have been as much a blessing in return. And I thank you, Ginger, for what you do in service to these souls; They have hearts that are as much deserving of love and respect as any human and you have been such a blessing to all the Scotties that you have helped rescue.

Thank you Ginger, for all you have done. I'm sorry to relay sad news but I knew you would want to know. Please take care.

With much love,

So it is with sadness, over his loss, but with joy over his life, that I write this tribute to a true Diehard, what a little trouper he was. I would love for his first owners to know what a wonderful life he has led for the past five and half years. He became a world traveler, and a much prized family member.
Marge looked up from her mopping when she heard the familiar jingle of Duncan’s dog tags. For a brief moment she smiled, but then grief engulfed her once again. She felt her stomach knot up, and it seemed as if she would choke as her throat began to burn and tighten. Great sobs wracked her body, and tears streamed down her face. Dear Duncan was gone. Was she going mad? This was not the first time she had “heard” him enter a room, or felt his presence at the door, waiting to go outside. More than once she had even started to prepare his dinner, then the inevitable would happen and she would remember that he was dead.

Duncan was quite unlike the other Scotties that had graced her home over the years. Even from the beginning he had seemed smaller and frailer, than the others. He wasn’t as active as his predecessors, nor was he as full of mischief as a Scottie puppy is apt to be. But he had the sweetest little spirit. He was far more affectionate than any of the others and seemed to be able to read the mood of the household. He would always be quite willing to spend the day quietly at Marge’s feet if she was not feeling up to par. When she was recuperating from surgery, Duncan would not leave her side except for the necessary trips outdoors. He refused all food until she was better. When Ted had to work extra long hours, Duncan would nestle beside him in the big overstuffed recliner, enticing Ted to run his fingers through the long glossy coat which always seemed to ease his tensions after an especially difficult day at the office. Often he would bring his favorite yellow ball for Ted to throw for him to chase down the hallway. Inevitably this would bring a smile and erase the worry lines from his face. Duncan was always there for them, no matter what. It was too bad that fate had dealt him such a hard blow. 
Heart Tugs

Duncan's Story (A true story)
Copyright © 2005-2009 Colonsay Scotties. All Rights Reserved.
'Braveheart' © Lynn Paterson, used with permission.