Odie Duke Earl, known to all as Duke, was born on May 2nd on Johnsana Dachshund and Great Dane Stud just outside of Homebush NQ.
He was adopted into our family in July that same year, becoming a longed for son and little brother to 3 little girls, 6, 2 and 5 months.
He literally hit the ground running and was known well throughout Moranbah, instantly recognisable as the little dog who walked all over town with his mumma.
Duke was a very clever little fella and would hop into the basket under the pram in the summer time when the road was hot, or as he got older, when he was tired. This was all well and good until we would come across another dog on our travels, causing much confusion for their walkers, and embarrassment for me, as a tirade of barking abuse would be coming unseen, from the depths of my pram.
He was fiercely loyal, to the point of crazy. And over the years protected us valiantly from countless, birds, mice, beetles, walkers, meter men and slow moving cars.
He was carted all over Qld with us, very rarely left behind. We smuggled into multiple hotel rooms in pillowcases and bags, and when we couldn’t take him overseas, we had a doppelganger made (Stan), as a Dukey stand in. But what he really loved was camping.
He would secure, and patrol his territory from day 1. This would often entail our camp and whoevers camp we knew, that was camped nearby.
If there was a tent slightly unzipped, or even better, a swag out in the open, he was in there. He would stay perfectly still all night, not alerting anyone to his comfy presence, but come sun up, he was full of beans, and would have everyone out of bed in a hurry. If you had him in your swag, his signature wake-up call was ear chewing.
We learnt early on that he was not to be left behind on boat trips, after he nearly drowned in the Marian weir swimming after us when he was only teeny tiny, this was also when he got his first life jacket.
Right till the end, wether we were skiing or fishing all day, he would hold his peeing until we hit land, then stand and pee for minutes. Frozen on the spot. He was great like that.
He loved so much to sleep in bags, and held no preference, from leather Lois Vutton, to Dan’s stinky old coal covered crib port. Open or closed, if there was a bag, he would sleep on it.
His eyes would simply shine when his girls got home from school, and there has never been a welcome home like he would give to us when we had been away.
He had a distaste/distrust for little boys, after some early eye poking in his younger days, and carried this to his grave. All bar one, who he developed a great love and grudging respect for.
He eventually ended up with 2 big pig dog sisters. He was chief babysitter for both when they were new, and reluctantly put up with their annoying ways, snuggling in when they eventually wore out. Hera and Luna loved him a great deal, with Luna being the closest to his heart. They would spend hours playing and carrying on, with Luna always letting Duke win. Throwing herself down in defeat like a pro wrestler whenever he would go for her throat. She kept him young.
The saying “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch” was written for our Dukey boy, and Dan always said if our big dogs had a heart half the size of his, we’d be laughing. He was tough as nails, and faster than given credit for. On one of our pig hunting trip he got loose seconds after the big dogs had been set on a big pig. Dan was off and running with the big dogs, the kids and I were off and running after Duke, who beat us all, and was on that pig before we could blink!
He survived unscathed, after all our hunting trips, and got to take all his pent up prowess out on Christmas beetles, his greatest foe. Watching him take down one of these babies was better than any pig hunt I have ever seen.
He loved cheese. Paws down his favourite food. He would pick apart a whole hot dog, only to first devour every small shred of grated cheese. It was always his treat, and an easy was for folks usually eyed suspiciously, to win his heart.
His last food was a small piece of cheese. Broke my heart to watch him eat it, in the disjointed, disoriented way, that sadly symbolised his last day with us.
There is probably a story for every tear I have for our boy. And that’s a lot. Trust me.
It broke my heart to watch him that last day. But we had moments when he was calm to sit and tell him everything we wanted to say. Mostly how much we loved him, and thankyou.
After 10 wonderful years we say goodbye.
Until we meet again Dukey boy, Dipladukas, Dukas, Dukestar, Doo Doo, Son.
You’re such a good boy.