About nine years ago, my husband and I stopped for snacks at a gas station in town on our way home. Little did I know I was about to meet a very special doggy guy… who would later save me.
A few months, a few more pounds, and a hundred baths after we got him from the gas station, he had settled in. During our first vet appointment, our vet informed us he had heartworms and it was likely advanced. He stated due to his age (approximately 8-10 years), he may not make it through the chemo-like procedure. We were very close by then and I knew I would do anything to save him.
After a couple of months of injections, whimpering nights, and a bunch of crate rest, he was awesome! His recovery was amazing! He was finally well enough to get fixed and we were eagerly waiting for the x-rays to show us he was heartworm free.
The vet called us in to go over the x-rays. We got the news we were so happy to hear; “Duke is heartworm free!!” …But there was something else he wanted to talk to us about. He said Duke’s heart was enlarged and his lungs had spots. He said there were so many adult-sized heartworms, they had destroyed a considerable amount of tissue. He stated that Duke also had CHF and would eventually develop a consistent cough that would need to be addressed later.
He also had more news.
He brought out the x-rays this time and informed us of his previous life. I cried. In front of strangers.
As I cried, he showed us the buckshot BBs lodged throughout Duke’s body, the 22 bullets in his abdomen and neck, his long-ago broken ribs, a shattered pelvis (long-healed crooked), and a leg broken in three places. I remember crying and as I looked down at him he was staring up at me, wagging his tail and eating treats from the vet tech. He wasn’t in pain, and I guess none of that mattered to him anymore – he’d found his home and I think he somehow knew nobody would ever hurt him again.
After a couple of years with Duke, we got into a routine. Outside our ranch we were inseparable. We walked around most every day exploring and feeding the animals, we did lunch drive-thrus together often, and when I left he would meet me halfway down the property and walk me up as I drove in.
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One particular day, I was in a hurry to get lunch in between two video conferences, so didn’t take Duke with me. As I raced out of the gates, I saw him in my rear view mirror walk down to the middle of the property to wait. I quickly ran to Bill Millers and while speeding home I didn’t notice someone following me as I turned in to the private drive. There are two other ranches connected to the private drive so we know everybody coming and going, but I had never seen this van before. It had no license plates and there was so much dirt on it I couldn’t see in the windows! I wasn’t in panic mode right away.
It wasn’t until after he passed both property entrances that I realized he didn’t belong there. I reached the end of the road and was in front of my gate as he pulled in behind me and just sat there. I was boxed in. I could see the man in the driver seat, he had on a cap and big sunglasses and JUST SAT THERE staring at me. I remembered seeing the van in the Bill Millers parking lot and then I started to panic. I rolled up the windows and locked the doors as I waited for him to back out and leave. Five long minutes, and he was still there inching up every so often. I called my husband.
While on the phone, he called the neighbors; both were not home and didn’t know the van. I saw him crack his door and then from under the gate Duke came out – barking and growling at the van. I have never seen him so angry. The guy closed the door and after a minute or so threw his van in reverse and speed out so fast I couldn’t see anything but dust. I ran out, opened the gate, grabbed Duke and sped home safely.
I didn’t leave the property alone without him for over a year. I don’t know if Duke saved my life, saved me from being hurt, or saved me from being served from the IRS. All I know is he was there for me like I was there for him.
Duke was an outdoorsy guy, he only wanted to come in if it was cold or rainy. He enjoyed exploring the property, chasing coyotes, hunting rabbits, and car rides. He loved his sibling dogs and tolerated one cat. We had eight years of full of love and loyalty.
Saying goodbye to Duke was one the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Story submitted by Jojo Huerta from San Antonio, Texas.
Duke’s story was originally shared on The Animal Rescue Site. Share your very own rescue story here!
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