The passing of Mr. Duke the Blue Merle Collie: A good dog, a friend that has gone

Mr. Duke | Judson Phillips
Mr. Duke | Judson Phillips

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2014 – Duke, you were such a good boy. But in the beginning, Duke was not Duke. He was Troy.

Born a beautiful Blue Merle Collie, his future was to be as a show dog. But fate changed that. At only a few weeks old, he was diagnosed as a carrier for collie eye anomaly. While he did not suffer from it, he could not be allowed to breed and pass the gene along.

Since a neutered dog cannot be a show dog, his future became that of a pet. But the breeder did not want an additional pet, so he put Troy up for sale.

My wife always wanted a Blue Merle Collie. I always wanted a German Shepherd.   We were going to get a second dog to go along with our Labrador Retriever. In the best spirit of matrimonial bliss, we compromised.

We got both.

Troy came to us but we decided he needed a new name. Troy became Duke, named after John Wayne.

He had come from a house with no children and came to a house with children, including two boys under three. Duke became the boys’ protector, sleeping in their room at night. He would wander the house looking for the boys, making sure they were herded up.

One day, he was out in the front yard, playing with the children when a meter reader came into the yard. Duke immediately herded the children up, put himself between them and the meter reader and raised the alarm.

Duke was supposed to be my wife’s dog and the German shepherd was supposed to be mine. The funny thing is, the dogs had a different idea. The shepherd bonded with my wife and Duke bonded with me.

Duke had many good years with us, but time eventually catches up with all dogs.  Two years ago, we noticed he was starting to have a little trouble walking. It wasn’t bad but it slowly got worse.

Duke had arthritis but he fought it.  As this summer dawned on us, Duke began to have more trouble walking. We had to carry him up and down the stairs.

Then a couple of days ago, Duke collapsed. He had fought as long and as hard as he could, but now could fight no longer. We hoped for a miracle, but when Duke could no longer walk, we realized his time had come.

The skies had opened up and it was pouring rain as I carried Duke to the car for the final time. Duke never liked riding in the car and would try to keep from being put into a car. When he was about a year old, I had him in my Jeep Wrangler and took him to the pet store. It was summer so the top was down on my Jeep.

As I pulled into the parking lot, Duke decided he had enough and tried to jump out.  Fortunately I had tied his leash to the seat. Duke hung over the edge of the door for a moment until I could rescue him.

I thought about that incident that we had laughed about over the years as I slid Duke into the car. That summer Duke’s future was measured in years.

Now it was measured in minutes.

He took his last trip to the vet’s office. We lay on the floor and he was given the shot. He looked so tired. He took a couple of breaths and was gone.

People who have had near death experiences say they have not only seen loved ones on the other side, but also beloved departed pets. I don’t know if that is true or not. Theology is far above my pay grade.

I find it hard to believe that God would have created a creature as magnificent as the dog and not allowed a future for them in the life to come.

Tonight my boys sleep in a room without Duke watching over them.

I’m still looking around, expecting to see Duke in some of his favorite places.  He is gone but will always be loved.

“Mr. Duke, you were a very good boy.”

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Judson Phillips is the founder of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest Tea Party Groups in the country and the number one national tea party site on the Internet. A lawyer by profession, Judson has been involved in politics since his teens. “Ronald Reagan inspired me,” he says. Judson became involved in the Tea Party movement in February 2009 after hearing Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC. “I heard there was going to be a Tea Party in Chicago inspired by Santelli, but didn’t know if anyone was doing a rally in Nashville where I was based. Finally I emailed Michelle Malkin and asked her if there was a Tea Party in Nashville. Malkin sent an email back saying, ‘No, why don’t you organize one?’ I did.” The first Tea Party in Nashville was held late February 2009 which drew a crowd of about 600. Judson then organized the Tax Day Tea Party in Nashville, which drew over 10,000 people into downtown. It was at this time that Tea Party Nation was formed. Later that year, Judson decided to bring activists from across the country together, so he organized the first National Tea Party Convention in February 2010, which featured Alaska’s former Governor and Republican Vice Presidential Nominee, Sarah Palin as it’s keynote speaker. He currently manages the Tea Party Nation website, writes several daily columns and is working on more projects than any one person should. He is a frequent guest on cable and broadcast news shows, including on Fox, MSNBC, CNN and others.
  • Judson, this is a wonderful tribute to Duke. What a handsome boy. Our beloved dogs are with us for far too short a time. We love them so we grieve for them. Dogs are all that is good in this world. I cannot imagine life without them. I love my two rescued Boxers as I have loved all the dogs that came before them, and hope to love more before my days on Earth are over.