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I was never what one would call a "dog person".  I was raised on 7 acres and my parents would get the occasional dog, but they were never allowed inside and their stays with us were brief.  Their lives were claimed by the occasional passing by horse or the garbage truck on an icy winter day.

My parents got a cat or two, but at some point, we would go on a Sunday drive and they would "drop" the cat off at the curb of some farm saying that they would be much happier there.

I was a small child and so I took these things in stride.  I trusted my parents and so I never really learned the value and the magic of owning a dog or cat.

That changed twelve years ago.  When I got divorced, I had four children ranging in age from pre-adolescence to full blow teenagehood.  I found a 100-year old farmhouse on 2 acres in Boulder and knew I had to get a dog for the sake of my children who were going through the difficult transitions that were necessary when their father and I were no longer married.

We got Duke, the Perfect Golden Retriever Dog as a young puppy.  I was crazy busy at the time and my children hovered over him as if they had found precious water in the middle of the Sahara desert.  Duke helped to heal their hurting hearts and he quickly became a treasured family member.

As the years wore on and my children left, it became a home for Duke, my husband and myself.  Because of my childhood history, I had to be taught that dogs were interested in more than food and hikes.  Over the years, Duke turned me into a “dog person” as he taught me unconditional love as he always seemed to know when I needed an extra bit of comfort and care.  

At the age of twelve, Duke passed away this summer.  It was sudden, unexpected and sadder than I can begin to express.  I cannot write any more because in many ways, my heart continues to break.

Duke, the Perfect Golden Retriever Dog  

Good friends, dog owner friends, insisted we get another dog as soon as possible.  This seemed unimaginable and insensitive to me.  But the loneliness of our property and the ache in our hears when we would arrive home void of the greeting and smile of Duke the Perfect Golden Retriever was almost unbearable.

Puppy Maximus AKA Max came into our lives the end of August.  My two daughters, who had been grieving terribly for Duke, came with me to meet Max before we could bring him home.  

Ah, I never truly appreciated the sweet smell of puppy love.  Max jumped all over us, let us hold him like a baby, licked our faces with, I swear, a broad smile on his face.  Our hearts felt hopeful and new.  

Daughter Cassie feeling the love

A happy Puppy Max on daughter Kellie’s lap  


Me and Max...let the healing begin  

We brought Max home a week later and he became my constant companion.  He's loving, sweet, playful and mischievous.  My daughters, who live nearby, come to the house frequently to get their fix of puppy love and we can't imagine our lives without him.

We took him to the Pearl Street Mall one early autumn evening last week.  The mall was crowded with Boulderites enjoying being out and about before the onset of cold and winter that could come at any time.

You would have thought Max was Brad Pitt.  Seriously.  We were mobbed, we could barely move an inch without hearing someone say, "Oh my God!  Look at that puppy!  Oh please, please can I pet your puppy?"  Newborn babies in strollers couldn't compete for their attention.  Max was an instant celebrity and he lapped up every second of it.

It didn't matter the age, race, or gender.  I was astounded to see the immediate softening of people's faces as they saw us walking towards them with Max.

What is this power?  This puppy love thing?  Is it their innocence?  Their curiosity?  Their playfulness?  Their joy at rolling around in the grass just because it feels good?  Their openness and curiosity?  Their loving nature?  I'm still learning but puppies seem to bring out the best in us, melting our hearts and reminding us that the simple things in life are what matter most.

The morning after Duke died, my husband and I walked outside.  There  in the bushes in front of our home were two happy face balloons tied together that had blown in from parts unknown.  Did Duke know his life was coming to a close?  Was it an encouragement from him to "don't worry, be happy"?  Was it a message from him that there would soon be another who would slap silly grin smiles on our faces?  

I wouldn't be surprised.   Getting Max didn't make me stop missing Duke.  But Duke was an excellent teacher and his unconditional love and loyalty will always stay with me and for that, I am humbly grateful.

Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Oct 12, 2010
    • Your blog brought a smile and tears to my eyes. I too was never a dog person, but when I saw Stoli he stole my heart.

      No one will ever replace Duke, but Max too will  have a special place in your heart and juding from the pics he already has. In time thinking of Duke will be just a bit easier, perhaps because you will feel that even though he is gone you can still feel his presence...

      I love reading your blogs, thank you for sharing.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Vikki Hall wrote Oct 12, 2010
    • Oh that did bring a tear to my eyes.....

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Rose Nino wrote Oct 12, 2010
    • What a BEAUTIFUL  story. I cried for hours. Thank you for sharing. It brought back so many memories. Oh, and the pictures are awesome!  

      Hugz heartheart

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