Friday, February 17, 2017

In Memory of Our Dog Duke


As we celebrate a special milestone of fifteen years in business this month, it's also a bittersweet milestone in that the last remaining mid-day dog walk we've had for the last fourteen years, Zinger (14), just passed away a couple of days ago, and now our own last remaining dog passed away as well.
Duke with sister Cali
Our beloved dog Duke passed away on Monday, February 13th, just a month and half away from his 15th birthday. He was doing really well up until just a few months ago when he started having some neurological type problem that was affecting his mobility, eventually leaving him unable to stand. His kidneys also had taken a sudden turn for the worse and were causing him discomfort.

We used Houston Mobile Vet for his last exam and bloodwork and they provided in home euthanasia also. (They are wonderful and I highly recommend them!) I am so grateful we now have the option of mobile vets who come to your home. Duke was able to be at home, in his comfy bed with us there petting him while he peacefully and painlessly passed away. 
Duke and Cali

Duke was the last of our four dogs and the sibling to Cali, who passed away from cancer four years ago. After living with three other dogs most of his life, and several cats, he ended up being the only dog for the last four years, of which I think he thoroughly enjoyed, though I'm sure he missed his sister and our other dogs. He had a friend that would come to stay with him on occasion that gave him some dog companionship which he enjoyed.

Our cats loved Duke, and he them. They are grieving and feeling his absence too.They would always run up to greet him before they would greet us. In fact, if Duke came in the room while they were getting pets from us, they would leave the pets to go rub on Duke. Often times I would hear our youngest cat Kilo in another room just talking away and when I looked, he would be talking to Duke, who was standing nearby. Duke was adored by his kitties!
Duke and Kilo

When Duke and his sister Cali first appeared on our ranch one cold January day in 2003, we thought he was a most unusual looking dog. We always got compliments on how pretty Duke was and were frequently asked what type of dog he was. In 2012, when they were ten years old, I had their DNA tested. They were found to be a mix of Chow Chow and Bluetick Coonhound. An interesting combination.You can see the resemblance of both breeds in them from the photos I shared here, especially Duke.

Each and every animal is unique and has certain qualities about them that make them special. Besides his physical appearance, one of Duke's unique characteristics was that he was a highly sensitive dog (HSD).

In the fields of biology, animal behavior and human psychology, research has found that a small percentage of the population -- about 20% -- of over one hundred different species of animals, as well as humans, have an innate characteristic which entails having a more sensitive nervous system than the rest of the population. They are labeled extra-sensitive, super sensitive or highly sensitive. Biologists say this has a survival advantage. Those that are highly sensitive are the first to sense danger and alert the rest of the group.

According to Dr. Elaine Aron, a psychologist who has been studying highly sensitive people (HSP) for over 20 years, there is now solid research from scientific studies done on the brain and genetic analysis showing that highly sensitive people have differences in their brain activity and process things differently, along with having a sensitive nervous system. HSPs process things more deeply, are easily overstimulated, have a sensitivity to subtleties and their environment, may be more sensitive to chemicals, as well as some other traits.
Duke with his friend Taz

This same innate characteristic has been studied extensively in rhesus monkeys at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland by Stephen Suomi, PhD. 

Research is being conducted on highly sensitive dogs in Switzerland by Dr. Maya Braem Dube, a veterinary behaviorist at the University of Bern, Switzerland. HSDs share many of the same traits as HSPs -- they can quickly read the mood in another animal or person, can pick up the scent of illness or the onset of a seizure before it occurs, heightened levels of awareness and sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, emotions of others and is also more likely to suffer from allergies, to name a few.

Duke was much more sensitive than our other three dogs in many regards. He was known as a "screamer" at our vet clinic but I knew it wasn't just about being a dog that's scared or a big baby, he was a HSD. How did I know this and discover all this research on such a thing? Because I am a HSP myself.

Duke taught me a lot about HSDs and about myself. He also left us with many wonderful and funny memories that we will always cherish. We will miss him terribly.