A Tribute To Our Faithful Companion, Duke – December 2011 – 20th August 2023

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Duke at 8 weeks old | Credit: South East Dog Rescue

Duke came to us as a tiny rescue pup of ten weeks old. He’d been abandoned in a park with his sister on a cold winter’s day. The heroic folks at South East Dog Rescue in Kent took them in. We’ll never forget arriving home together with Duke. We found this tiny little mite, all brindle and brown with white-rimmed eyes, sitting by the dog bowl, before getting up and sitting beside the sack of food, then repeat. With each move, he’d fix us with a pleading stare. We got the message! 

Duke grew into the most adorable bundle of energy. During his early years, we could never tire him out. He loved going out. He loved coming home. He just loved life! 

From a tiny puppy, he grew into our ‘baby bear’: thirty-five kilos of fluff and affection. Everyone wanted to know what breed he was. The DNA test came back as a right mix of Rotty, Staffie, Alsatian, and anyone’s guess. All we knew was that he was the gentlest, friendliest dog we’d ever known. 

Although as strong as a tractor, his legs were a constant worry. Noel Fitzpatrick, the TV Supervet, saved him twice; at six months of age and three years when his front then back legs went consecutively. To Noel, we are forever grateful. 

We are also eternally grateful to everyone at Honey’s Real Dog Food who fed Duke for the best part of ten years. He loved his Honey’s meals. Honestly, he scoffed his first one with such gusto, if he could have written his own thank you note, he’d have sent a dozen!

Philip and his wife, Helen with dear Duke | Credit: Philip Lymbery

Duke was the centrepiece of our family. He was our reason, our routine, our baby boy. We had such adventures together in beautiful parts of the country like Norfolk, Scilly, and Mull. He was a waterdog, in and out of rivers whenever he could, and oh, how he loved the beach.

He became a bit of an ambassador for animal welfare charity, Compassion in World Farming, appearing in many videos, social media posts, and articles, not least in The Scotsman and Sunday Express. During lockdown, he’d join the festive ‘thank you’ meetings for all the team. He also became a central character in the book, Sixty Harvests Left, our farm hamlet walks together becoming an important part of the narrative. He also inspired passages about kinship toward other creatures. He’d sit happily with our rescue hens. He loved the forty cows in our neighbourhood. Duke and they would lick noses. In those moments of greeting, the line between cow and dog would blur. Their bonding was beautiful.

Despite a lifetime of problems with his legs, it was severe kidney failure and a cancerous mass that would lead to his calling over the rainbow bridge. We are heartbroken. But feeling blessed at having had four more precious weeks with him receiving palliative care. And touched profoundly by more than eleven years with the gentlest and most warm-hearted of souls. His affectionate spirit lives on. He will remain forever in our hearts. 

Helen and Philip Lymbery
11th September 2023

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