posted in: Dog Hotel Blog | 0

I have had a lot of firsts in just a few short months; A first warm bed, a warm meal, hugs and kisses, freedom to be me and feeling safe, not having to scavenge for food, and lots of new friends.As luck would have it, I also fell in love for the very first time.

His name was Duke Barker.

He was so handsome with the gentlest eyes and the softest tongue. The one and only Duke!


Duke came to us very scared and unsure. He was supposed to go to a faraway land with his family, but at the airport the officials said his passport was no good, and he was sent away. He didn’t get to say goodbye to his family, someone came to get him, and took him to the house next door of where he used to live; he desperately wanted to go home and looked through the fence all the time, barking at his family to come get him, but no one came. The house was empty and the garden where he used to run around was deserted. He became very sad and our Friend Pebbles’ mom called Duke’s mom and told her she was going to bring Duke to us.

“He’s a cool dude!” is all Pebbles said when I asked what Duke’s like. “And he likes swimming!” Pebbles said with enthusiasm and said that he has known Duke for a long time and often had visits with him in the past.


When Duke arrived, we were all excited! Pebble’s and I were waiting at the gate, but our excitement was short lived. Duke wasn’t in the mood for chit chat and went to his room and just sat on the porch. He didn’t want to speak to anyone and when we asked him if he was OK he just turned his head not to look at us and stared into nothing.


The day progressed like any normal December day, with running and barking and playing and then, when we were all tired, mom would bring all the guests their dinner. She made sure everyone ate their dinner, and always add some chicken stew with yummy veggies. Duke didn’t want to eat. Mom sat with him, brushing him and playing with his ears, scratched his chest and eventually said to him: “Dukie, you must eat boy!” and so he did! He loved the chicken so much that mom took his bowl and got him some seconds. After that he went straight to bed. He slept until the sun came up the next morning. After his first night with us, he started talking to me and Pebbles and we played the whole day.


Days went by and Dukie settled in more and more. Days become weeks and weeks became a month. Pebbles went home after about two weeks of Dukie being with us, and we were sad so see him go. Duke loved lying in the pond under the running water and mom wondered out loud whether we would have enough time before he had to leave to build him a proper big pool.

We didn’t care though, during the day we would play, until it got too hot, then we would sleep on my porch under the big tree while the cool wind carried away the heat. Late afternoon we loved chasing the horses when they ran past to their stables, and then Duke would run past all the other guests screaming: “Dinner! Dinner! Dinner!”

Mom always gave us our dinner last and would then sit with us for after dinner cuddles.


When we had our after-dinner cuddles mom would talk to us about things that happened that day, and she would tell Duke every night: “One of these days you are going to have to be a very brave boy. You are going home to your family, but to get there will be difficult and it will take a long time. Me and Annie can’t go with you, but whenever you get scared, just close your eyes and pretend you are here with us. Pretend Annie is lying next to you and you can hear her snore. Pretend you just had dinner and you are having your tummy scratched, but most of all, pretend I just told you we love you.”

Duke would always lick mom’s hand when she told him that and she would give us both big hugs and tell us to be good and sleep well.


And so, the day came where Duke had to leave. Mom sat with us longer than usual the previous night and told Duke that his journey was to start the next day and came earlier than usual in the morning to wake us up. She gave us breakfast and gave Duke some extra chicken and some liver bread. We sat on my porch until a man came with a white van. Mom put Duke’s collar on him, and cried so much, her tears fell on his head. I licked him, and said: “So long Duke, I am going to miss you forever.” I felt sad. Duke licked me back and licked mom a lot!

Mom walked with him to the van and allowed me to go with. Duke jumped into a big wooden box in the van and mom kissed him goodbye one last time. I jumped up and kissed him too. The man came and closed the box so we could only see Duke’s face. One last time Duke shouted: “I love you Annie!” before the man closed the door of the van.


After the van left mom and I sat on the step outside the office and she cried a lot. Dad came and brought us some coffee and said to mom that everything will be OK and she should stop crying. She hugged me tight while drinking her coffee and after that we started preparing breakfast for all the guests. It was a quiet morning, with no one running around shouting “Breakfast!” to wake all the guests up.


Two days later mom told me that Dukie has landed in a faraway place I have never heard of, and that he was safe. He still couldn’t see his family for two weeks after that, but once we got the news that he was home we were so excited! Mom gave all the guests liver bread with cottage cheese frosting to celebrate.


With mom’s help we put a picture up for me of Duke and me. I look at it often and wonder if he remembers me. I am sure he does! He might be romping around the beaches of Brisbane, but I know, when he goes to sleep at night, he remembers the late-night chats and secret parties we had for the time he stayed with us.


We are forever friends.


Annie and Duke having their nightly chats
Dukie Barker at Breakfast
Being Brave – on his way to Australia
Lounging under the aircon with Annie