Golden Retriever Dog Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I know this is an abnormally long post. Please forgive me. I wrote this almost twenty years ago. I wrote it so I would not forget as time passed. I can't believe it is almost twenty years ago:

LUKE
For some reason, Luke was always afraid of thunderstorms. Usually he slept at our feet on the bed, but during a thunderstorm he would sleep on my wife’s pillow. His front legs would be on one side of her head and his back legs on the other side. When he was a puppy, it was pretty funny. As he grew to over sixty pounds, it wasn’t funny to her, but she let him sleep that way during storms anyway, because he was our only baby boy. I still thought it was pretty funny.
Two days ago I buried our dog.
Last night we had the first thunderstorm of the Spring. It was difficult thinking of Luke out there by himself as the thunder rolled across the sky, but his old age deafness is now complete, and his whimpers of fear have been stilled.
In the Fall of 1979, my new wife and I were trying to begin our new lives together. Like most newlyweds, we did not have a lot of extra money to spend frivolously. We bought a used mobile home on a small wooded lot near campus to live in while we finished college. Mother Nature provided us with some “mad money” by blowing an old oak tree over onto a metal shed in our back yard. Being newlyweds, we had no lawn mower or gardening tools, so we didn’t need the shed anyway. Rather than replace the unneeded shed, we used the $300 the insurance company paid us to buy a little bundle of yellow fur.
We didn’t want to get just any “run of the mill” dog. I had always wanted a really good registered dog, so we searched around and found a kennel about 125 miles away that had high quality, registered Goldens. We drove to a place a little distance outside of St. Louis and picked out a male puppy, or rather, he picked us. A golden retriever puppy we named “Luke”. Officially, his name was “Lucas of Marble Creek”. At least on the AKC papers. One of the ancestors in Luke’s bloodline was a Golden that Gerald Ford had while he was in the White House.
On the ride home, Luke behaved like an angel. He curled up in my wife’s lap for the entire trip and slept. Five miles from his new home, Luke got up, walked over to me while I was driving, stood with his front feet on my left leg and his back feet on my right, and urinated all over my lap.
Although we didn’t know it at the time, Luke would soon become the equivalent of our first child. He went everywhere we did, slept in bed with us, went on vacations and to relative’s homes for the holidays with us, and in every sense became a member of the family.
My wife and I improved our photography skills with the little, round, yellow, ball of fur, but he too soon grew out of the puppy stage and into that long, lean gawky young dog stage. All legs and chaotic motion. A neighbor had a St. Bernard that became Luke’s main canine companion. When the St. Bernard came to our yard, Luke would run full speed and dive headlong into him. Every time it happened, Luke would knock over a dog that was three times his size. They would wrestle and slobber on each other for hours.
The first time I took him to the local pond to try his swimming skills, I laughed so hard I almost choked. He jumped in to fetch a stick I had thrown, and his front feet slashed at the surface, splashing water into his face. The more he splashed, the more he thrashed at the surface to keep the water out of his face. It took a few tries, but he eventually learned to keep his front feet down low, push his head as far forward as he could, and pull hard with those strong, tireless legs. Before long, he was swimming like a pro and loved the water. He could spend hours fetching sticks in the pond at the little city park near our house.
The little park also held another of his particular fascinations. Squirrels. Anytime Luke saw a squirrel on the ground, it was a footrace to see who could get to the tree first. As he grew up, he got faster. The squirrels had less and less time to get up the tree before his arrival. After he treed the squirrel, he could easily be called away. He never barked at them. He never caught one. And he gave up on the game after he reached the tree and I said, “Luke, come.” It was as though he new it was just a game. He didn’t seem like he really wanted to harm them.
Luke lived a different life than a lot of dogs. When we went places in the old days, Luke came along. He went on vacations with us to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, many different places in the Ozarks of Missouri, as well as our families and friends homes. I used to do a lot of backpacking, and Luke was excellent company on backpacking trips. I can still see him now, running ahead, scouting the trail until he was out of sight, and then coming back to a point where he could see me. He always had the same quizzical look on his face. He looked like he was thinking, “Come on, what’s taking so long?” When I would catch up, he would tear off down the next section of trail until he was out of sight, and repeat the process. He never had to be told to stay nearby. He never had to be told to leave the deer alone. The only animals he ever chase were his friends, the squirrels, except for one run-in with a woodchuck at the Big South Fork. We were camping there and Luke came upon the woodchuck out in an open field. Luke held the woodchuck at bay until I could photograph it up close. Then I called Luke to me as I walked away. He just trotted over to my side while the woodchuck escaped.
When we weren’t outside, Luke was in the house with us. He spent a lot of his puppy days chewing on furniture, shoes, and the brand new copy of Leonard Lee Rue’s book The Deer of North America that I just purchased. I still enjoyed the book, in spite of the chewed corners. I have since purchased the revised version of Rue’s book, but I still cherish the first copy because of the chewed corners.
Like most dogs, Luke loved to have his ears rubbed. When I would start to rub the side of his head with my knuckles, he would lean his entire body into my hand and his eyes would roll back in his head. He could continue the activity a lot longer than I could.
Like a lot of other dogs, he loved ice cubes. I f anyone asked, “Luke, do you want an ice cube?” he would run to the refrigerator and wait until someone got one out and threw it to him. He would jump on it, toss it around, and chew it to small pieces. It never took long to eat one, and then he was ready for another. He also loved to ride in the car. If anyone said, “Do you want to go for a ride in the car?”, he would run to the front door and spin around in circles. The running would commence as soon as he heard the word “car”. It got to the point where we had to spell the word C-A-R in conversations to avoid getting Luke excited inadvertently.
He learned two tricks in his youth, besides the standard sit, shake, roll over, play dead. He learned the command, ”Shake it, Luke!” When he heard that, he would shake a wad of socks so fast it was a blur. The other trick he learned, I still can’t figure out how we taught him, or how it got started in the first place. Luke would growl on command. He would shake hands with his right paw, then his left, then both paws, and when I would say, “Growl”, he would bare his teeth and growl like he was about to go into battle with a grizzly bear. He sounded like he wanted to kill, but if I put my hand in his mouth, he realized his bluff had been called and he would quit growling and go back to playing.
He always liked to swim and fetch sticks, and he always liked ice cubes, so it was inevitable that one day we would combine the activities. My family owned some land in the Ozarks along a clear, cold stream called Marble Creek (hence, Duke’s official AKC name). On vacation there one winter, we woke up with about nine inches of snow on the ground. It wasn’t very cold. It was one of those warm, wet, heavy snows. The creek was still flowing and unfrozen. I don’t think the air temperature was even below freezing. We took Luke down to the creek. Actually, he led (as usual), running ahead, then waiting for us to catch up. At the edge of the creek, we made snowballs and threw them out into the swimming hole. Luke splashed in after them and fetched snowballs from that cold water. How he could do that without freezing to death is beyond me, but it never seemed to bother him. I guess all that long, thick, yellow fur was a lot better insulation than it looked.
We moved to the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee so I could continue graduate school in Wildlife Management, and I found a nice little stream like the one on my families’ land in the Ozarks. I learned to fish, as a young man, by wading in the shallows and fishing the deep pools of small, clear, rocky streams. This little plateau stream fit the bill perfectly. It was a long, clear stream with plenty of smallmouth bass, bluegills, and rock bass. The plateau stream had the added advantage of having three nice waterfalls along the stretch I fished. When I would go fishing by myself, I would often bring Luke. As usual, he would always run ahead. Splashing along in the creek ahead of me would alert the fish in each pool before I could get there with my fishing pole, but Luke’s company was worth a few less fish caught.
When we moved to the Cumberland Plateau, we had to find a place to live, very quickly. I found a nice four-plex near campus, but the landlord did not allow dogs. I persuaded the landlord to let me keep Luke there by paying an extra ten dollars per month on the rent. But Luke had to spend most of the daytime outside on a chain. He became more of an outside dog than an inside one in his later years. We still took every opportunity to bring him inside, when the landlord was not around, and we always brought him inside at night to sleep in our bedroom with us.
In my final year of college, we had our first daughter. It was never a concern that Luke might hurt our child. The roughest he ever got was licking her face as she laughed. She would pull his tail and ears, and he just stood still and tolerated it. In every book I’ve ever seen about dogs, they always say Golden Retrievers are “good with children.” I don’t know about all Goldens, but if the rest of them treat kids like Luke treated Amy, the reputation is fully justified.
After graduating college, we moved to rural west Tennessee, got full-time jobs, and had another daughter. Raising two children and working made it difficult to spend the amount of time with Luke that he had been accustomed to. The last years of his life were not as action filled as the early ones. I feel bad about that now, but maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to work, because Luke began to slow down. His hearing started to go, he walked with stiffness, his face turned white, and he spent a lot of time sleeping.
We knew that his life was coming close to the end, but it was still a shock when my wife contacted me at work to tell me something was wrong with Luke. I took him to a vet and they did what they could. On the fourth day of his stay at the clinic, the vet came to the conclusion that Luke’s heart had worn out. He advised that the best thing to do was to end his suffering and put him to sleep. I didn’t want to do it, but I knew I had to be fair to my old friend and let him exit with dignity. The vet let me spend a couple minutes alone with him, to say goodbye. I picked up his paws and said, “Growl, Luke.” And he did.
My daughters and I picked up Luke’s body at the clinic while my wife was still at work. We buried him in the back yard before my wife got home. She wanted it that way because she was so upset over his death, she didn’t think she could handle being there for the burial. Before we buried him, we removed his collar and a lock of his hair. We put bricks flush to the ground around his grave and erected a cross. The cross simply says:

L


10/30/79 U 2/19/93


K


E


In my heart, I like to think that somewhere there is a place where Luke is fetching snowballs from a clear, cold creek; a place where a warm, loving hand rubs the side of his head whenever he wants it. If there is, I know he is running ahead, scouting the trail, and looking back to see what is taking us so long.
 

·
Dog Lover
Joined
·
42,038 Posts
What you wrote about your friend Luke was so beautiful it really has me choked up.

I sure that Luke is waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you wondering what is taking so long!

P.S. I hope you are sharing your life with another lucky Golden!
 

·
Dog Lover
Joined
·
42,038 Posts
Duke

Duke is a beauty and Steve it is so true what you said about Luke!!
 

·
Luke, Maggie, and Tucker
Joined
·
3,045 Posts
Luke was a handsome boy and very obviously your heart dog. Thank you for sharing your special bond with us.
 

·
& Sawyer's & Quinn's too!
Joined
·
2,740 Posts
Beautiful - I shouldn't read these things while I am at work! Tears for your memories....and my own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,263 Posts
A lovely touching tribute to Luke.

I am sure that he will be waiting patiently at the bridge
 

·
I miss my Buddy
Joined
·
11,531 Posts
It is beautiful tribute to Luke. You were blessed to have him in your life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
38 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Luke certainly ruined me when it comes to dog breeds. I doubt I will ever have a dog other than a golden.

As a matter of fact, since my daughter has moved to her new home, and taken Duke with her, my wife and I are looking to get a golden puppy next summer (when my wife is at home from teaching school). The house just seems empty without a golden in it.
 

·
Super Moderator Leader
Joined
·
47,808 Posts
The picture of Luke in front of the waterfall is breathing taking-he was a wonderful loving companion. Your tribute was so touching.

Good luck to you in your search for your next golden friend, I'm glad to see you will be opening your heart and home to one again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,826 Posts
I too, am wiping away the tears as I read your tribute to Luke. He was a beautiful boy....thank you for sharing that story...
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top