Last weekend was a rough one for the Topp family as we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Duke, who arrived at T-T Ranch nearly 12 years ago. Unfortunately, we learned earlier this summer that he was suffering from cancer. It seems silly to be so distraught over the loss of an animal, but after so many years together he really was a member of our family. The funny thing is, we never should’ve had Duke (or any of our dogs) in the first place. Since we live so close to a major road, Dad never wanted us to have dogs growing up, but a family friend surprised us with a Golden Retriever puppy in 1991 and we’ve had a dog at the farm ever since (thanks, uncle Ron!).
Duke was extra special to me, because I convinced dad we should get another dog after our dog Chance died from a rare infection (we weren’t supposed to get another one, but Dad always said I should be a lawyer!). I remember looking on the internet and scouring through classified ads in the newspaper, until I found a listing for Golden Retriever puppies. I still remember going with dad to pick up Duke – one of many special father-daughter outings we’ve had over the years.
Each of our dogs were true farms dogs (not inside pets), but as long as they were clean, there were two places in the house that they could be – on the rug in the office or front entryway. As Duke got older, mom would sometimes let him lay on a rug in the kitchen, and when Rami and Jason moved into the farm house they took over loving and spoiling our aging pup. Duke spent most of his days in the back of dad’s pickup, going with him wherever he went. Dad could spend all day at the elevator or be in the field for hours, but Duke always patiently waited for him – he loved rides in the pickup. In the winter, when it was too cold to go with dad and too cold to be outside for very long, Duke kept mom company in the office. When it was really hot, he would go to the shop, otherwise you could find him on the deck or laying by the office door. Whenever I would return from college or for the weekend, he was always there to greet me and get as much loving as he could before I had to leave.
There are a few things that Duke loved most of all – pickup rides with dad, sitting in the office with mom, table scraps and snow. And he loathed cats and thunderstorms – I’d never seen him run faster than when he spotted a cat wandering across the yard!
It seems silly to be so sad over the loss of a dog, when so many tragic things are going on in our state, nation and world. However, Duke truly was a member of our family. We each have many fond memories of Duke, and I am forever grateful that my dad caved and let us get him. As hard as it was to say goodbye, we are thankful that he is no longer in pain. The farm isn’t quite the same without our “puppy Duke.”