This is a story I wrote about my husband’s beloved Pitbull, Duke earlier this year. I was going to enter it in the Bloom Magazine fiction contest but I didn’t.
I have a few pictures of him on Flickr. There aren’t many because my access to him is limited (because he would kill me if I got too close) but they show the gentle side that my husband saw in him.
The man and the woman call me Duke, sometimes Dukie, sometimes Dukie-boy. Right now I’m standing in my backyard and the man is saying “pooh pooh Dukie.” I’m not ready to do that just now. A bird flies past and I watch it. I sniff at the grass and then I scratch my belly with my back foot. The man says “pooh pooh Duke!” a little more sternly now. But I still don’t want to. I’m contemplating the wind when the woman walks out. I look at her as she waves and says “hi Dukie.” She walks over and sits by the man and I sniff the grass.
Soon I’ll have to go back to the garage. I live in the garage, not inside the house like a normal dog. The man says that I’m dangerous but I don’t think I am. When we lived at the other house with that other woman and her kids I had the run of the house. I got along with the woman, the kids, and even the cat. We were one big happy family. The man got me when I was a puppy. Me and my mom and all of my brothers and sisters were in a small yard and the man picked me up, put me into the front seat of his truck and drove me home. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to anyone. I hope they’re all okay.
When the man and I got to my new home he brought me into the house and held me up in front of the woman. She looked at me and said “What is that?” The man said “It’s a surprise. It’s a pit bull puppy. I went down to Mitchell and bought him.” The woman sighed, “Another animal? We can’t take care of another animal!” The man laughed. “Of course we can,” he said. The woman turned and walked out of the room. I licked the man’s face.
The woman warmed up to me after a few days. She didn’t play with me like the man and the kids did but she gave me scraps from the table and petted me a little. It was her idea to call me Duke. I liked the name because it sounded strong and I was strong. When I played with the kids I would run at them and bowl them over onto the living room floor. They would laugh and run and tackle me and we’d play until it was time for me to go outside or for them to take a nap. The woman didn’t like when I knocked the kids down. She would yell at me when I did and that made me feel bad so I tried not to do it as much.
I started to get bigger but I still liked to play. Sometimes people I didn’t know would come to the house. When they sat down I would jump onto their laps and try to get to know them by licking and smelling. The woman didn’t like this. She would yell at me and put me out of the house or even worse put me in my pet porter where I would sit and look out wondering what I did wrong. I began to hope that no people would come into the house from outside because that meant being locked up.
The man and the woman started having arguments and then they stopped talking to each other and then the woman and the kids and the cat left the house and didn’t come back. I was glad the woman and the cat left but I missed the kids. From now on it would be just me and the man. If anyone knocked at the front door I would bark and growl hoping they would leave. Once the man let someone in and I knew he had probably made a mistake so I rushed toward the outsider growling and bearing my teeth. We didn’t want anyone coming into the house did we? To my surprise the man yelled at me. He said “Duke, what are you doing?” in the loudest angriest voice I had ever heard him use. He grabbed my collar and pulled me into my pet porter. I was locked up again and I didn’t understand why but I could see that when someone came to the house it meant I would be locked up even if the woman didn’t live there anymore. I knew I didn’t like people, except for the man. He was my friend.
So that’s the way it was. The man and I lived in the house and if someone came to visit I got locked up. One day the man started bringing boxes home and he started putting things in the boxes. I didn’t understand what was going so I just watched and waited. One cold morning the man started loading boxes into his truck and then he put me in the front seat. I thought maybe we were going to the veterinarian’s office and I didn’t like that idea one bit so I started to whine. The man said “Don’t worry Dukie. We’re going to our new home in Bloomington. We’re going to live in a house with your new Mommy! I hope you can be nice to her.”
I wasn’t sure what he had said but his voice was soothing so I curled up on the seat and went to sleep. The truck stopped and I woke up. I looked out the window and saw houses with grass in front of them and trees and pavement and then I saw a woman. She was walking toward the truck. She was different from the other woman but I knew I wouldn’t like her. She wasn’t the man so with her here I would probably soon be locked up.
That was a long time ago. The man and the woman live in the house and I live in the garage. I’m allowed in the house too but the woman can’t be there. If she goes to work or goes shopping I can come in and spend time with the man. The man once tried to get me to be nice to the woman. We were all in the living room. I was by the man’s side and on a leash. The woman was sitting on the other side of the room. She said nice things to me and I sat calmly and looked at her. She kept moving her chair closer and closer to me and that made me nervous and I uttered my most threatening growl so she backed up and said more nice things. This went on for a long time. Every time the woman moved closer I would growl. She even tried to give me a chewy treat but I ignored the treat and barked at her. I held my ground until the man gave up and took me back to the garage.
So that was that. Now I’m here in the backyard with the man saying “pooh pooh Dukie.” I know that if I don’t pooh pooh I won’t be able to come into the house and take a nap with the man; I’ll be stuck in the garage but I just can’t do it. Not with the woman sitting there staring at me. And then the woman gets up and goes back into the house and the man walks over to me with disappointment on his face and leads me back into the garage. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.