I am not crazy about dogs. I like dogs okay, but they are stinky, over friendly, and mostly a pain in the neck. They chew things up. They get in the trash. They kill cats, other dogs, and people sometimes. They run away, chase cars, chase cattle. Dig holes. They jump up with muddy paws and always want to lick people. After seeing all the things a dog will eat, licking is OUT - forever!
Of course, not all dogs have all of these bad habits. Duke only has a few: stinky, over friendly, jumps up with muddy feet, and wants to lick. I know it's good dog manners to lick friends and family but no thanks, Duke.
I almost forgot - Duke will chew up anything a delivery man leaves on the front porch. From Duke's perspective, ever so often a guy randomly drives right to his front porch with a strange present, especially for him.
Over the years Duke and I have learned how to communicate with one another fairly well. Watching Caesar Milan, the dog whisperer, on National Geographic has helped me speak Duke's language much clearer. But BC (before Caesar) Duke had to figure out for himself whatever I was wailing about. I normally only have four words for him.
Duke jumps up on me and I yell "*<*#@$^#@, DUKE!". I come home to find the trash scattered across the yard, Duke hears: "*<*#@$^#@, DUKE!" I can not find him and he hears: "Duuuuuuuuuke! Duuuuuuuuuuke! *<*#@$^#@, DUKE!" He eyes the chickens and he hears: "DUKE!" Sometimes he hears: "DUKE, <*##@$^#@!" Somehow, he always gets the idea.
His communication is expressive and full of joy. He still bounds into the air beside me, joyous that I am home again. Unlike the horses, he is genuinely glad to see me even if I am not bringing food. He loves to run through the tall prairie grass, flop over at speed, then wriggle around on his back, growling in delight. He does this same maneuver in snow. One of the funniest things the old Dukemeister does is a dog smile. His bottom front teeth are visible. This is always accompanied by extreme wagging of the entire rear end, even if he is sitting down.
I have never known a being as happy as Duke. He trots around the farm on his dog business, barking at things I can not see, hear or smell - except for the skunks. His first order of business each day is to make the rounds to mark his territory. This is necessary business because Duke is outnumbered by coyotes by about a thousand to one.
He is a Heinz 57 breed: German Shepherd, Chow, and probably some Golden Retriever. He has big round feet on stocky legs and he weighs about 80 pounds. Since he has always been free to run and roam, he is very strong. He looks after his farm with a mighty heart -- he is the heart of the farm. He is my constant companion whenever I do anything outdoors, always here to greet me when I come home. I do not know how I was so lucky to be blessed with such a good dog.