“Dukie’s” Dog Park

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The origin of the dog park project and the formation of Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus circles back to my Newfoundland, Dukie. I simply wanted an off leash space for him to play with other dogs. Over time I realized that the dog loving community would also benefit from this socialization. Yesterday, our Dukie passed away. Here is my tribute to my best friend, Dukie.

Dukie McCarthy
10/16/10 – 2/20/16
Rest in peace my most darling and best friend, Dukie, age 5, 4 months young.

I cherished every minute we had with him—he was magnificent. Dukie was my muse. He was the reason I got involved in a dog park project for Canandaigua. I never would have taken on this advocacy. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me. I never would have interacted with the HUNDREDS of amazing dog lovers in or near this city if not for him. Whatever the title may be, to me, it was always Dukie’s Dog Park.  350+ supporters can thank him, not me, for getting as far as we have.

Looking back, we learned the hard way that our “good deal” on a Newfoundland puppy meant that Dukie was not bred soundly yet I wouldn’t have traded this incredible dog for any other. Anyone who had the pleasure of meeting our dog will understand. Dukie literally stopped traffic and won hearts over time and time again. He was physically beautiful, majestic with a gentle and loving spirit. He loved me, Brian and Robbie and we loved him.

He was also quirky and goofy. Literally smacking his lips as I served him dinner, shoving his whole massive head in the freezer searching for his after-dinner frozen Kong, lumbering over when he heard a cold cuts package opening to be a “sandwich helper,” resting his head between my knees for ear rubs and a head hug, picking up a bone and parading with it when my husband came home from work or a favorite friend came to visit. Polite, too, wouldn’t go upstairs or leave the deck without an invitation! He was patient with Vivi, our female rescue Newf, who adored him and crowded him and tolerant of the cats…

He was my love, the best patient ever. Obedient and cooperative as I, and others, cared for his numerous health issues through the years.

The peculiar command to “spa” (as in spa treatment) would send him flopping on his side so I could attend to his various afflictions and maintenance: ears, teeth, paw care, topical skin treatments, brushing, stretching, icing. His medical team was amused at the useful and unusual “spa” command, amazed and awed at how compliant he was. And we had quite a team. Dr. Smith and staff at Canandaigua Vet Hospital, Randi his groomer and his love, Melissa Cocola his rock star trainer and Creekside Resort owner and her caring staff, especially Kristin, Cornell doctors and the Theravet team. Plagued with serial and singular health events (multiple skin allergies, cancer, and an unusual skeletal conformity–or deformity depending on how you look at it—which significantly contributed to serious knee, wrist and hock issues), his health maintenance became a part time job for me. I cannot count the vet and specialist visits and the associated costs. I am grateful that I was able to give him that time and our family could support the financial and emotional madness.

After one major surgical repair of Dukie’s right knee this past summer, his left knee got worse, then his front legs which could not bear the brunt. His gait was painful to watch, limping and all four legs turned out like a duck–he had become “unfixable.” More recently, he would not walk distances, had serious trouble getting up and standing, he was on three different pain meds and slept most of the time. This brought us to the gut-wrenching decision to do the kind thing and put him down before he literally couldn’t stand up on his own four paws. I am deeply grateful to our vet Dr. Steve Smith who came to our house to relieve our boy of his earthly pain and let him run freely over Rainbow Bridge. My lovable mutt Sheena and Brian’s loving Newf, Jedi, are waiting for him on the other side.

Anyone who is an animal lover knows how pets enrich our lives in a myriad of ways. Animal lovers also know how painful it is to say good-bye. This is where I am: emotionally and physically exhausted from propping my boy up day after day after day after blessed day…

Thank you all for indulging my tribute. Thank you for loving my Dukie. I, and my family, his “sister” Vivi and even our cats (especially Kimba), will miss him so much. I realize that in the grand scheme of things, our Dukie’s passing doesn’t seem especially tragic when compared with some of the other life-changing events–the serious illnesses and loss of many people we love. But, to us, Dukie is a member of our family and we mourn him in kind.

He was an amazing and loving friend, truly The Best Dog Ever. Run free, my love. Dukie, we’ve given you all we have and you have given us all that back and more. “Mommy” loves you always… xoxo
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