Dr. Duncanstein

Dr. Duncanstein

Our dog, Duncan, came into my life in 2006. I was at Ohio State for law school, and I sold my ticket to the OSU/Michigan game for enough to cover my rent and get a dog. I was so excited- I’d never had a dog before, and I was so excited to go pick him up in October when he was 10 weeks old.

Duncan was so tiny. He weighed 2 pounds and couldn’t really go upstairs by himself. He needed help getting on the couch, but looked amazing in argyle. He chewed everything to pieces- I lost a lot of good shoes to him. I also discovered about 9 months in that he has celiac disease. Oh, and he got seasonal allergies too. But he was so, so cute.

And his disposition has always been awesome. Duncan had this Napoleon complex and loved big dogs. I mean,  BIG. His best friend at the doggy daycare in Tremont was an English Mastiff named Finn, whose head probably weighed more than him. But Duncan was cool AF about it and never gave a second thought to size.

He loved finding the warmest spot in the house and laying there. He would sleep directly on top of the heater for hours during the winter. Or, he would find a bed and burrow deep under the covers or bury himself in the pillows.

Duncan’s favorite activity was always sleeping. Always. He loved to just sit and chill- when he was much younger, he would play more with toys, chase a ball, normal dog stuff- but even then, he was chill. If you have been to our house, Duncan has probably been on your lap. If there was a lap open, he wanted in. 

When I met Kirk, he told me flat out that he didn’t like small dogs. Duncan wasn’t the typical yippy small dog, but he wasn’t a big dog either. But because Duncan was so awesome, Kirk loved him right away. Also, I told Kirk that Duncan and I are a package deal so he had no choice anyway.

When I got pregnant and had Reid, I was really nervous about how Duncan would act around the baby. But of course, I shouldn’t have been. Duncan was the same chill dude that he’s always been- annoyed that my lap was now taken by somebody else, but he loved Reid.

Duncan and I have been through a lot in his almost 11 years. He’s been there through most of law school, 2 jobs, 2 houses, a wedding, and two babies. When I got my tonsils out during my second year of law school (who does that??), Duncan didn’t leave my side.

Over the past month, we noticed Duncan’s behavior was changing. He started having accidents in the house, which we figured was just him getting older. But these were concerning. Then he started waking up at night- we recently got central AC, so perhaps he was cold. But on Monday, I noticed his front left leg slipping a bit when he walked around a corner. I figured he took the corner too fast on the hardwood. Tuesday his gait became wobbly. By Wednesday he couldn’t stand a lot of the time and was whining or crying much of the day. I took him to the vet, where he was diagnosed with some kind of neurological event. It could be a brain tumor, a stroke, or some kind of degenerative brain disease. Regardless, the result was the same. There was no real course of treatment and he would continue to decline. We were concerned about his quality of life, but wanted to give it a few more days.

Wednesday night was rough. Duncan wouldn’t settle down, and whined or barked constantly. Kirk didn’t sleep and I only got a little rest. We knew that Thursday we needed to make the hard choice, and bring him back to the vet. We spent the whole morning and early afternoon making Duncan as comfortable as possible, which was hard. He could barely walk or stand without falling over. He had basically lost the function of the left side of his body. He was incredibly anxious. But we wanted Duncan’s last few hours to be as great as possible. He had bacon for breakfast.

He and I laid in bed together for about 45 minutes, and this was the only time in 12 hours he seemed calm.

Finally, it was time to go. We drove to the vet and went into a room with him. The doctor came in and explained everything. I held Duncan’s paw as he drifted off to sleep, tears streaming down my face. Kirk held my other hand. The last thing Duncan saw were the people that loved him the most. We were left to be with Duncan as long as we wanted. We sat in the room for awhile, going back and forth between crying and trying to compose ourselves. Finally, we kissed him goodbye and went to get a couple stiff drinks.

This little bit of writing can’t fully capture how awesome Duncan was, or how much I loved him. He was my first dog, my baby. I am so sad that sometimes it actually hurts. I know that only the passage of time will help. I’m grateful that I got to have 11 years with him. I hope Reid remembers him when he’s older.

Duncan, you were simply the best.


One thought on “Dr. Duncanstein

  1. Oh, Jesus. Ella went down the same way, in about two days. The morning of the election, we could no longer keep her comfortable. I stay with her body that suddenly seemed glossier after the pain and she left it. I stayed with her and wept while Frank elected to go. I smelled her and stroked her beautiful black fur and wept some more.

    I flew to SF the next morning, barely awake, barely aware that Hillary Clinton had lost. When Julie picked me up at the airport, she wept in my arms for several minutes, sobbing and sobbing and asking for reassurance that we wouldn’t become a hateful dystopia under Trump.

    I had no tears to share, they were given to a far worthier being, one black girl who died while Obama was still president.

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