Duke's story in my life starts long before I ever met him.  I was moving out on my own for the very first time in my life.  The move to an apartment would be too much for my childhood dog, so I adopted a cat from the shelter.  We visited the shelter a few times trying to figure out what to pick, but it was the large, buff cat whom kept sticking his arm out and grabbing me whom I fell in love with.

We named him Reginald, and he was affectionately known as Reggie.  For the time I lived alone (which wasn't long) Reggie was my constant companion.  We bonded almost immediately, and he was unlike any cat I had ever known.  I could talk with him and he would answer with little meows, and he followed me everywhere.  Just six months after becoming his owner, Reggie was hit by a car and passed away.  I was a mess.  I had loved him so much and just never expected him leaving me so soon.  He took a piece of my heart away I'll never get back.

A day or two later, my mom said she saw an add in the paper for "cute mix puppies".  We went with my sister to go look at them.  The car ride was long, and it was cold and rainy out.  Upon arriving we saw a gaggle of tiny, short, fluffy black puppies playing in a wet patch of grass.  They were adorable.  It didn't take me long to pick the little puppy getting picked on.  The lady said he was a schipperke min pin mix, should be about 20 pounds fully grown.

A month or so later, we took a "little" 30 pound Duke to the vet for shots and a check up.  The vet told us Duke could easily weigh 100 pounds fully grown.  Needless to say we were shocked.  As Duke grew, so did his personality.  He quickly went through what I call the adoption phase...as in the stage you want to give your dog away because they are taxing to your patience!  He was ornery, but I slowly fell in love.  Once he got past that stage we bonded immensely, and he is the greatest companion I've ever had.

Last year at this time we took Duke to the vet because he had been limping.  He was diagnosed with a torn cruciate.  Basically one of the ligaments in his his knee tore.  It was scary.  I thought I had lost the happy dog I had.  I was scared he would no longer run, no longer jump, no longer be able to play with his sister.  We had hoped to do a more expensive knee surgery, but when they said it would cost 3200 dollars, it just wasn't  possible.  Instead we went with a less expensive surgery that everyone said was best for smaller dogs.  His surgery went well, and we brought home a bandaged and limping dog.

With only leashed walks, no stairs, no jumping, playing, running of any kind for about a month, Duke was finally released to go back to "normal" activities.  It was a time of a lot of uncertanty as we knew physically Duke may never be the same.  That thought tore at me, how can you give a dog a good life if they can't do what dogs love to do?  The day he tip toed on his foot delighted me, when he started using it occasionally gave me hope.  Time slowly passed, and his knee healed.  If you saw Duke today outside, running, playing, swimming, you would never know he had surgery.  He's completely normal, and very happy.  After a long, hard day of playing he may limp a little, but other than that he is doing great.

I started out writing this because it was just about a year ago we found out what was wrong.  I just wanted to recount the story, but there is one thing that has kept popping into my mind the entire time I've been writing this.  God loves me.  He cares about me.  He wants me to be happy.  He also knows what is best for me.  When I found out Duke couldn't have the more expensive, more scientifically logical surgery, I could have throw a fit about it.  I could have cursed about it, I could have blamed God.  (I do admit I did worry more than I should have!)  God knew what He was doing, and everything turned out just fine.  I hope in the future this will remind me sometimes you just have to trust God.  It may not make sense, but if God closes a door, there's a reason.

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