The Legacy of Luke, a Very Good Boy

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I’m writing on the sad occasion of the passing of our beloved family dog, Luke. While we are heartbroken to lose our companion of 11.5 years, please know that he filled our life with more joy than we could have imagined. And for that, we are forever grateful.

I hope you enjoy reading a little bit about what he was like.

We first met Luke (the shelter knew him as Charlie) as a 3-ish-year-old in January 2008 in Arizona. Our other dog, Shanna, and he had a visit and hit it off, and before we knew it, he was in the car headed home.

The first night we baby-gated him in our master bath, and he made it known that was not acceptable, groaning at us all night. So we let him on the bed instead, and that’s where he spent nearly every night of his life with us, except for the last couple of weeks, when cancer made him too weak to make the leap (and he wouldn’t let us pick him up and place him anymore).

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That first week he had a bad case of kennel cough and wasn’t eating, and there were times we weren’t sure he would make it. We fed him high-calorie pumpkin purée to get him by. The prescribed medicine also worked its magic but made him lethargic and nose-drippy for a while, to the point we called him Lucas Mucus.

Lucas Mucus got better! This first nickname evolved to many others over the years: Lucas Mookus (just Mookus for short), Lukie Mookie (aka Mookie or Mookie Boy), Luka Mooka, Mookus Maximus, Mookus Head, Moose Head. (OK, Moose Head makes sense when you consider his long snout and frequent mopey head hanging.)

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Our kids called him Lukie, and I think that one suited him best. Lukie Boy was a good boy.

I also called him Handsome Man, and was he handsome. Light golden fur with a striking dark shepherd-like face. He had a unique pink coloration on his nose, and black cat eye makeup markings around his soft brown eyes.

I loved how his too-big ears would perk up and rotate like satellite dishes to track an interesting sound. If he heard something worth barking at, he rarely ever barked. About the only time he did was while playing with Shanna or telling her to calm down, and dutifully protecting his family pack at the park or on walks.

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Luke loved a good walk! He had boundless energy in his prime, but he didn’t bounce off the walls at home. He seemed to save it for the leash. The boy needed to be out in front of anyone walking with him. He would pull us along like a sled dog. We bought a gentle leader and he would pull through it, driving a deep indent into his snout. He never seemed to mind.

Luke was so strong! He had a barrel chest on a thin but muscular frame. For his size, he had dainty feet.

The boy loved to eat, and after he’d have a particularly yummy meal, I’d cheer him on as he’d go rub his face on the carpet and roll around in apparent celebration.

His favorite place to relax was the nearest couch, preferably with a person already there. Existing space for him on the couch was not a requirement.

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On the floor, he seemed to enjoy sitting upright and splaying out his back legs like a frog. On the stairs, he’d have a seat like you and me, naturally.

A medium sized dog, he’d come up to me and I’d kneel down, and he would fit perfectly under my arm for full-body hugs and face smooshes. No other dog fit me quite like Lukie Boy.

Perhaps what I love most about Luke, and why I’ll most miss him, is how perfect he was for me and my family. That is Luke’s legacy.

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He was calm and peaceful and patient and affectionate and loyal. His one-of-kind temperament had a lasting effect on anyone he met.

Luke was about 6 years old when our son was born. Like any new dad, I was terrified how my dogs would react to a newborn in the house. If things didn’t go well, obviously the dogs would have to go. But I quickly realized that was never an issue with Luke.

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IMG_3178.jpgIMG_1450The moment my son came home, Luke went down one notch in the pack order. It must have been hard for him, but you’d never know it, the way he continued to love on my family. Same deal when our daughter came home a few years later.

Luke endured many years of baby shrieking and ear and tail pulling and too-hard petting from the kids, but he never—really, never ever—got snippy or reacted with anything but complete and unconditional affection.

I remember one time my 4-year-old son sat on the tile floor and piled couch pillows on top of Luke. The good boy just sat there and let it happen, without a hint of annoyance.

He was such a people person. The times we had to pen him up, if he was within earshot, he groaned at us in objection. Whenever he was allowed to be with guests, he would quietly work the room to get his pets in. And how could you not pet such a good boy?

Luke was the permanent chairman of the welcome committee, eagerly tail-wagging and butt-wiggling to greet us at the door when we returned home.

As my children grew older, they learned to love Lukie Boy as much as my wife and I did. And I just knew that Luke loved it, too. On nights he wasn’t taking his share of space at the end of our bed, he was curled up in the chair in my son’s room.

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Mookie. Lukie Boy. Handsome Man. I thank God for bringing you into my family. And while I won’t ever know why you had to leave us when you did, I have no doubts that you made the most of your short time with us. That is a dog’s life very well lived.

You were an original, Luke. You had a kind and gentle soul. We’ll remember you always. We love you, good boy.

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