By far, the most memorable pet in our family was McDuff. McDuff was my dad’s sister’s Labrador retriever and she needed us to take care of him for six months. Grampa came to pick him up for Aunt Sue and Dad said, “No way. McDuff stays.” And he did. For his whole life. He died when I was 17. He was brilliant, patient, loving and sharp as a tack.
McDoff was patient with children as well as with other dogs. I remember when my brother got a black puppy, aptly named Fluffy, and Fluffy would teeth on Duff’s hanging neck skin. Just teeth away and Duff would lie there patiently. Something would catch his hear in the woods- a deer, another dog, a monster (our imaginations were active)- and Duff would run toward it, barking. Fluffy would still be hanging on, waving there like a fluffy black neckerchief. The two would come back minutes to hours later, Fluffy still hanging on.
I remember an Easter Sunday, waking up to go hunt for Easter eggs in the acreage of our front yard. I donned my coat and rain boots over my pajamas and grabbed my basket. Upon opening the front door, though, we couldn’t step down, as there was a pile of beautifully dyed egg shells that McDuff had “retrieved” for us. He smiled up at us proudly.
When he was older and when we’d moved from ranch, McDuff slept in my room, which was next to the kitchen. I remember the sound of him coming to bed like it was yesterday. I would hear the clicking of his toes on the hardwood floor as he rounded the corner and then his head butting into my door to lodge it open. He’d waltz in, lie down with a happy groan and then we’d both drift to sleep.