The first I remember of Macduff is walking him in Palo Alto, California through a street fair in a park with my Aunt Sue, who proceeded to buy me a Kermit the Frog puppet. At three and a half years old, I was a big Sesame Street fan and I loved Kermit, which is likely why I remember this walk so much. However, during this walk I believe it was more likely that the two-year-old big yellow Labrador-Retriever was walking us through a street fair, than us walking him.
When I was four we moved to a ranch in Portola Valley, California and Macduff came with us. He was the leader of dogs at the ranch-- always guiding them, calming them, and punishing them when necessary. He was a soft gentle soul, training the new pups what was right and what was not right.
One year we inherited a puppy named Fluffy. Fluffy was a small, black puff of a pup and Duff was his hero. He would follow Duff everywhere. As they lounged on the front porch together, he would chew on the scruff of Duff’s neck below his bottom jaw. If Duff got up to chase after a deer or some other critter, Fluffy would hang on, wagging in the wind while Duff performed his critter chasing duties.
Duff moved with us from ranch to ranch to house. When I was a teen, we moved to a house in Portola Valley. Duff slept in my room. He was older then and no longer an outside dog, preferring to spend most of his time inside with his human family. Since most of our family time was around the kitchen table, Duff spent most of his time under the table. At bedtime, he’d get up and make the torturous trek across the hardwood floor of the hallway and round the corner to my room. My door didn’t close all the way, so he’d bang his head against it to open it. Then he’d curl up on the carpeted floor of my room to guard me while I slept.
One summer, when I was 16 and Duff was 17, I went traveling with my best friend’s family. Duff chose that time to depart our world. My brother, Todd, shared these words about that evening:
The night Duff died I spent about an hour with him in the kitchen. I rubbed each paw and his arthritis was not as bad as normal. I was very superstitious and gave each paw equal amounts of attention. When I got done with Duff I got up and he licked me. This never happened. As you know, Duff did not lick anyone ever. I remember thinking it was odd but did not read into it. Dad was in the den and Mom went to bed to read. As I walked to my room Duff followed me, again he never did this before. He slept under the kitchen table. I walked him back to his spot. He laid down and I retreated to my bed. Less than one minute later he was thrashing about in his spot. I ran to him and yelled for Dad, but Duff was gone before he got to him. Dad took him outside and buried him next to the chicken shed. We stayed up for awhile at the table in silence. I was grateful to have had his last moments spent with me and I will remember every detail of that night forever.