Before I was born, my parents visited Germany and fell in love with a German Shepherd puppy. When my mother saw his lopsided ears and goofy personality, she couldn’t resist bringing him home. The dog’s name was Duke, and he watched me grow up from the very beginning.
Duke was the epitome of a gentle giant; loving and innocently curious. He often endured hits and hisses from our two cats without complaint. Duke even witnessed my toddler stages, (as well as my sister’s), and loyally tolerated our tail-pulling.
There was a time when my father purposely hid his face inside a large jacket to see if Duke would react to protect the family. Duke became instantly protective and began to bark and growl at the ‘intruder’ in the jacket. When my father revealed his face, Duke instantly relaxed and became a loving companion again.
We had never officially trained Duke, yet, he was the perfect dog for us. Duke passed away when I was eleven.
The reason why I was so moved by The Science of Dogs is because Duke died due to a breed-related illness. In the German Shepherd breed it is not uncommon for the dog’s stomach to twist in on itself, cutting off blood flow. A dog with this condition could be fine one instant and gone another. This was how Duke left us. It’s truly heartbreaking, and it hurts to know that humans have played a part in this.
Duke, being a German Shepherd straight from Germany, was a beautiful dog who always received compliments. Although the breeds are beautiful I believe there isn’t enough said about what we’re doing to weaken the dogs themselves. I hope that progress is made to fix some of the problems man has made so no other dogs will die because of their breed.