Rose’s long-awaited move to her family abroad ought to be exciting – but what was to be done about poor old Duke?
“It’s the right decision,” I said as I packed my equipment away. Given Rose Baker’s health problems, the fact her daughter had finally persuaded her to move could only be best for everyone.
“I can’t take Duke, though,” she said. “Australia’s so far away. Not to mention time in quarantine…” She shook her head.
“It would be cruel at his age. I’ll need to find someone to take him. “
I looked over to where Duke sat on the hearth rug. My heart squeezed as two large brown eyes looked up at me. I knew Rose wouldn’t settle to her new life unless her dog was happy.
“What about the rehoming centre?”
Rose was appalled.
“They’d give him to strangers – if they managed to find a home at all.” She gave a little sniff at that thought.
I admit I felt like crying myself. Duke was such a sweetheart. The warm welcome he always gave me on my daily visits to Rose never failed to cheer me up, no matter how difficult my day.
“Duke needs to be with someone who’ll love him, Nurse.
I wonder… Do you think you could have him?”
I sighed and shook my head sadly.
“I’m sorry, Rose. If it was just me I wouldn’t hesitate, but my husband wouldn’t be happy if I took Duke home.”
Being a pet rehomer wasn’t part of my job, but I couldn’t resist approaching my next patient, Mrs Allan.
“Might you have room for Duke here at the farm?” I asked hopefully as I reapplied a dressing to her leg.
She shook her head.
“We already have two dogs. Besides, there’s the expense,” she added. “Not many people would want to take on an old boy his age with vet bills looming.”
There was no room for argument because I knew she was right.
It seemed a personal failure to visit Rose the next day with no solution in sight.
Ruffling the soft fur on Duke’s head, I tried to think.
“What about your dog-walking friends?”
Because of Rose’s mobility problems, a couple she knew popped by to take Duke for regular walks.
She shook her head.
“They love dogs, but can’t have one in their rented flat.”
She looked so sad – and I felt awful. I knew she would miss Duke like crazy anyway, but this uncertainty marred what should have been an exciting time.
Once back in my car, I phoned Eddie and explained the situation – just in case.
“Ella, no,” he said. “You can’t solve everyone’s problems.”
Knowing he was being sensible didn’t make me feel any better as I drove off to my next patient.
“Maybe I should postpone going,” Rose said the next day. “Until… you know…”
The words left unsaid brought a lump to my throat.
“You can’t do that,” I told her gently. “Duke’s in good health despite his age. He could live several years and you need to be with your family.”
“I just don’t know what to do,” she said, with tears welling.
I willed myself to stay strong. No matter how much I was tempted, I couldn’t take on the responsibility.
Really, I couldn’t…
Before I drove off, I glanced in my rear view mirror and a pair of soft brown eyes met my gaze.
“We’re going to be happy together, aren’t we, boy?”
Emotional blackmail, that’s what it boiled down to.
Rose Baker knew I had a soft spot for Duke so she’d taken advantage.
“Who’s this?” Eddie demanded as we walked in.
Luckily, my husband was as dog-daft as me and within minutes he was smitten.
“OK, Ella,” he said. “We can keep Duke – but he has to be the last.”
He definitely would be, I promised myself as I took Duke through to the lounge to meet the rest of the family.
“Your new brothers,” I told him as we were besieged by four noisy dogs – all rehomed from other ailing patients.
Enjoy another lovely doggy-themed story from our archives every Monday and Thursday throughout September. Look out for the next one!