Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Duke and Duchess," A Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Tess, is this notebook yours or Eddie’s?”

“Mine, Mom.”

“But his name is written across the front. Unless you’ve changed yours to Eduardo.”

“Oh, Mom. I just like the way his name looks.”

“And you like the way he looks, too.”


“I’ve often seen him walking his German Shepherd past our house lately. I don’t remember his doing that a lot before.”

“He likes to take her to the park. In fact, I see him coming up the hill with Duchess right now.”


“That’s his dog’s name. It’s funny. Our German Shepherd was called ‘Duke.’ If he were still alive, they would be Duke and Duchess.”

“I miss Duke, dear.”

“So do I, Mom. Will we get another soon?”

“I’m not quite ready, but I do want another dog, either a German Shepherd or a Golden Retriever.”

Mrs. Williams went back to doing some dusting, thinking about her little girl, who was not so little any more, and who clearly had a crush on Eddie Gomez; he seemed like a good kid.

Outside, Tess yelled, “Hi, Eddie. What’s up?”

“Walking Duchess to the park. Want to come?”

“Yes, I do. I wish our Duke hadn’t died last year. Maybe the two dogs would have been friends.”

“Duke and Duchess.”


“I felt very safe with Duke around,” said Tess, “and so did the rest of the family. He never bit anybody, but he looked like he might if they gave us trouble.”

“Duchess hasn’t bit any people, either, but she has beaten up a few other dogs. She wants to be the boss dog. Some guy let his Pit Bull Terrier loose, and it came after Duchess. They went for each other’s necks, and then Duchess had a better idea: she reached down and grabbed the other dog’s front leg in her mouth, picked it up and wouldn’t let go. The Pit Bull was stuck, couldn’t do anything to her.”

“What happened then?”

“The other owner came and very carefully got his dog back on the leash. His dog‘s leg was bleeding. I haven‘t seen them since.”

“Served them right,” Tess affirmed.

As they walked, Eddie continued to praise his dog. “She’s smart, too. She sleeps in my room most nights, and last week I was just getting to sleep when she banged her water dish with her paw to tell me she wanted more water. I didn’t want to get up, so I just lay there. She used her mouth to pick up her dish– it’s some kind of light metal– and she placed it on my pillow, then licked it to show me it was empty.”

“Wow! That was smart. What did you do?”

“I got up and filled her dish with water. She had earned it.”

Not to be too outdone, Tess said, “Our Duke was smart, too. He would stand close to the front door and bark if he wanted to go on the porch. He would stand about a yard back from the front door and bark if he wanted to go for a walk. If you tried to put him on the porch when he wanted a walk, he wouldn’t go, knowing that once he was on the porch, he couldn’t easily tell us he wanted a walk.”

“Smart dogs!” Eddie agreed. “Good protection, too. Nobody who comes to the door will get past Duchess if she doesn’t know them. Even though my dad’s a cop, my mother doesn’t want guns in the house when he’s not home, so a tough dog, a tough-looking dog anyway, is really good.”

“We feel safer with a dog, too, so we will get another. Duke was a sweetheart, and we miss him. We are almost ready to get a puppy.”

Three months later, the Williams family bought another German Shepherd, a puppy. They named him “King,” outranking a Duke or a Duchess. Eddie laughed when he heard the name applied to that small ball of fur, but he was careful not to laugh about it in front of Tess.


Another of our series of 50 upbeat short stories for young readers.

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