A Dog Named Duke by William D. Ellis
(Learn the underlined words)
Para 1 .. It is a story of 1953. Chuck Hooper was a strong, well-built young manbubbling with energy. Athletic and friendly, he had been a footballer during his university days. Now, he worked for a chemical company as its Zonal Sales Manager. A happy life appeared to lay ahead of this six-feet-one tall man exuding a great zest for life.
Para 2 .. Then tragedy struck. In an autumn evening, he met with a car accident that left him partly paralyzed due to a brain injury.
Para 3 … Chuck’s wife Marcy had him shifted to a hospital, where he lay unable to talk. His movement was impaired. He could only breathe and see. He had double vision.
Marcy had another worry. They had a dog at home. His name was Duke. Marcy telephoned her neighbour asking her to move Duke to a kennel.
Para 4 … Chuck Hooper remained critically down for a month in the hospital. In the fifth week, some people from the company visited him to suggest that he take a year off from job. They offered to create a desk job in the company’s head office to accommodate Chuck.
Para 5 .. After six weeks, the hospital put him in a wheel chair and gave him a wheeled walker to move around. But, Chuck’s arm and legs barely moved. Despite the care of the doctors, he remained immobilized.
Para 6 .. In March, Chuck was discharged from the hospital. Returning home lifted his spirits temporarily, but it drooped soon. Chuck had no longer the company of other patients. After Marcy left home daily in the morning, the loneliness of home descended on him like a rock. The dog Duke was still lodged in the kennel.
Para 7 .. Finally, it was decided to bring back Duke from the kennel. As a show of defiance, Chuck said he must welcome Duke in a standing position. Duke was very excited to be home and to see Chuck again. Wild with joy he jumped forward at Chuck with all his energy, unaware that his master was so grievously handicapped. Duke’s nails had grown long during his three months in the kennel. Chuck barely managed to stand erect after Duke hit him above his belt. It was a great union.
Para 8 .. Duke, perhaps, assessed his master’s condition correctly. From then on, there was no acrobatics, no uncontrolled show of joy. Duke restrained himself to a position behind his master’s bed.
Para 9 … Duke’s presence, sadly, did not do much for Chuck. The muscular frame of Chuck began to wither slowly, very agonizingly. Chuck could just helplessly look at the ceiling, the outside through the window and at his favourite Duke. The grimace in his face made Marcy very sad. She sobbed quietly.
Para 10 .. Chuck stared at Duck endlessly trying to grapple with his enforced idleness. Duck wanted to say a thousand words to comfort his master. Obviously, he could not. Together, the two souls suffered. Duke could take it no more. He stood up to brake the shackles of his master in one jerk.
Para 11 .. He growled, “Ya-ruff’.
Para 12 .. Chuck shouted, “Be quiet, Duke’.
Para 13 .. Duke walked up to his master’s bed. He tried to coax Chuck to action by lifting his elbow with his nose.
Para 14 .. Chuck tried to push Duke back saying, “Go and run around the house, Chuck.”
Para 15 .. But, Duke wouldn’t heed his master’s orders. He would lie down there looking disapprovingly at Chuck. An hour later, he would approach Chuck again to coax him to move, get going. Chuck stayed put in his position beside the bed.
Para 16 .. One evening Chuck using his un-affected hand hooked the leash to Duke’s leash. He wanted to hold his dog still. It was the signal Chuck was waiting for. He sprang to his feet as if a lightening of hope had struck him. He shook his body excitedly. Chuck was taken aback. He asked Marcy to help him to his feet. Duke’s restless body shook with energy. Marcy held her husband’s elbow while he held on to the dog’s leash. He put the right leg forward and dragged the left foot. It was a crude little step of Chuck that came after months of waiting.
Para 17 …. When the leash became a little loose, Chuck pulled it tight. Chuck struggled to complete the his step somehow. Thrice he repeated his effort before collapsing on his wheelchair exhausted.
Para 18 … Next day the duo started its effort early, with Duke taking the initiative. He was coaxing his master to start his steps. Chuck began to take his steps when Duke pulled the leash, virtually dragging his master. One, two, three and four. It was some progress from the previous day.
Para 19 … Now, didn’t need Marcy to hold him steady. It was Wednesday. With Duke pulling the leash, Chuck began to stagger to his steps. It was five. Thursday, one more – to six. Friday – not very encouraging. Just two steps before Chuck felt too tired to move any more.
Para 20 … By mid-April, it had become a routine exercise for Duke and Chuck. Led by his dog, Chuck ventured out of the house for his ‘learning lessons’. It was quite interesting to watch how Duke, the coach, walked quickly ahead to make the leash taut. Then he waited for Chuck to pull up staggering the short distance. Duke would repeat his quick steps to pull the leash tight. This would signal Chuck to walk his steps to catch up with the waiting Duke. Like this, the walking- stopping-walking continued in short spurts.
The duo set their goals – adding one more fence posts each day’s practice sessions.
Para 21 … Duke’s contribution to Chuck’s recovery and the perseverance of her husband filled Marcy’s heart with hope. She got in touch with the doctor and was asked to let her husband to do physiotherapy exercises. Soon, Chuck began to use pulleys, weights and a few other gadgets. Chuck continued his short walking stints with Duke. The paces increased agonizingly slowly.
Para 22… News of Chuck’s progress was being watched with great interest in the neighbourhood. On June 1, when the duo reached the nearby cross, the onlookers rejoiced. Words of Chuck’s recovery spread soon.
Para 23 … The duo increased their walking practice to twice a day, and they covered longer distances. Duke jealously kept an eye on his master as Chuck kept pushing himself harder and harder. His gait improved.
Para 24 … On January 4, Chuck walked solo. He covered the 200 meters distance between the clinic and the local of his company. His appearance took the office staff completely by surprise. Chuck was as decent as he was professional. He asked the office head Gordon for an update. Evidently, Chuck wanted to resume his duty. He told Gordon Doule that he would work for an hour a day initially. Chuck pointed to an empty desk and declared, “I would work from there. I just need a dictating machine.”
Para 25 … The people in the company’s headquarters were in a quandary. The senior managers obviously could not tell Chuck he was too handicapped to work especially when he had made such a heroic effort to recover. But a sales man had to travel, and one hour a day presence in the office was going to be of not much use to the company. Little did they know about Chuck Hooper’s self-set target that he would start his full day work from March 1.
Para 26 …. March 1 came. Chuck had to stop the physiotherapy sessions as he had no time for it. Due was back in charge. He pulled Chuck faster and faster with his leash exerting him to be more steady and stable while walking. Once, in a dark evening, Duke tripped and fell on the road. Duke maintained vigil over him till he struggled and got back on his feet.
Para 27 .. Thirteen months hence, Chuck worked full time in the job. He was promoted as the regional manager with jurisdiction over four states.
Para 28 …. Marcy, Chuk and Duke moved to anew house on March, 1956. The neighbours were oblivious of Chuck’s earlier travails. But, they saw Chuck walking rather uneasily pulled by his stout dog.
Para 29 … It was October 12, 1957. There was a little party at the Hoopers’. Guests were coming in. Suddenly, Chuck Hooper heard a piercing screeching sound. It was the sound of brakes of a speeding car. Instinctively Chuck looked around for Duke.
Para 30 …. It was Duke. He had been grievously injured by a car. The people around brought the large dog inside Chuck’s house. Marcy, not letting anyone touch the Duke, carried the dog to the animal hospital in her car.
Para 31 … Duke had been fatally hurt to recover despite the vets’ efforts. He breathed his last at 11am the next day.
Para 32 … People who had watched the way Duke had helped Chuk to get walking again wondered how the void would affect Chuk.
Para 33 … Chuk got elevated to the post of Assistant Sales Manager of his company. It was a fitting tribute to a dog which had done so much towards the turn-around of Chuk Hooper.