Duke & Georgia: A Love Story
Since Duke arrived, Georgia has been his seeing-eye dog.
Or is there more to it?
When Duke arrived at our house in August, 2019, he was mostly blind, mostly deaf, unneutered, underweight, and completely confused.
After 14 years, his family had abandoned him to the shelter, and it seemed like he was on a mission to go find them. Duke was in constant motion for the first two weeks, bumping into and tripping over everything in his search for the way out. He couldn’t be left unattended for a second.
I had to watch him constantly. But as I did, I also got to observe the other dogs: Tyler (11), Lily (8) and Georgia (9).
From the very first day, each dog reacted differently to Duke’s arrival.
Tyler was furious that I had brought home another male. He had no understanding that Duke was blind, so every time Duke accidentally bumped into him, Tyler took it as an invitation to fight. Tyler guarded me fiercely for those first two weeks, but since I was constantly helping Duke adjust, it meant that the two dogs most likely to fight were always within inches of me. It was a delicate dance, but thankfully, Duke didn’t have an ounce of aggressiveness in him. He eventually won Tyler over, and today they are completely peaceful.
Lily ran and hid. I didn’t see her at all for two weeks. If Duke came in the room, Lily retreated. She was clearly scared of Duke because of his blindness and constant bumping into things.
Georgia was different.
She stuck around. She didn’t react at all when he stepped on her. She wasn’t overly friendly or affectionate to him, but what I noticed is that she was ALWAYS around Duke.
When Duke slept, Georgia slept a foot or two away. When he was awake, she was nearby, calmly watching him. I didn’t take many pictures of him those first two weeks, but when I did, Georgia was right there next to him.
The other thing I noticed about Georgia was that she was much calmer than I‘d ever seen her. Georgia is an anxious, barky dog who hates the outside. It terrifies her, and she barks at everything that moves and some things that don’t. But for the first two weeks that we had Duke, we spent almost all our daylight hours outside in the backyard. There was less to bump into and it gave the dogs more personal space. Georgia usually can’t spend more than a few minutes outside at a time, but she was right there with us, and she almost never barked. She had a calm, peaceful energy that was really wonderful to see.
The other curious thing I noticed is that when we walked, Duke was constantly bumping into Georgia’s back end. Not Tyler’s, not Lily’s, just Georgia’s. He stayed right behind her, following her scent so closely that if she slowed down or he sped up a bit, they would bump. Georgia never flinched. She didn’t seem to mind at all. The two of them walked together, nose to rear, for weeks, until Duke finally felt comfortable walking on his own.
I thought this was pretty remarkable because Georgia is a former breeding dog, and she doesn’t tolerate males in her personal space. Especially unneutered males like Duke. It amazed me that she was so patient with him and never made him back off.
It was my vet who helped me see what was happening.
She said, “You might notice that one of your other dogs becomes Duke’s seeing-eye dog.”
I didn’t even know such a thing existed, so I naively said, “Oh, cool! What kind of things would they do?” I even remember asking myself, “I wonder which dog it will be?”
She went on to explain everything that Georgia was already doing!
Georgia had been his seeing-eye dog all along, without any assistance (or even awareness!) from me.
From the very first day, she knew what Duke needed and she stepped up to give it to him.
She set aside her fears of the outside and boy dogs in order to help him feel comfortable, safe and accepted.
She gave herself the job of keeping him company, and she did it perfectly.
She helped him navigate walks around the neighborhood and trips up and down the stairs with a patience and lack of personal space she has never given another dog.
I don’t know if she did it out of motherly love or something more, but it’s undeniable that it took a deep devotion and affection from her to give Duke as much guidance as she did.
Today, more than six months later, Duke is perfectly independent, but he and Georgia are still a pair. She doesn’t need to guide him on walks or up and down the stairs, but she’s gone on to teach him other valuable things. Like how to clean the dishes, which chair to get on when I leave the house and can’t tell them to get off the furniture, and how to bark at all the things, even (especially) the things you can’t see. They often share the same dog bed, and every time I bend down to hug Duke, Georgia zooms in next to him and smooshes her happy face into our hug.
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me for both of them. When Georgia arrived at our house in 2013, she was instantly accepted by Tyler and Lily, but always on the outskirts. Tyler and Lily have a very strong brother-sister bond, and they’ve never completely let Georgia in on that.
She was always the odd dog out.
Now that Georgia has Duke, I have two happy, bonded pairs. Everyone has someone, and it makes my heart happy. As I’m sure it does theirs.
Let’s Talk Dogs
I’d love to hear from you, dog mom!
Does your dog have a special bond with another dog?
What do you think—can dogs fall in love with each other? What kind of behaviors have you noticed that make you think that?
What the world needs now is love, and I believe our dogs have more love to give than we even realize.