A tribute to Dudley

5/27/06 – 8/14/13

Every rescued Bullmastiff we have had the privilege of meeting has, in its own way, touched our hearts. Each one is unique; each one is special. Over the last few years we have gravitated toward those older and sometimes infirm Bullmastiffs that have come into rescue. That was the case for Dudley, a handsome seven year old boy.

We write this as a tribute mainly to Dudley, a great dog. But this is also a tribute to all those who, even though they did not know Dudley long, cared for and loved this sweet boy at a time he needed them the most: Lucy and the kennel tech at the shelter; Kim in Memphis who found foster care for Dudley; JoAnn, Jim and Alyson in Memphis who opened their home and hearts; Lynda who transported Dudley to Nashville; Dr. Martin who performed acupuncture at a great discount; and Gerald and our son, David, who cared for Dudley at the farm.

Dudley’s story is one we have all heard before. His family, since he was a puppy, decided to move to the west coast but Dudley was not to be included. Instead, he was dropped at the local shelter. Thankfully this was a shelter we had worked with before and they rang us about Dudley.

Right away we noticed Dudley had a limp. The records from his original family said the limp was from “an inflamed ligament.” Additionally, Dudley seemed very depressed and was not eating well. A trip to our vet revealed the real story. Dudley had advanced osteosarcoma in his humerus and swollen lymph nodes in that region. We were devastated.

I wrote to the temporary foster family in Memphis just to let them know how Dudley was. Almost immediately they asked if Dudley could come back to them to spend the rest of his life in a home he knew and with a family that loved him. My partner, Gerald, took Dudley to a specialty clinic to have acupuncture performed on his shoulder and then headed to Memphis to meet Dudley’s foster parents. In the two hours after acupuncture Dudley deteriorated to the point he had a hard time standing. Still, his foster family took him home. There, in the living room with the family that loved him at his side, Dudley slipped away at 5:00 a.m. the following morning.

Everyone came together with one specific mission in mind: we would do whatever we needed to do to make Dudley’s last days full of love, warmth and comfort. Even though JoAnn and Jim knew the outcome of Dudley’s disease, they did not hesitate bringing Dudley “back home” to be with the family that loved him so.

This is what rescue is about. We are a group of volunteers who, no matter what else is happening in our own lives, make room in our schedules, our homes and in our hearts to care for a dog that has only one place to put his hopes for the life he so very much deserves. Those hopes are placed with us. Even though there is often heart break we respond to that dog’s plea: “Please rescue me.”

I have no answers as to why we do this. I can only leave you with this:

We who choose to surround ourselves
with lives even more temporary than our
own, live within a fragile circle;
easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only
certain immortality, never fully
understanding the necessary plan....

Scott Hoffman, M.D.
Gerald C. Greer
Starry Knight Bullmastiffs
Wakefield on the Harpeth
Franklin, Tennessee
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