The Power of Connection: Duke’s Story

The end of 2020 was the start of a new beginning for Duke.

In December, Duke was sick, emaciated and unable to walk. But a good Samaritan took him to Dove Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital for critical care. He was then transferred to Multnomah County Animal Services since he was considered a stray.

On the last day of 2020, he was transferred to the Oregon Humane Society to continue his recovery while the OHS Humane Law Enforcement team opened an investigation. A dog in Duke’s state requires a slow, methodical plan to bring him back to health. He began a controlled refeeding plan while OHS veterinarians began to treat his other ailments including a skin infection, dental disease and an unexpected heartworm positive diagnosis.

Last year had also been extremely challenging for Julie Downes. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Due to the pandemic, she was forced to spend her recovery alone and isolated.

During this time, Julie began to think about getting a dog. It had been 20 years since she had a canine companion and watching dog videos online made her realize that she was ready. “I really needed a companion and someone to walk with while I continued to recover from surgery and chemo,” says Julie.

Meanwhile, Duke had spent almost two months in an experienced OHS foster home while he gained weight and learned to be a dog again. He was finally ready for his next step — a loving home.

Julie had been looking at pet profiles online when Duke’s photo caught her eye. “I saw his picture and I was hooked,” adds Julie. “I couldn’t stop thinking about him for about a week, so I submitted a questionnaire.”

Julie and Duke had an instant connection when they met. “He sat on my feet and just looked at me,” says Julie. “But knowing his story made me want to adopt him even more.”

Since Duke went home with Julie, their bond has only grown stronger. “He is so special, and I am so in love with him. He always has to be near me and touching me,” says Julie. “We have both been through hell and are getting better together.”

Recently, Julie has been well enough to participate in one of her other favorite activities: attending Mini car enthusiast rallies with the Rose City Minis club. Of course, Duke is at her side the entire time and has become a favorite among other club members. “He’s so adorable — like this little velvet cushion with legs. Everyone just loves him.”