Duke

In my prime, I was the best in the business. No one could run down dealers and addicts like me. Between the two of us, my partner and I received numerous accolades, made dozens of newspaper appearances, and were even asked to participate in photoshoots with various elected officials. He got promotions and bonuses; I got belly rubs and treats. Life was good.

I say ‘was’ because just as you think life is going to be all tail wags and Beggin’ Strips, you get a reality check. I became the very thing that I was so good at hunting, an addict. 

In the business, you see it a lot. Many good boys suddenly have a hard time coping with all the action. It starts slowly: first, you just need it once in a while to clear your mind and feel better. Then, you find yourself skulking around, looking to get more of that sweet relief from anyone you can. 

I suppose I should properly introduce myself. My name is Duke, and I’m addicted to walks.

Not long after my habit started, it began to affect my work. If I didn’t get a nice big walk at least twice a day, I became fidgety and irritable. Not only that, I became ruthless. I once bit a suspect’s ear off on an undercover sting operation when he said he quote “wanted to walk away from the deal,” and then I didn’t get a walk. But fortunately, he was a cokehead and I had a long and distinguished record, so the paperwork got ‘lost’. Everyone in the department looked at me differently though.

At my lowest, I was licking peanut butter from anywhere I needed to just to be taken for a quarter-mile stroll. In the end however, it brought me no satisfaction. I always expected it to be as thrilling as I remember my first walk being, but it never was. Recovering walkaholics call this craving and letdown cycle “Chasing the squirrel.” 

Within a month I was pressured into an early retirement from the force, so my working days are behind me now. I still remember the chuckles from others in the office when someone joked that I was being given my “walking” papers. Real funny fellas, hope you enjoy the turds I left in your desk drawers. 

Since retirement, I have been taking it easy and trying to enjoy some much-needed R & R. It can be hard to do when you’re used to the daily grind like me, and also when you’re battling a pretty severe walking addiction. But hey, one day at a time, right? 

I’m often reminded of something my father used to tell me: “You can’t always be in a race around the track, sometimes you need to stop and smell the hydrants.” He was a wise dog. I miss him, but he’s in a better place now—A farm upstate. A tapeworm got stuck inside his intestines and required expensive surgery to fix it. Luckily, his retirement benefits kicked in so he was sent for surgery at the farm (from the best surgeon around they say!) and he will be recovering for many years. Although the surgery sounds quite serious, I’m glad he gets to spend all that time at a farm because he loves barking at chickens.

As for me, I will be sitting in the shade and taking long, cool sips of water from my bowl as I think about the glory days. I may have done some shameful things, but the good outweighed the bad by a mile. Who’s still a good boy? Me... that’s who.

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