Duke the dog just couldn’t seem to catch a break. Humans had abused him all his life, and now they’d abandoned him. So, with nowhere in the world left to go, he curled up on an abandoned couch, where he lived in the cold and the rain.
In one neighborhood in south Texas, residents were becoming used to what should have been an unusual sight. For days on end, a dog had been sitting on a battered old couch on the sidewalk. And, no matter the weather, he never seemed to budge.
All day and all night, come rain or shine, the pooch was there. He would only move when someone passing by threw him a scrap of food. Sometimes, if he was really hungry, he would scrounge through nearby garbage for a meal. After feeding, though, he would always return to the safety of his couch.
“The couch was tossed out on the curb,” a spokesperson wrote on Rescue Dogs Rock NYC’s Facebook page in April 2017. “We suspect that the couch belonged to his owners that moved and that Duke was patiently waiting their return. Sadly, that was never going to happen.”
And even though Duke remained there for days and weeks on end, none of the dog’s neighbors seemed to want to do anything. That was despite the fact that the dog was obviously in a bad way. Thankfully, though, a kind stranger finally took pity on him.
The concerned individual took to Facebook with a plea for help on behalf of the dog. “Can anyone rescue?” they wrote. “My mom said he’s roamed around here for a while. He has very bad mange to the point that he looks bloody. He is also very skinny.”
That’s how Leslie Ysuhuaylas came to find out about the desperate dog. Though she lives in Texas, Ysuhuaylas volunteers for the animal rescue organization Rescue Dogs Rock NYC. And she knew exactly what to do.
Specifically, Ysuhuaylas sent a volunteer to the scene as soon as was possible. They had some work on their hands, however, if they were going to win the dog around. “He was very scared, and he didn’t really trust people,” Ysuhuaylas explained to The Dodo in April 2017. “He was very wary.”
The volunteer quickly decided to name the dog Duke. And after spending a little time gaining his trust, she was able to lead him into her car. From there, she rushed him to a Dallas clinic.
At the clinic, vets treated Duke for dehydration, anemia, fleas, mange and cataracts. However, they were more concerned when they looked inside his mouth. Someone had filed his teeth down, and the revelation hinted at the possibility that he had once been a bait dog.
So-called bait dogs are used to train other dogs to fight. In fact, the fighting dogs are actually set on them to practice savaging other animals. However, the bait dogs’ owners ensure that they can’t fight back by taking away their natural defenses.
They may cruelly tether the dog to a tree or the ground so that they cannot escape the attack. They may even go a step further and secure the dog’s mouth shut, so they cannot bite. Or, as it appeared in Duke’s case, they might even file down the animal’s teeth or pull them out entirely.
And it was clear to see just by looking at Duke that he’d had a hard time in his two years of life. Not only had someone mutilated him, but infection had caused his fur to fall out. As a result, he was completely bald.
And his dire situation meant that Duke had a long road to recovery ahead of him. Consequently, he spent a month under constant care with the vets while he was recuperating. Fortunately, though, his hair began to return and his infections started to clear up during that time.
Happily, vets now expect him to make a full recovery – news that Leslie Ysuhuaylas naturally welcomed. She soon began to visit Duke regularly. And seeing him grow in confidence along the way delighted her.
“Yesterday I went to visit him, and he’s very, ‘Take me here, take me there,’” Ysuhuaylas revealed to The Dodo in April 2017. “It seems like he knows what he’s doing now. He’s much happier. And he’s very people-orientated.”
Once Duke had recovered, meanwhile, he traveled up to New York City to begin his new life. And after his arrival, Rescue Dogs Rock NYC put him up for adoption. He needed a peaceful home but could perhaps live alongside another dog, they thought.
In May 2017, moreover, Rescue Dogs Rock NYC took to Facebook with some very exciting news. “Couch dog – who we named Duke – has come a very long way since we rescued him,” they wrote. “Duke is a changed dog in every aspect of his life now.”
“He is a beloved family member who’s treated with kindness and respect, for the very first time,” they continued. “When we look at Duke and see him now, loved in his forever home, we know why we chose the path of rescuing the voiceless. We are honored to have been part of Duke’s journey to his new life.”
For the first time in his life, instead of being the victim of violence, Duke would be treated with love. Now he can prosper in his new home and, hopefully, never be left out in the cold and the rain ever again.