Duke rarely barks. He would do his usual walk around the house, survey the area, keeping a mindful look out for anything unusual. He would pick up the wayward litter,casually dropped by his keeper when he takes out the trash. In the night when all were asleep, he would rest near the doorstep,keeping vigil. His gaze would be fixated on any passerby and ready to pounce on any stranger who has the audacity to trespass. He rarely barks and did his work dutifully.
Bruno was never missed by his keeper. His presence is always felt. He would follow his keeper wherever he went. He barks at the slightest anomaly, including the occassional rebel leaf from the neighbour that found its way across the fence. When opportunity arised,he would strut towards his keeper,parading the squeaking pest in his jaws - the pest that was snatched rudely from the paws of the neighbourhood cat who hunted it.
In spite of their differences, Duke and Bruno never had any rivalry between them. The only time they fought was playtime, solely for the entertainment of the keeper's child, KJ.
It was under new moon and the winds were high. A stealthy shadow leapt across the fence and took cover in the garden shed in a single swift motion. Fast but not enough to escape Duke's sight. Duke stood his ground and guarded the house entrance still. His gaze never left the fugitive. As long as the escaped prisoner stayed in the shed, he was no threat to the family and Duke intended to leave it that way. Nevertheless, Duke adjusted to a crouching position,ready to pounce should shadow take another step towards the house. Further up north along the street, the flashing lights of the local patrol could be seen.
Bruno roused from his slumber, glanced at Duke and realised something was amissed. He followed the gaze of Duke and barely made out a man sitting in the garden shed. Bruno leapt up, ran round the courtyard excitedly and woke the entire neighbourhood with his incessant barks.
The fugitive panicked. He had to think fast. From his position, he could see the patrol approaching. The barking dog had effectively blocked his escape into the street. He was not prepared to test the truthfullnes of the adage - a barking dog never bites. His alternative was to hold someone hostage in this house. He'd rather die fighting than return to the cell and face the noose. A hatchet hung harmlessly on the shed and turned evil in the hand of the fugitive. Shadow dashed for the main door. Duke pounced. Bruno watched as the hatchet landed on Duke's shoulder while Duke landed squarely on Shadow's chest. Dog and man sprawled on the grass. The hatchet flung into the bushes. Duke would have gone for Shadow's throat but was too weak. Shadow was disoriented but quick to pick himself up and dash into the street southwards, only after he kicked that barking dog out of his path. Bruno laid whining and wheezing with a couple of broken ribs. He would never be able to bark as he used to. Duke, totally exhausted and bleeding profusely, remained fixated on Shadow as he diminished down the street with the patrol on his heels. A couple of gun shots were heard and that's the last anyone in the neighbourhood saw Shadow. Duke took a final look at the house. Saw Keeper and family safe and sound. He closed his eyes for the final time, knowing he had kept the family safe.
Keeper missed Bruno's bark. In fact,he missed those days when Bruno would run around the house,chase after birds or leaves and any little things that excited him. KJ is no longer a child. KJ will soon be told that Bruno's health had deteriorated and he would need to take Bruno to the town vet. Keeper is sure that KJ will brightened up when he present a puppy to KJ. However,Keeper is determined that he will only keep one dog. Keeper knows exactly the type of dog he wanted.
KJ is at the pet cemetary. He placed Duke's favourite biscuit on the ground. He remembered how Duke would always break his fall when he was a toddler. Or how Duke would snuggle up to him and lick his face when he felt all alone in the sand pit. Duke never failed to find his lost toy or shoes. He remembered vavidly how Duke had heroically saved the family on that fateful night. He had witnessed the entirely episode but no one cared what he saw because he was just a kid.