“Duke”… What A Wonderful Movie

I’m not always attracted to “dog stories.” When I come across them in Guideposts, for example, I tend to pass them over for deeper ones. But something about this distinctive movie ad  – the soulful knowing look in Duke’s eyes and the sorrow in his owner’s – tugged my soul immediately…

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Have you ever watched a movie backwards

That’s what I did last Saturday.  If you are familiar with the Hallmark movie channel (sister to the regular Hallmark station), you know they often debut movies by showing them twice in a row – usually at 8 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.  I’d seen an ad for Duke earlier in the week that caught my eye, but forgetting about it I’d wasted time on something entirely miss-able from 8 to 9, then gone channel surfing. (How I miss the old clear style TV magazine guides we grew up with! Onscreen guides often leave frustrating messages of “unannounced” in time slots and I end up going from one thing to another.  Aarrgghh.  )  That’s when I landed in the middle of this beautiful movie… and remembered.


I didn’t want to wait and watch until midnight, so I just jumped in…immersing myself in the last hour and then the first as it rolled onscreen once more…  And this story and it’s characters haven’t left my mind or heart all week.

It gives you an unusual perspective… coming in on the crisis point, guessing at what’s come before, seeing the tender healing that comes full circle at the end.  And then, backtracking to where the love of God stepped in… for who else could have sent this wondrous dog to this shattered man so completely out of the blue (but NOT)?  When you see how he enters this man’s life… like a target messenger sent on a specific mission of unconditional love right to his feet…what other explanation is there than a loving Father whispering into Duke’s ear, Go boy.  Touch him with your healing, all-encompassing love.  For your love reflects Mine. No strings…no demands or remembrance of wrongs…just love.   Help Me open up his heart again and restore a life lost.

Faith is not portrayed in an obvious or overbearing way in this film based on the true story of a husband and dad returning from war, utterly broken emotionally.  Though he longs to, he’s unable to resume life as he knew it.  Yet faith is there…moving behind the scenes…  Sadly, some things are lost forever, but out of the sorrow emerges a restored father and daughter, a saved soul and a beautiful dog who almost seems to talk.

He understands everything we say, you know,” the lead character says once.  And everyone who touches him, including you as the viewer, would swear this dog does.

Towards the end, the man asks his daughter, “Do you think Duke will ever forgive me?” torn over something he’d had no choice but to do to help the dog.   There is still something new to be done between dad and daughter, but in her own desire to love and heal, the daughter says from her heart, “Dad, Duke knows you love him.  That’s all that matters...”

Pure love.  No grudges held.  No need for tested start-overs.  Just ever-continuing of a love that goes on unconditionally.  That’s the heart this dog brings to the man he adores.  And in doing so, sets a new course of healing in him as a person of worth, as a dad on a road back to his family.  I’ll just leave you with my conviction that this story could have gone a completely different way had our Father not sent Duke on his healing mission to this man and those he touched.

Other than that, I don’t want to give away any story details…for if you can catch this one, I highly recommend it!  They are replaying it several times again TODAY on the Hallmark movie channel, possibly tomorrow, and I’m sure it will continue to pop up again and again in coming weeks.

Last Reflection:  As I entered into this story, knowing it was based on a true one, God spoke into my heart how my old family dog came into our home for just such a time as this…for our Father knew the tragedy that was about to unfold.  And I saw a lesson of unconditional love in her that is still with me.  What a wonder dogs are…such a gift of God’s heart in so many lives…from seeing eye and handicap helpers…to just friends.  Oh to have that unconditional love of God in every situation!

Are you willing? He asks us.

Yes, Lord… oh, help me to be so. 

 ©  Pam Depoyan


 Sometimes such healing love may be found in a dog… or it could come in the form of a stranger’s smile, a teacher’s encouragement, a loving mother-in-law’s last words (as Diane posted recently)…but I believe God is constantly sending us messengers of His heart. 

What are the distinctive ones that have come to your life…like an angel…just when you needed them? 

Are you a different person because of them?


About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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8 Responses to “Duke”… What A Wonderful Movie

  1. Martha Herden says:

    Pam-this post really hit home with me-but from a different perspective of sorts-I am involved with our Local Library and have the honor of doing a Oral History Project-simply put, I interview many of our older folks and WWII Veterans! Each interview teaches me as to how powerful the love of God is in their hearts. I did get to interview a Vietnam Veteran and this is where it connects with your blog: He was a Dog Handler, working with the animal who was highly trained in sniffing out a bomb. One soldier told his story: My Dog’s name was Caesar and we had just been in an area where we had contact with the enemy. Suddenly as I tried to step forward, Caesar planted his body on my foot and would NOT move! I learned later that a 500 pound Bomb lay planted just in front of me and if I had moved, I would have been killed, along with many other fellow soldiers. We learned to “Listen” to our dogs.

    The other story is a tough one: Soldiers were Not allowed to take their dogs home with them and the Bond forged between them was something only Soldier and Dog understood. It was time for this soldier to leave and he knew, A Proper Goodbye to his trusted Dog had to be done. He walked up to the cage and for the Dog, this was a signal FOOD was on the way-but the soldier stood with his back against the cage and said “Now Listen, this is the way THEY run the war-I’m going, you’re staying-I don’t want you to forget my cause I won’t ever forget you.” As I started to walk away, suddenly the bowl being held my dog with his mouth, dropped and hit the concrete! I felt like a ton of lead just fell straight through me and when I turned to look at my dog, he lay flat on the concrete, head down-letting me know-he understood my words.”

    Can you imagine these soldiers having already been through Hell and back, now having to say Goodbye to their special “Friend!” I believe God brings all sorts of special Pets into our life and without doubt, they do become a member of the family.

    Thank you for letting me share this because its all true and for me, it shed a huge light on just a tiny piece of the horror of Vietnam.

    God bless you for this Post,

    Martha Herden

  2. Incredible stories, Martha. I’ve heard a few like those myself, but never directly from the person involved. In this movie, I think the war was more recent (Afghanistan), and dog was here in America, but the heart is the same. How interesting for you to interview these WWII vets. I did a post about my friend’s dad last year – she was interviewing him and I went along. “Of Days and Stars Written on the Heart” Touching to hear him talk of those days, courting during the war etc.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Martha Herden says:

      I owe the Thanks to you Pam-posts like these are very inspiring and help to open our hearts-maybe we don’t stay completely on the subject, but I would like to believe that is God working at HIS best in each of us. Yes-it is so powerful to sit beside a WWII veteran, having heard him already say “Now I am not gonna cry about any of this” and I assure them-thats okay, all we are doing is having a NICE conversation. I watch their face and you can see those Long ago memories surface and the tears start to flow-I give them all the time they need, and let them know-“Your heart is doing all the talking now!” Many Veterans have thanked me afterwards and said they were amazed at how much it helped them-like a weight being lifted from their shoulders and I would guess, a weight that goes clear through the soul.

      God bless all of our Veterans, young and old. Martha

  3. Yes, I do believe that God is working in and through each of our lives, Martha… I can imagine how powerful that must be for you, sharing with these men and encouraging them. I really enjoy talking with older people, getting their stories, hearing their hearts too. I’ve been talking a lot lately with an elderly woman at work, hearing her stories about raising her children and years of teaching… She brought some of her favorite kids books to share with me, and I introduced her to some. Something connecting about talking with them. God bless your work with these veterans. 🙂 I’m glad this post blessed you too 🙂 Hope you can see the movie sometime.

  4. Lolita Valle says:

    …. as it would me. I wish I could find a DVD copy of Duke soon. Perhaps, it is airing too on Hallmark here in our country but we don’t have a cable subscription at home.

    I do hope I could find a copy. I love dog stories, all of them…. it tells of the love between man and pet…. so tangible and deep. Two of these that I can remember are Hachi-2009 and Eight Below-2006. When his master was passed away, Hachi kept coming to the station to meet him until he got old-so loyal and full of hope that one day, hew would come home…. and find him waiting.

    Such a bond could never be broken.

    • Yes, I saw Hachi too… very moving how that dog continued to look for his master so many years, but sad that it couldn’t connect with anyone else. If this film comes out on DVD (which I would bet it would), I’ll let you know. I’m not sure if I ever saw Eight-below… I love the stories that show the human part of the story relating to the dog, and this is one of those. Yes, the love between man and dog is a beautiful picture of His love… Thanks, Lolita…

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