Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

February 26, 2011

Duffy’s last great escape!

 Our pet terrier Duffy was killed on Sunday evening as he tried to run across the road.

Duffy RIP

Those of you who have stayed here for a course will remember him as a cute little black and white dog sitting with his bottom against the Aga (cooker). He was friendly, always on the lookout for tidbits and just a bit of a scoundrel! He liked to play and was always ready to join in games indoors and out.

If you are one of those students who wanted to take him out for a walk you will also remember that we warned you that given the chance he would run away. Many people didn’t believe us and came back with an empty lead and the dog down a rabbit hole underground scuffling and barking – he would stay there for hours returning only when it started to get dark and he was dirty, hungry and tired. Duffy was, above all, a great adventurer!

 Although he enjoyed the warmth of the kitchen and the comfort of our home he was unable to resist the smell of rabbits and the call of wide open spaces. Many a time we’ve trampled the local fields looking for him or received phone calls from worried neighbours who have seen him trotting along the road in search of adventure!

Imogen sporting Duffy's rosettes

The first time he escaped he was just six months old! He didn’t go very far but did manage to find his way into someone’s house where he started an argument between the adults and the children as to whether they could keep him or not!  Duffy had a reputation in the village for squaring up to dogs much bigger than him and the most famous example of this was when he had a huge fight with a local sheep dog during the handsomest dog class at the local dog show in the village.

His vision of himself was far bigger than the sum of his parts and this was his charm! He never held back and was always ready for something new!

When we got a second dog he took charge and led this new and unsuspecting playmate into all kinds of  mischief.   He loved being around people, the chance of a snack or a game with one of us but he loved the lure of the outside world even more.

Duffy with our other dog Maguire

 It was his oyster and he took every opportunity to escape and explore. We would often be out listening for his bark down a rabbit hole, trying to entice him out with treats and having to wait until he was ready to emerge. On a couple of occasions he stayed out all night and we found him curled up under the car in the morning. Other times he would appear covered in mud and sand but contented – he was one of the most bathed dogs around!

He loved the coal shed, the wood shed, running around the tennis court after the ball but mostly breaking free and finding a new set of rabbit burrows or a new dog to play with. He loved us too. He enjoyed nothing more than a game of ball on the lawn in the summer,to chase around in the leaves we had just raked in the autumn and to bark loudly at snowmen the children had made in the winter.

Duffy and the cats Nip and Tuck

He loved everybody and we all loved him. We miss him terribly. He was part of our family, he was part of Fleetham Lodge and the experience people had when they stayed with us but he was also much bigger than all of this. When I think about his life – 6 years – it was one of pushing boundaries, taking chances and never settling for the status quo.

He looked at the wide open spaces and he couldn’t resist going out there to see what they might hold. He was truly a risk taker, an explorer, restless and curious. His 6 years were filled with adventure and that made him truly alive and fun to be with.

We worried about him, we got very annoyed with him but we also admired his spirit, I think we can all learn a lot from Duffy

His last great escape was spectacular – he tried to cross the A1 ( the major road running from London to Edinburgh). Sadly he failed this one time but he set his sights high. We too must set our sights high, we have to take risks, to fail in order to achieve.  We should be prepared to push the limits.

Saying Goodbye

We were lucky enough to be able to bring him home and place him in our garden in one of his favourite spots. We all feel very sad, we miss him but we are also inspired by him.

My daughter once said that he was a little dog with a big ambition. A ‘vaulting ambition’ which did o’erleap itself” sadly.

This is his epitaph but it also reminds us never to limit ourselves. We can all have great ambition and be so much more than we are.



  1. Berni,

    Am speechless here.
    Your heartfelt epitaph honours Duffy greatly.
    Thank you for reminding us “We too must set our sights high, we have to take risks, to fail in order to achieve. We should be prepared to push the limits.”
    RIP Duffy, you did inspire us all!

    Comment by Alexandra Francisco — February 26, 2011 @ 10:26 am | Reply

    • Thank you Alex. You of course met him and knew what he was like. Maguire is a little lost but also getting a lot of attention at the moment which is good for him. We still can’t quite believe it!

      Comment by rliberni — February 26, 2011 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  2. What a beautiful, bittersweet piece, Berni! “His vision of himself was far bigger than the sum of his parts and this was his charm!” just beautiful. He lead a great little life, it seems. RIP Duffy, you great adventurer!

    Comment by Marian Steiner — February 26, 2011 @ 9:17 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Marian for your lovely comment. Bittersweet is the word! We miss him very much but he couldn’t help himself always off on a big adventure and his instinct made him do this. It’s not really possible to stop such a strong instinct – and should we?

      Comment by rliberni — February 26, 2011 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

  3. Berni, What an amazingly inspirational little chap – I’m so sorry xxxxx

    Comment by Amanda Wilson — February 26, 2011 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Amanda. Very sad but I can see that his determination for adventure was such a strong part of who he was and he had a happy and fulfilled life I think.

      Comment by rliberni — February 26, 2011 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

  4. Berni,
    What a beautiful tribute to such a special friend. Duffy lived his life as we all should, loving every minute of it.

    Comment by JoAnnJ68 — February 27, 2011 @ 3:05 am | Reply

    • Thank you JoAnn you are right he certainly did and that’s the inspiration of his little life.

      Comment by rliberni — February 27, 2011 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  5. Sympathies.

    My Jack Russell “Roly” had the same ‘escape’ plan. I loved him to bits, and it was very difficult to understand that he had been killed by a car.

    “He was having fun – stupid dog!”. We all knew that wasn’t 100% true, bit it still works for me. Loved that stupid dog, and burying him in a corner of our garden was very important.

    Think happy Duffy thoughts – eating slippers?


    Comment by Jim — March 1, 2011 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Jim for sharing this. Yes we will think these – eating a £5 note!!
      It’s so hard to believe it, I keep expecting him to come running up the lawn or rushing through our legs to get to the door.
      He was also a Jack Russell (cross) but it’s really in their nature isn’t it. I think he really did have 9 lives.

      Comment by rliberni — March 1, 2011 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

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