My Incredible Pet: Duke

Duke had been at the Charlotte Humane Society less than 24 hours when Linda Matarese, of Indian Trail, knew he was “The One.” Little more than a year old, Duke was gentle and sweet, but was surrendered by previous owners who said he needed “too much attention.” Now, Duke basks in the love of his forever family, as well as the senior adults and special-needs children he regularly visits as a therapy dog. Linda tells his story.

At first sight: My 21-year-old son, Trevor, went with me last January to adopt a dog. Duke had just been brought to the facility that day, and when let out of his enclosure, he basically jumped up on Trevor and gave him a hug. But we couldn’t adopt him till the following day, because staff wanted to make sure he was healthy first.

Constant companion: The next morning, I got there 20 minutes after they opened, but Duke wasn’t in his cage. I thought I was too late, but he had been so miserable without human company, a worker had brought him into her office. I’m retired and my husband works from home, so it was a perfect fit. Duke rides with me when I run errands. He loves to stick his head out the window and get dog biscuits at the bank.

Mr. Congeniality: Because he’s so gentle – anyone can pet Duke anywhere, anytime – I got in touch with Therapy Dogs Inc. Now, at least once a month, he visits with senior adults and has a standing date with one classroom of special-needs children at an area residential school.

‘Like John Wayne’: Some of the seniors Duke visits don’t hear very well, so when they ask his name, I’ll follow up with “Like John Wayne.” One woman with no immediate family has just Duke’s photo in a frame. It warms my heart that he brings such joy to so many people, especially our family. Hilary Trenda



Go to, scroll down to the Incredible Pet contest and follow the instructions from there.