I'm sorry I've left everyone hanging about my predicament with Duke. Allow me to remedy that situation...
One thing about me is that I tend to rationalize everything; I will mentally create every possible scenario so that there are no surprises. When it came to Duke, euthanasia was a possibility from the first day I met him. As time went on, it became plan B, then M, then Z. Biting "Jane" brought that back to plan A or B, as the wife and daughters were not in favor of putting him down even then.
But on Sunday I got a surprise, and I hate surprises. If you need a happy ending, this isn't it, and I'd just stop now. On Saturday night Duke got a piece of a blanket stuck in his teeth, and was gagging on it. Joe (the family's son) opened his mouth and reached in to pull it out. Duke, panicked already, tried to bite Joe several times and succeeded in biting his hand- he needed 3 stitches. (As a side note, Duke was not choking or in danger of dying- just making that awful dog coughing noise).
Their vet recommended that Duke undergo quarantine at their boarding facility, then be euthanized. So that is where Duke is now. In an isolation kennel, without exercise or familiarity, undoubtedly terrified. I'm a wreck. This is the second situation that could have easily been prevented, and Duke is paying the price.
I should also say that I want Duke. I want to take him and save him and give him a stable, perfect life. But I don't live in a vacuum; there are other opinions that matter more than mine. My family, for one, do not want a giant dog that they need to tip toe around in our little house. My dogs, for another, are loud and energetic and Duke may react poorly to that. He loved them on a leash walk, but has only lived with an elderly lab that will wag his tail at anything. What would Duke do when Skye jumped on him, barking and growling to play? I don't know. But Duke doesn't go half way- if he reacts, he does damage.
Duke would spend a lot of time alone, require a separate exercise routine, and may get worse with age. But I would still take him, I would make this all work with some version of Disney magic, if I had some sort of guarantee. Not even a guarantee, because I think that's a cop out. But if I were to give this family a shimmer of hope that I might take Duke, even for a weekend to see how the dogs interact, and have it not go well? It would be devastating for them. If Duke broke skin again and had to endure another 10 days in isolation? I can't even imagine.
Essentially I'm giving up. I haven't been able to sleep, my mind is on Duke all the time, but I'm just going in circles. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I keep thinking about the little things that would change this whole situation: if it were a few years from now, when I'm established in my own place with a solid work schedule; if Duke were anything smaller than what he is; if the family had followed the rules. But life doesn't follow rules, and people aren't perfect. I can say that I already regret my decision, but it is the only one I can make. So here's to Duke; a Dane that deserved better in a world that ultimately failed him.