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Oct 29

Written by: Diana West
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:41 PM 

John Clore, Duke and friends. Photo by Jennifer Kneuss

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While working on this week's forthcoming column, I came across the story below about Duke, the bomb-sniffing dog and companion of the late Lance Cpl. Peter Clore. I wrote about Lance Cpl. Clore, who was killed in action in May 2011, in this column

The Marines turned over their last base in Afghanistan earlier this week, but that doesn't mean the war ends, as this March 20, 2013 story by Jennifer Kneuss, tells us.

"Fallen Marine's Bomb-Sniffing Dog Comes Home to New Phila":

IDD Marine Corporal Duke is home, honorably discharged after a several years of brave and valiant service in the U.S. Marine Corps. Corporal Duke, however, is of the four-legged variety – the highly trained military working dog has spent his career protecting U.S. Marines, sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan.

Corporal Duke was the beloved companion of his handler, Lance Cpl. Peter James Clore of New Philadelphia. Clore and Duke were on patrol in Afghanistan on May 28, 2011, when the Lance Cpl. was hit by enemy fire. Peter Clore died instantly, leaving a bewildered Duke behind.

“Peter’s fellow Marines told us that when they put him in the chopper, it took everything they had to keep Duke from jumping in with him,” explained Peter’s mother Chris Clore. “Peter had often told us funny stories about Duke and his loyalty.

When Peter was brought home to be laid to rest in June 2011 with full military honors, one of Peter’s military friends suggested the possibility of the family adopting Duke. 

“We didn’t want to take Duke out of service as a working bomb dog and keep him from saving another soldier’s life. We knew that was what Peter would have wanted, so we let it go. In October 2011, we met Duke for the first time when we traveled to Camp Lejeune, NC for a memorial service with Peter’s battalion,” said Chris softly, adding, “Duke was re-deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.”

 On February 20, 2013, the Clore family received a call.

“Duke was being honorably discharged, and they asked if we would consider adopting him. It was unanimous with us and Sarah (19), George (22) and John.” John is the only child at home, and is a sixth grader at Immaculate Conception Elementary in Dennison. “The fear of the unknown, more questions to ask, it didn’t matter – how could we turn down this opportunity? So we said yes.”

On March 7, John’s 12th birthday, Cliff, Chris and John Clore drove to Virginia to adopt Duke.

“They told us that Duke would be brought into the conference room where we were, and that he would search the entire room before acknowledging anyone. That was his job.” Peter’s mother paused, her eyes tearing up at the memory of what happened next. “They brought him in and he started around the room, but he didn’t make it five feet before he went directly to John. Then he went another few feet and went right to Cliff and I, and started affectionately nuzzling us, too.”

The kennel staff were surprised at the dog’s unexpected response, and later told the Clores that it seemed Duke sensed their connection to Peter.

The 60-pound black lab, who will be four in June, has settled happily into the home where the scents of Peter and his new family surround him.

“The funny thing is how quickly he adapted. For a few days, he held himself in the ‘working position,’ tail tucked and ears alert, all the time. Now he’s completely at home. In fact, he and I were alone in the house the other day, and I left the room. When I came back, he was sitting upright and proud on the couch, Marmaduke-style. And when Sarah got up from a nap, left the room, and then returned, Duke was stretched out right where she had been, and had his head resting on her pillow.”

An employee from the kennel, MaryBeth Moser, told the family: “I do have to tell you that it is rare to see such a dedicated working canine that is so loving and eager to please. I am sure some of it is in his nature, but I feel a larger credit has to go to your son. His handling of Duke surely encouraged this bonding nature or created it entirely.”

“Duke is the best and only present that John wanted for his birthday,” said a grateful Chris Clore. “We are thankful for the blessing of having Duke in our family.”

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