Hallmark Movie Channel premiered "Duke," the story of love between a wounded man and his dog, on April 28, 2012. The movie stars Steven Weber, Sarah Smyth, Allison Hossock, Kendal Cross and Martin Cummins. Duke is portrayed by two Border Collies, Zeek and Tanner, who take turns in the role.
Steven Weber (“Wings,” “Brothers & Sisters”) stars in a touching story, inspired by true events, of the special relationship between a broken, homeless vet and his only constant companion and soulmate, a Border Collie named Duke.
Marine Sergeant Terry Pulaski (Steven Weber), was a once proud man, proud to be a Marine and a husband and father. He has returned home from Afghanistan with both PTSD and a disabling injury. The movie shows the debilitating effect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can affect people who have endured stressful events.
Terry's wife, Bethany (Kendall Cross) and daughter welcome him home, but are at a loss as to how to heal his wounded spirit. Terry struggles to be a good husband and father and hopes to return to active military service. When the doctor tells him that he needs another surgery, but that will not return him to combat-ready status, Terry becomes seriously depressed.
Duke is a stray dog who adopts the family and becomes Terry's constant companion and comfort. When Bethany throws a welcome home party for Terry on the Fourth of July, Terry has terrifying flashbacks and ends up huddled with Duke.
Ten years later, Terry and Duke are seen are living in an old RV parked in his friend Javier’s (Martin Cummins) carport. Terry walked out on his wife and daughter shortly after the Fourth of July episode. Terry has been making some money doing odd jobs for people in the neighborhood.
Duke has been Terry's chief companion for ten years. When the dog becomes seriously ill, Terry is frantic because he cannot afford a vet. Terry takes Duke to a nearby veterinary clinic, hoping a doctor (Allison Hossack) will ease his pet's final hours. The assistant asks Terry to fill out paperwork, but instead Terry writes a heartbreaking letter to the veterinarian.
Fortunately for Duke, the vet is a compassionate, caring woman who decides to try to save the dog. She invests her own money into tests and treatments, even though the clinic is struggling financially. She also has an investor, representing a group that wants to buy out the clinic, constantly reminding her that the clinic is not a charity. The staff at the clinic roots for Duke, and surprisingly, the dog recovers.
In the meantime, Terry is suffering from remorse for deserting Duke at the vet's clinic, and for deserting his wife and daughter ten years earlier. He feels like a failure and does not know how to fix it. He leaves his friend's backyard and parks at a church, where he gets side work helping with a Father's Day pancake breakfast.
When Duke is fully recovered, the vet and her staff starts to search for his owner by putting out fliers and contacting media. Terry's daughter, Alice, sees the fliers and realizes that her father must still be alive, so she starts to search for him. Alice is married and is expecting a baby. Her mother passed away two years earlier.
A community of strangers comes together to reunite the wounded veteran and his beloved Duke, and Terry finds healing and a new meaning in life.
"Duke" stars Steven Weber ("Tom, Dick and Harriet," “Wings,” “Brothers & Sisters”). Sarah Smyth (“50/50,”) Allison Hossack (“Battle of the Bulbs,” “Reaper”), Kendall Cross (“Caprica”) and Martin Cummins (“V”). Border Collies, Zeek and Tanner take turns as Duke.
“Duke” is produced by Vet Street Productions. Gerald W. Abrams is the executive producer and Harvey Kahn is the producer. Mark Jean directed from a script by Michael J. Murray.
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