Just over four years ago, Neighborhood Times shared a tale of a little dog with a big name: Duke.
Most mornings, motorists and residents of downtown St. Petersburg watched as Duke, a poodle/Shih Tzu mix, would carry purchases – mainly bagels from Atlanta Bread Company back home to Bayfront Tower.
The morning ritual often stopped traffic as Duke and his owners, Bob and Marilyn Heitman, paraded along downtown streets on daily errands.
A note from Rock Hill, N.Y., where the Heitmans spend their summers recently arrived with sad news:
"Our little dog 'Duke' of 16 years slipped into the lake and drowned on July 16," read the copy of an e-mail the Heitmans sent to friends.
"Not sure how he got down to the lake; we thought all doors in the cabin and the gates were closed. We were so careful to keep them closed since he was blind, but somehow he got out."
By the time he was found, it was too late. He was gone, the letter continues.
Known by many as the "ABC" dog because his photo sat on the counter at Atlanta Bread, he was also considered a local celebrity to visitors of the Saturday Morning Market.
"Many of your subscribers in St. Petersburg knew him from his bagel-carrying days," wrote the Heitmans, who will return here in the fall.