PORTSMOUTH — A downtown fixture, hospital volunteer and unlikely political candidate, "Duke" the beagle died last Friday, announced his 13-year companion, “Irish Mike” Haren.
Duke was welcome in many Market Square coffee shops and most homes where Haren was hired to work as a contractor, he said. Together they visited patients at children's and veteran's hospitals throughout New England and as far away as Washington, he recalled. Haren said he and his pooch would visit young patients in Boston once a month and were regular visitors to veteran's hospitals in New Hampshire and Mass.
When the Police Department was facing challenges, Haren made a poster with Duke's photo and taped it to the back of his work van announcing Duke was a candidate for Police Commission. He said he wasn't sure how it would be perceived in town, but police officers took photos of it and people told him they wrote in votes for Duke.
"They all loved it," Haren said Thursday.
"It's tough," he said about the loss of his longtime companion. "I knew it was time and I said I wouldn't let the poor guy suffer."
Haren said he took Duke for his last coffee shop visits last Friday - to Popover's on the Square and Port City Coffee Roasters - then to a veterinarian's office.
Duke's campaign poster is still on the back of his work van.