I fell in love with Fred instantly when I came across his picture on the Web. My Golden Retriever had died suddenly of a ruptured hemagiosarcoma, and I decided to check dog rescue sites to see if I could find a dog who needed a home. I knew the danger of moving too quickly to “replace” a beloved dog, but my house was too empty, I was too old to wait, and there were dogs out there who needed a home.
I never dreamed that I would find a dog as endearing and compatible as Fred. He was so perfect in every way. We started calling him Freddy Fuddy Duddy the first night he came to live with us, because he made his preferences plain. He was so dear! He amiably followed me everywhere and seemed very comforted by the howling plush monkey that Joe and Pat had included as his favorite toy. Over time, he acquired a huge collection of plush toys that made strange noises he delighted in, and he was fond of assembling some of the silliest ones and squeezing them relentlessly if I was on the telephone – a practice he never understood. He was an absolute affection glutton and wanted nothing more than long sessions of loving. When I wasn’t on the floor with him, he lay with his front legs crossed, a heart-melting pose that I later learned was an expression of his nervousness. He slept with his tongue adorably poked out, probably because of his missing teeth. We stay up very late, but when Fred decided it was bedtime that first night, he found the dog bed in our bedroom and sacked out in it. Later, when I did my yoga exercises on a towel in the bedroom, he got up and laid down next to me, probably thinking that this was a new sleeping arrangement. As fussy as he was, Fred always went with the flow.
Fred never barked or made any sounds, except in his sleep or at the Bark Park, if he saw a fight. He always felt it his duty to intervene and keep the peace. He didn’t like the beach party and he didn’t like the one vacation we took him on, to my sister’s house in Indiana. He made his low opinion of these things very clear. He loved his home and he loved the campus (where students always made a big fuss over him) and he loved to go with us wherever we went. At home, he was never more than a couple feet away from me.
Fred was such a mellow and polite dog. He was a little clumsy, but he compensated for that by being very careful about some things. He would inch his way onto the sofa with me and very gradually writhe his way onto his back for his beloved belly scratches. In the morning, he would gingerly climb into bed to nuzzle me awake. It’s so hard to think of life ahead without these things.
I hate thinking back and wondering if some of Fred’s cautiousness might have been from chronic pain. When he became obviously distraught a couple weeks ago, I took him repeatedly to the vet, but they were unable to diagnose anything wrong with him that seemed related to his symptoms. Even in 3 trips to emergency clinic in Huntingtown over 12 hours this past weekend, the vets were unable to detect any problem. Fred stopped breathing after he was mildly sedated for a scoping of his throat, and the autopsy showed that he was filled with tumors and leakage in his abdomen. The vets said that they would never have suspected a dog who looked as healthy as Fred could have been so sick.
For a little over 2 years, Fred was my life. He lit up everything for me. I shall never forget his beauty and his goodness and the little heart-shaped white spot on his head that I loved to kiss. It was irresistible. These memories hurt so much right now, but I know that someday they will bring me some pleasure. I am so grateful for the time I had with Fred. I didn’t waste a moment of it. He basked in immense and constant love here, and he knew it. Life is so painfully empty without him.