Monday, May 16, 2005

Remembering Fred

Old Fred, my parents' elderly dog who came to live out his golden years on the farm, has left us. We believe he has died, but we are not completely sure. He disappeared two weeks and two days ago. We have seen no sign of him, and we have not found him in "doggie jail".

Fred came into my parents' life in dramatic fashion some 10 years ago. We were living with them as we transitioned from RI to TX, and with us had come our first baby, our lab mutt Lucy. Lucy was 4 at the time, and as I recall it happening, one weekend afternoon my father was sitting out on the porch reading the paper when Lucy started barking at the porch. Suddenly out from under the porch burst big fluffy Fred.

Fred hung around, despite being discouraged (especially by my dad), and eventually managed to worm his way into even Dad's dog-opposing heart. The vet figured he was quite a bit older than Lucy, that he had been well cared for at some point in his life, and that he had probably been abandoned. My parents' search for his owner was unsuccessful, and he became part of the family. He was named "Fred" at the suggestion of my parents' dear friends visiting from England. Apparently "Fred" is like the British equivalent of "Rover": a generic name for a dog.

Fred and Lucy fell in love. They were miserable when separated, which they usually were since not long after Fred appeared we moved 2 hours west of my parents. Eventually we decided that we'd all be happiest if Fred and Lucy lived together, so they began a nomadic life of visits with us and visits with my parents.

Fred had his share of adventure. We have no idea what kind of stories he'd have told of his life before my parents, but while in their care he was hit in their driveway by a visiting teenager backing a car out in the dark (broken leg) as well as attacked by something, the vets believe a cougar, that left him quite torn up. He had a lengthy recovery from both.

Lucy died a year and a half ago, at close to 14, and Fred was miserable. By then we owned some of our land but not the house, so we brought her body up here to bury in the pines. We brought Fred with us; it just seemed like the right thing to do. He didn't seem too affected by her body; he was almost disinterested. But when we got back to my parents' he fell into a long depression. He hardly ate anything for the first week. He would lie around and whimper; it was heartbreaking.

Fred was an old old dog. We don't know how old, but if he was even the same age as Lucy (and the vet thought he was older) he would have been 15 now. He had gone from jet black to quite grey in the face, had hip trouble and was a, well, very audible breather. When he came here in December, Molly was in heat and just about killed Fred with her constant demands for his attentions. He did his best, and in fact almost seemed to drop a few years thanks to Molly's birth by fire into the rigors of farm life. A lot is demanded of a farm dog... one must be fit, you know.

While he lived here he spent most of his time lying in the dirt or barking at cows. When he could get up from the dirt he would make his way to the pond for a swim sometimes, but mostly he liked to bark at cows. He was not the smartest dog, nor the sweetest smelling (in fact Fred had an odor problem that defied even my parents' local pet spa). But he was loyal and constant... the giver and receiver of much love over the years.

Thank you Fred. You were a good dog.

1 comment:

The Morris Family said...

I'm so sorry! The first dog I got after moving out of my parents house died this past winter and I was devastated.

The other thing I was going to say is a comment on the post you wrote previous to this one. When I'm out on our property I always feel that I'm more in the presence of God than, say, when I'm cooking in the house or even at church. There's just something about being in the middle of His creation and with so much peace surrounding you. It's unbelievable. :)