This month’s blog is a very personal account of our dog, Freddie, who has sadly passed away at the grand old age of thirteen. If you are not a dog lover then you may find this account a tad boring but for those of you who are, and understand how dogs with their unconditional love, can really get under your skin, then please enjoy Freddie’s tale.
We adopted Freddie when he was about eighteen months old from the RSPCA in Chobham in Surrey. He had had a very poor start to his life and had been acquired by the RSPCA from a gypsy after a sharp eyed employee had seen Freddie along with his mother, chained up outside. The chain around Freddie’s neck had become so tight that his skin had grown over it and it was slowly strangling him. I would not have believed this if I hadn’t seen the photographs taken by the RSPCA where the chain had been cut out of his neck. The photographs were taken so that the charity could prosecute the owner but the gypsy disappeared so no action was taken. Freddie’s mother was in such a poor state that she was put to sleep.
I was driving through Chobham on a day off and on a whim, decided to go to the Kennels. We had been casually looking for a new dog for a few months (our previous dog had passed away nearly two years earlier). As I wandered along the line of Kennels, various dogs were barking and jumping up at the chain-mail fencing desperately seeking a little attention. It can be a heart breaking sight. Carole and I have always liked bigger dogs, and German Shepherd or a variation of, has always been our preference. I reached one kennel and there was a handsome shepherd-cross sat quietly leaning against its cage. He let me stroke his nose but didn’t seem too fussed, he just sat quietly. I phoned Carole, who was in Austria with her work, and said that I thought I had found our next dog and that I was going to reserve him so that she could meet him on the weekend.
With the office formalities out of the way I was allowed to take Freddie for a walk. He was pleased to be out but didn’t appear to care what or who was on the other end of his lead! He walked quite nicely with no real pulling, just plenty of sniffing and being generally nosy as dogs do. I called his name a couple of times, which at that time was ‘Blue’ but he didn’t respond. I’ve spent my whole life being ignored so there was nothing new there!! After the walk I returned to the office and expressed an interest in ‘Blue’ and that is when I learned his story. He had been at the RSPCA for about three months whilst they waited for his wounds to heal and for them to assess his suitability for adoption. That day was the first day he had been available for adoption and it did feel a little bit like fate.
Carole and I returned at the weekend and spent time in a large room playing with Blue and checking his aggression levels, but he didn’t appear to have any. He was quite happy for you to take a ball from his mouth and he just appeared to love to play. We were told that they didn’t think Blue had ever lived in a house so to expect damage and mess if we decided to adopt him. Undaunted we went ahead and said we wanted him and after having us and our home inspected to make sure we were suitable, a few days later I was driving Blue to our house. After a twenty minute drive, he hadn’t thrown up or poohed in the car. So far so good. We let him into the house and he basically nosed around, checking out each room in turn, found his bed and said ‘thank you very much, this will do’. Blue or Freddie as we named him was now our responsibility. I took three weeks off of work to train him and get him settled. Freddie was a German Shepherd cross with a Border Collie, incredibly intelligent and loved to learn new tricks. Although his coat was all ‘Shepherd’, his personality was mainly ‘Collie’. Freddie never did damage anything or mess in the house and after the three weeks I spent with him, we realised that he was going to be the perfect pet. He was sociable with other dogs, always came when you called his name and showed no signs of aggression to any living thing…..except cats! What is it about dogs and cats.
For a dog that had had such a poor start in life, he seemed very well adjusted and this was testament to the behaviorist who had looked after Freddie at the RSPCA. She had told me that she had wanted to adopt Freddie but her partner had said no as they already had three dogs, but she had done a first class job with him. There were the occasional signs that Freddie still had a few issues, after picking up a cane in the garden, Freddie ran into the house and didn’t reappear until I had put it down, he didn’t like his tail or his tummy touched but over time these things no longer bothered him. I would walk him first thing then again when I got home and last thing at night. During the day, Pat, the local dog walker would take Freddie out with a host of other dogs. Pat was a gentle guy who just preferred dogs to people. When walking Freddie through our local village of Bagshot, complete strangers would often ask us ‘Is that Freddie?’ He was well known in the village. He was a people dog. He would play with other dogs when he felt like it but most of the time he preferred human company. Whenever friends or family came to the house, Freddie was convinced that they had come to see him rather than us and that was quite often true. At Christmas he would often get more presents than us as the family and all of our wonderful neighbours would give him presents.
We had so many wonderful times with Freddie and he never ceased to make us laugh, whether it was chasing snowballs and not understanding where they went when they hit the ground or coming up to us with a ball and nudging us to play with him or nudging us for a little affection, running around in circles barking his head off as a train would pass under a footbridge at Bagshot station. Trains were his most fun. I had to time our evening walks so that he would see both trains passing through Bagshot of an evening or else he would linger by the station and I would have to put his lead on and coax him away. I decided to take him, one stop on the train one day thinking he would be so excited but actually he was coolness personified and just took it in his stride. That was so typical of Freddie.
There is a selection of your kind comments below from people whose hearts were touched by Freddie and we thank you for them
‘he was the perfect dog………..he felt like family’… ‘the best dog I have ever been with and we will remember him always’ Elliott
‘ best dog ever. God bless Freddie sleep tight, off to the big park in the sky’ Claire
‘l just keep remembering what a lovely dog he was , l remember at Bagshot going to my bag for his bones and he’d be chewing on them , and how he’d rush out the door , and he’d like to stroked between his ears’ Mum
‘what a lovely dog he was’ Andy, Meg, Billy and Danny
‘he really was the most wonderful dog and what a fantastic life……….’ Dee
‘he was such a lovely soul’ Avril
‘he was such a gorgeous boy………..run free Freddie’ Frances
‘such a beautiful boy’ Janice
‘A film star life for Freddie, in comparison to so many of his clan’ Tony and Noi
‘we will keep him always in mind as a nice but most of all sweet dog’ Jeannine and Georges
‘we haven’t known Freddie for long but loved him to bits. We so enjoyed his visits.’ Kay and Mike