If you’ve only known me for the past four years, it’s unlikely that you’ve known that we had a second dog. Because of the rules in the various condos/homes we’ve lived in, our oldest dog, Fred (a behemoth of a Black Lab) couldn’t live with us. My mom and older brother were gracious enough to take him in, rather than forcing us to find another family for him.
Fred died over the weekend. He was 14. I’ve been in a little bit of a funk ever since I found out. He was the cowardly lion that I just couldn’t say no to. He came to us via a no-kill shelter in Texas when he was 4. The first time we met, he shoved his whole 60+ pound body between my legs and sat there. He would do that often.
He didn’t like the water, so he never swam in our pool, which I always thought was bizarre.
He would take ever chance he could to lay in our laps. Imagine a hair fourth grader trying to curl up on your lap and take a nap. That was Fred.
He snuck food off of my TV tray.
He’d grab my arm with his massive paw to get me to pet him.
He loved to ‘rassle.
He would let our chihuahua curl up on his big torso, and they would sleep, stacked, for hours at a time.
I’ve had many dogs, but Fred was special.
In the later years of his life, when I would go to visit him, we would recognize me and my commands for him less and less. I imagined this was due to his loyalty to his new home. This was fine. His loyalty was almost cliche, if it weren’t so endearing.
I don’t see any of my dogs as “family members”, they have always been pets, animals to care for, and to be a steward of, but Fred’s passing has made a different mark on me, making me rethink some of my own training to how an animal fits in the family unit. Maybe that’s because Im getting older, maybe its because my perspective is changing, I don’t really know.
I just know I’m going to miss that dog.