They say a dog is man’s best friend. They’re not wrong. A dog is so much more than a pet. It’s a member of your family, a huge part of your life, and when they die, they leave a huge gaping hole. On Monday night, we said goodnight to our beautiful Freddie for the last time, and that hole feels bloody enormous at the moment.
Freddie came bounding into our lives about seven years ago, all long legs and ginger fur. We already had a dog, Kai, who we adored (and still do!), but Freddie soon found his place in our home and in our hearts.
He hadn’t had the easiest start to life. My mum and dad had him from a rescue centre, where he had already been rehomed several times. He had so much energy that people didn’t seem to be able to manage him. He never lost that energy or that playfulness until the very end, when cancer took over his beautiful body.
All dogs are special, but Fred was one of a kind. We often joked that he thought he was a human. He would regularly sit on the chairs and eat his dinner at the table.
Freddie was a natural comedian. We only had to look at him and he made us laugh. He got up to all sorts of mischief, destroying the house on more than one occasion in his quest to find something yummy to eat. He had been neglected as a puppy and as a result was very food orientated. If it was within reach, he would have it. Joints of meat regularly disappeared, sausages weren’t safe. Even when he was poorly and struggled to walk in his last few weeks, he still managed to snaffle a bowl of salmon!
His energy and playfulness meant that he never seemed to age. Even in his final moments, he had his head in a bin, and bounding as much as he could around the room, before lying down for his last sleep. Even at almost ten years old and over 6 stone in weight, he was a puppy at heart. He would dive out the back door into the garden, skidding and crashing into everything. When he first started limping a few weeks ago, we all assumed that he had bashed himself during one of his mad moments.
He was a big dog, but a gentle giant. People often crossed the road when they saw my dad walking him, especially if Kai (a huge German Shepherd) was with them as well. In truth, Fred didn’t have an aggressive bone in his body. You were more likely to be licked to death by him. He had the patience of a saint with the kids, who would pull at his tail and poke and prod him. When he had enough, he would just go and lie in the kitchen or by the window.
In the last few weeks, he started limping, and eventually struggled to walk. For a dog with so much energy, who loved nothing better than bounding across the park or the beach, it was difficult to see him just lying there. He began to lose the mischievous sparkle in his eyes and the wag in his tail. He had x rays and tests to see what was wrong, and on Monday night my dad had the call to say they had found cancer. There was nothing that could be done, and my dad made the decision to let him go. We all went up to the vets, and said our final goodbyes to him.
As far as a death can go, it was peaceful and dignified. He lay on a soft blanket, with us all around him when he took his last breath. He just looked like he had gone to sleep, free of pain. Knowing this makes it easier, but our hearts are still breaking.
Dogs come into our lives asking for very little. Food, water, warmth, walks and a pat on the head is all they want, but they give so much more back to us. They show us what unconditional love and loyalty is. They’re called man’s best friend for a reason. And Freddie was our best friend.
The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….