14th June 2020
Freddie passed away
Freddie arrived a spirited yet a harshly neglected young dog just over three years ago. Our dear Jack Russell, Jack, had passed away but it was old age but still the tears fell relentlessly at our loss. Freddie came from Dogs in Distress so we knew that his life had not been an easy one. He was a Jack Russell but as it turned out there most definitely was a mixture of Staff, Hound and Russell. The back feet were out of proportion with the rest of his body but we loved him and in his funny way he learned to trust us and as we now know today he put aside the fact that he was dying to try and remain there for us. My selfish denial made me look each day for whatever was positive to convince myself that he was on the path to recovery. But I was so wrong and the tears flow from my eyes tonight at his resilience and will to survive and my pure selfishness and refusal to see what Kevin had been telling me for weeks “The dog is dying”.
Three years is such a short period of time to have a dog but in my long life these three years presented some very serious challenges. Freddie has seen me through each of these challenges and now yet again I am alone, without a canine companion. First it was breast cancer; then it was the sudden death of my mother while I was going through chemotherapy and then these last few horrific months of COVID-19 and it was revolving around the routine of Freddie which was so predictable that I could hold on, like a child on a merry go round – if you don’t hold on, you fall. They say that people who have experienced mental health problems in their lives, contrary to what you would expect, have in fact a better resilience to cope with this severe pandemic COVID-19 and therefore are better survivors than others. All I know is Freddie helped me stay on track and I am broken hearted. Three years and three of the most significant events one could have and now Freddie has passed on too. I thought I would never cry again, I thought life has made me so hard and bitter that there would be no tears. I cried so much in my life especially as a child and into my thirties that I found life hard and tended to avoid situations that would cause me sadness and that was hard because in my head there were all those fears of loss – my mum, my dog, KT who thankfully remains with me.
Freddie and routine. He had his morning walk with KT. The other day there was a problem. He was at the top step of the stairs and all of a sudden he fell the 7 steps and when I tried to lift him he whelped but I waited and stoic as always he rose to the occasion and we went for our walk down Wellington Road. I was upset about the fall and we resolved that he was no longer well enough for walking up the stairs and that the lift was to be used instead. This morning Kevin had taken Freddie out, as always for the first walk, and then at about 11 a.m. it was my turn, I finished washing the dishes and as he hadn’t left the bed I waited – a wait that was a mistake because he either fell off the bed or jumped and he being such a clean dog wet the carpet. Then I should have known but that dreadful state called denial made me coax him to the lift which he did not want to get into so I then brought him back towards the stairs in the hope that he would prefer same. Then it was back to the lift. He stumbled a lot as I walked him from the carpark to the main gate but I kept on going thinking his legs would get stronger, not really understanding, why they appeared so weak.
He released his bowels and then he lay down on the grass. A neighbour, Karen, noticed me and came over. I think she could see there was a genuine problem and offered to call Kevin. I assured her all was okay but it wasn’t. Freddie was dying. I lifted him and I brought him home. Kevin again told me “he was dying”; he phoned the vet and Sally did the driving.
Freddie had spent much time visiting the vet. An ill-treated animal and it is my humble belief the same applies to children (and we need to especially be alert to the experiences of the little children and their interpretation of what COVID-19 is), if they have a certain temperament become prone to many illnesses years before they should. From day 1, Freddies health problems ratcheted up the scale. First it was his intestines and he could only eat a certain set prescription nuts; then it was his heart so he was on heart tablets, then he developed bronchitis and shortness of breath which meant he was prescribed more drugs which were steroids and codeine. He really didn’t have a chance but we kept giving him the tablets and especially the codeine which he absolutely hated and at any chance he would just cough it up and spit it out. No doubt the codeine was keeping him alive. I only hope that by my selfish choice of giving him the drugs I did not make him suffer. I recall a long time ago a friend telling me that dogs have so much empathy that when they know their owner does not want them to die, they do everything to ensure that they live as long as they can, even if they are suffereing. The moral being that the owner should understand this and let the dog die.
The vet said he would not suffer any more. I believe in dignity in death for dogs but for humans too. I hope Freddie knows we did not desert him in those final hours before he passed away, having left him at the vets.
Goodbye Freddie. You arrived three years ago, a young dog, but with hardships stamped in your heart. You left as my granddaddy dog – because cruel people damaged your chances. Please please people stop the puppy farms and raise the standards that animals are not treated with cruelty.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. The speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and the unspeakable love”. Washington Irvine.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.