Our neighbor’s dog Freddy died this week.
Freddy has lived in this neighborhood longer than we have. He may have been the first doggo to bark at me after we moved in back in 2007. You couldn’t walk past Fred’s house, if he was outside, without getting barked at. He’d give one solitary Woof, to let you know he considered it rude if you strolled by without stopping to give him a pat and a scratch.
His parents called him The Mayor, and that seems to be just how he saw himself.
My two older kids have a dog-walking job for the lady who lives three houses down. Her two dogs were friends with Freddy—rumor has it he considered one of them his girlfriend—so he often came out of his garage to rub noses and sniff behinds with Robie and Hovey. When they went out of town, Fred’s parents even hired my kids to dog-sit a couple of times. Fred had a complicated meal structure, and didn’t much like to walk when you wanted him to. It was a good exercise for my kids in managing a schedule, serving a demanding eater, and dealing with a smallish, recalcitrant being. You know, parenting.
Several of my kids’ friends in the neighborhood walk and sit various dogs at various times. I’d often see Ryan on the way to care for Fred or Nena, or Andrew coming down the street for the afternoon shift with Robie and Hovey. Ryan’s older sister Casey used to dog-walk too, but now she’s a senior in high school, showing and riding horses, working on plays and singing in the choir, dating, and getting ready to leave for college next fall.
One by one these kids will leave the neighborhood.
That dog redeemed the name Fred for me. My first serious boyfriend in college was named Fred. He led me to believe we were going to get married.
He led a number of girls to believe that.
When I met Freddy the dog, I thought he had the most unfortunate name, and because of that I thought I could never come to love him.
But I was wrong.
Many, many a morning I stopped to talk to Fred and his mom on my way back from taking one or more of my kids to the bus. This year, however, my youngest is in fifth grade, and her school is right around the corner, and she made patrol captain, so there is no way she’s going to let her mother accompany her to school. I’ve had bus duty morning and afternoon for the past eleven years.
Now I don’t.
So I didn’t see Freddy much this fall. I wasn’t out and about like I used to be.
My son came home from his morning dog-walk a few days ago and said that Fred’s parents didn’t expect him to live more than another day or two. They were right.
The neighborhood won’t be the same without you, Freddy.
It won’t be the same without Casey.
Or Andrew and Ryan.
Or my kids.
I really wish you didn’t all have to go.