Fred to the Rescue
By Rose Ann Sinay
Daisy was a cross between a Dalmatian and a Beagle. Black and brown spots spattered her short, white hair like a Jackson Pollack canvas. Dark lashes framed her amber brown eyes. She crossed her long legs at the paw and ate her food daintily like the lady she was. We adopted her from a Connecticut Animal Rescue.
“…And to think we saved you,” my daughter would scold when Daisy did something naughty and ungrateful like chewing her best flip flops or the buttons off her favorite sweater. She was fascinated by the thought that our family had rescued the puppy, but not quite sure just what we had saved her from. In her eyes, the shelter was a veritable Doggy Toys R Us, bringing families and little bundles of canine love together.
Daisy’s biggest vice was fence jumping. Those leaps over the four and a half foot wooden barrier resulted in hour-long, frantic searches, riding up and down our country road calling her name and making those silly come-hither sounds with pursed lips. She would finally appear, head lowered as though begging our forgiveness.
Over the years, Daisy took her place in our family, and being the loyal dog she was, listened to each of our frustrations and ranting when nobody else wanted to. She licked our faces, snuggled her head on our shoulders and eased us through difficult moments. She instinctively knew when to cuddle and when to stay out of the way, all the while keeping a watchful, protective eye over us.
Time passed; Daisy’s spirit belied her age. She was twelve years old, but it hadn’t occurred to me that her end could be near. I had noticed the loss of appetite and blamed it on the hot, humid weather. We took her to the vet’s office anyway.
When the doctor called to tell us the bad news, I couldn’t respond. I hung up on him mid-sentence. I gathered myself. He must have made a mistake – wrong dog. I called him back. No mistake. We would most likely have to put Daisy down, he said.
My husband and I brought her home and smothered her with love. She absorbed it all and gave it right back. We hand fed her all her favorite treats just to get her to eat a little something. We kept looking for the tiniest sign of improvement, but she was losing weight at an alarming rate. Just standing up in her basket was difficult. Each step was shaky and labored. There was no doubt; we had to let her go. We made an appointment…and cancelled it twice.
Finally, we made the decision; as painful as it was, we had to do what was best for Daisy. My husband gathered her in his arms, and we carried her for one last walk down our favorite path. We walked slowly letting her savor the sights and smells of the woods. A rabbit, nibbling grass, caught our scent and scampered away. Once, Daisy would have reacted with a giant leap (as far as her leash would allow), and some tenacious barking; now she simply sighed and let her head fall into the crook of my husband’s arm. It’s time, she seemed to say. We would not cancel this appointment.
The void was terrible. The dog bed with her indelible impression, stayed in place for two weeks before we could take it away. My hand unconsciously reached to pet her head as I sat watching television.
Months passed…a year. We made excuses as to why we didn’t get another dog: Daisy couldn’t be replaced; we could go out for the day and not have to hurry home to let the dog out; there was no more dog hair coating the bottom of our socks. We both really knew – it hurt too much to lose such a precious pet.
One morning, my husband pointed out a collection of pictures in the newspaper. Those posed snapshots of puppies looking needy and adorable at the same time, and all of them available at the local Animal Rescue.
“No,” I said emphatically. “No more dogs.”
“You’re right,” he said, tossing the paper in the garbage. But, the pictures kept appearing on the table, on the couch, in the bathroom.
“Okay,” I relented. “We’ll go to the animal shelter and get a puppy fix, but we are not bringing one home. You may want to think about volunteering there.”
We entered the cement floored kennel that housed dogs of all colors, sizes and breeds. Most jumped at their cage walls and barked as we walked by. Pick me, they seemed to be shouting.
As we turned the corner, a Labrador-mix puppy peered at us quietly huddled in the corner. We coaxed him to us with whispered baby talk and wiggling fingers through the wire pen. He approached tentatively and licked our fishing digits.
“Would you like to take him to the play room,” a woman behind us asked.
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” my husband replied.
Fred (my husband’s choice) has black hair and big amber brown eyes. He noisily wolfs down his food like it’s his last meal and belches loudly when he’s done. When he gets the chance, he runs like a rocket into the woods, crashing through bushes, sending wildlife in all directions. He eventually trots out of the thicket covered in mud, twigs, leaves and terrible, smelly substances. At those moments, I don’t know whether to be relieved that he found his way home, or drive him straight back to the rescue center.
If he was a human, I would picture Fred in dirty jeans and a torn t-shirt, scratching his cow licked head (among other things). There’s nothing gentlemanly about Fred. He’s now four years old. He pouts and whines when I say no, but loves me, nonetheless.
Of course, Fred had me at the first nudge of his shiny, wet nose.
About this writer
- Rose Ann Sinay lives in North Carolina with her husband and dog where she spends her time writing. Her children graciously continue to provide her with moments worth preserving.