Freud. 1999-2013

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We said goodbye to a dear, old friend yesterday. Freud is gone. The vet euthanized him peacefully at our home. About a month ago he started going downhill again – off his tucker, nauseous and vomiting. So we decided not to send him to Australia to live with family after all (we leave for a 6-month adventure in the UK next week).

I feel as though I’ve betrayed him. I’m not sure that it would have been easier had he died peacefully in his sleep but it’s not pleasant knowing that we cut his life short, albeit only slightly. We have buried him in our backyard and this I find hard to deal with. I don’t like Auckland. It is not my home, has never felt like home and never will so I feel doubly miserable knowing that I’ve buried my friend in a place for which I have no affection. It is a purely emotional response I know, and one that will surely pass, but in matters of death it is emotion that rules.

I have had Freud for over thirteen years. He was a rebound dog I got when overcome with grief over the death of my cat, Matilda, whose life was cut short by a car. I was a student at the time and living off the smell of an oily rag so I probably shouldn’t have got him, but I did and he has been a dear, loyal friend.

He was never what you would call an obedient dog. When he was still a puppy I took him to obedience training and he and I came bottom of the class. He never did stop barking and chasing cats, jumping exuberantly all over visitors and later humping their arms, fossicking through the rubbish bin looking for food, taking me for walks by pulling on the lead in every direction and barking enthusiastically at every dog we passed. I once took him to a dog play area where he barked his lungs out at every other dog there. A little girl, 4 or 5 years old, told me I needed to say no in a growly voice. That was a little humiliating. I think he thought he was looking out for me and indeed I sometimes wonder whether he has hung on so long and so admirably despite his late stage kidney disease and heart disease, simply because he had to do his duty as my protector.

Freud loved food. I know all dogs love food but Freud particularly so. He would even rummage through the hand bags of visitors if he thought he might find a snack. He once managed to open Ben’s bag where he found the vegemite sandwich Ben had made for his lunch. Freud ate it all leaving not a trace of what he’d done except for the paper packaging. If food was left too close to the edge of the kitchen bench or on the kitchen table, he would somehow manage to stand on his hind two legs and grab it with his mouth. I once left four sausages defrosting on the kitchen bench. There was no sign of them later that day. Not a trace. It is for this reason that it was so painful for me to watch his kidney disease develop. Kidney disease robbed him of the pleasure he got from food.

Freud was very fond of soft toys. This was sometimes problematic after the children came along because he would play with their toys and the toys usually ended up with holes in them. He played with toys right up until the very end. Just a few months ago he managed to bite a few holes in a giant toy Shrek belonging to Elizabeth. She still laughs about it. He also loved toilet rolls. He would sneak into the bathroom to look for empty toilet rolls, take them to his bed and chew and play with them for ages.

When he was younger we used to give him real bones to chew. He would often bury these bones but not necessarily in the garden. On one occasion my sister came to visit and on the first night not long after she’d retired to the spare bedroom I heard a scream. Freud had buried a bloody, meaty bone under her pillow.

He was a clever dog. I’m sure poodles are the cleverest of breeds. We used to call him Professor Freud. His research interest was sniffery. I’m sure he had many papers published and contributed greatly to the field.

I won’t ever forget you, Freud. You have made me a better human. RIP.

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14 thoughts on “Freud. 1999-2013

  1. A beautiful obituary of your beloved Freud. So sorry for your deep loss Rachel. What a fortunate dog he was to have such a long and fun-filled life with you. Andrea

  2. When I first met Freud, he was a metre from the ground and still rising rapidly. He and Zeki were bouncing up and down like a pair of demented yo-yos, barking hysterically. The noise was indescribable. Later I was told, “They like you.” It was a test of sorts, and I passed. The dogs entered my life and became a part of it.

    Freud had some endearingly human qualities. He was a bully and a coward to cats. At the sight of one he would surge into life, barking furiously and tugging at the lead. Yet once at the park we saw a kitten stand its ground and hiss at him: he turned tail and retreated, literally whimpering. Later on as his eyesight failed, his ailuromania became displaced onto other objects: birds in the back yard, other dogs, people.

    He was easy-going and affectionate. When our children were small he endured fur-pulling and general molestation without a hint of resentment. He used to greet me at the head of the stairs when I came home from work; he did not make a sound, but his stump of a tail wagged furiously. The tail was docked when he was a puppy, before he came into Rachel’s care – what it lacked in length, however, it more than made up for in vigour. Freud flourished in the fourteen months after Zeki died. Zeki was a troubled dog who did not mix well with others. Freud visibly relaxed when Zeki was gone, becoming free to express his natural gregarious nature. An encounter with another dog became a celebration, an occasion to sniff bottoms and wag tails. But Zeki did not make Freud’s life an unrelenting misery. To see them chasing each other across the park on a frosty morning was to be a witness to pure joy. While Zeki soared gracefully, like a gazelle, Freud’s was a curious, lolloping gait which caused his rump to oscillate in a lopsided fashion. Yet Freud, despite his bulk and his apparent awkwardness, could run more swiftly and swerve more suddenly. Zeki could only catch him if Freud willed it.

    We called Freud professor because of his wise eyes and outrageous facial hair. When he grew older his fur lightened from a dark metal grey to a pale silver with white roots, lending him a distinguished air. As Rachel said, his research speciality was Sniffery (part of the broader discipline of Canine Studies). Perhaps he pondered deep theoretical problems as he reclined on the couch; I don’t know. To me it was clear his forte was as an experimentalist. He wielded his nose like a precision instrument. Every tree, every lamp-post was given his undivided attention; to each he administered a precisely measured dose of urine. Later he would return to gather further data. I was in awe of his bladder capacity. Zeki, on the other hand, squandered his urine at the first opportunity. Ever Freud’s rival, he would continue to lift his leg later in the walk, but produced only a dribble.

    Zeki was a gourmet. He ate apple cores – stalks, seeds and all – and one winter he gnawed the heart out of every cauliflower in the garden. He loved the scent of fresh decay; he would roll in the remains of a dead animal whenever he could find one. Freud’s appetite was vast and indiscriminate. Scraps fallen on the floor, left-overs sitting on the table: all would vanish. When in earlier days we gave the dogs rawhide bones, Freud would wait until Zeki had chewed his soft. A short struggle would then ensue and Zeki would slink away empty-mouthed, leaving Freud with both bones. Often Freud would not actually begin to eat either bone: he would simply sit with them in front of him, enjoying the pride of possession. We knew his illness was overcoming him when he went off his food. Crumbs of cheese and grains of rice would lie on the floor until we cleaned them up; our rubbish bin would remain unmolested for an entire night.

    We were not yet ready to let him go.

    Elizabeth says Freud has gone to heaven. Wherever he is, I hope Zeki is there to meet him and that his temper has mellowed. I hope the cats are fleet-footed and plentiful. And I hope the people don’t mind excessive barking and breath that can kill at ten paces. Rest in peace, Freud.

    1. Hi Rach,

      Aww. Did you think about getting Freud cremated then you can take him to whichever garden you are in. Mum got Harvey and Josie (the cat not Rachel’s sister) cremated and they are presented in a beautiful box which looks like a stone I think and have a little personal message engraved on a plaque on the top.

      1. I didn’t think of that until after we buried him. It is a good idea and I did consider digging him back up again but then someone reminded me that his spirit and memories will follow me wherever I go.

  3. So sorry for you you all. It is dreadful to lose a pet. Really enjoyed reading your and Ben’s eulogies. Freud was a lucky dog and lived a long and blessed life. I hope that’s some consolation.

  4. Your words ring with the sadness that you both clearly feel after the loss of a loved one. They are heartfelt and beautifully written. But I do agree with Andrea and Bronwyn, Freud had a wonderful life with a family that cared for him as one of their own. He will have no regrets.

    May I say that we all pass on at some stage, dogs a bit quicker than we humans. Many of us though, would wish for the same peaceful passing that Freud experienced. If he is able to read Quake Rattled in heaven, he would be happy with his life, and with most of your reminiscences, perhaps not all.

    Your preparations for travel to the UK next week may be a good diversion from the sadness of his passing. Best wishes to you both.

  5. My wife and I had to put down one of our dogs a few years ago due to cancer, and it was a similarly heartbreaking experience, since we had raised him from a pup. All you can do is keep him in your heart, and his legacy of love and fun will live forever. And get a new dog, soon!

  6. I’m sorry for your loss. If it’s any consolation, I’ve had that same feeling with every pet I’ve had to euthanize, even though I knew logically it was the best decision. xxx

  7. RIP Freud. So sorry to hear about the passing of such a special and lovable dog. Weird and manic he certainly was, but truly endearing. I very much appreciated reading your obituary, Rachel, and Ben’s as well. Freud was a lucky dog to be treated with such humanity and kindness. What better life could a dog wish to have? His suffering has ended now but the warm memories live on. Thinking of you and sending lots of love and hugs.

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