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.