Sometimes, I look at his little face – and those dark brown eyes stare back at me.
Where did you come from, I wonder. How long were you alone and scared? How could anyone bear losing you?
There he stands – little Freddy, “Fred Flintstone” is his official name. He is the perfect complement to our Barney Rubble. Barney is our first rescue dog. Freddy is our second. He joined our family Nov. 10.
Now they are brothers. A little reluctance from Barney in the first week merged into acceptance by the second. By the third week, Freddy was sleeping on our bed. Barney, who is First Pup, gets to choose his spot on the bed and then Freddy settles in. Unfortunately, I get what’s left when I join the boys later at night.
And it is so worth it.
That’s what happens when you still live the life of a night owl – remnants of my three decades as a journalist, with a residual dash of “I do everything after the kids go to bed” mommy training.
Freddy, who weighs 8 pounds soaking wet, is easier to move. I pick him up with one hand and he quickly nestles in between me and my husband Jeff.
Barney is a little more grumpy. I tell him quietly that he needs to move, and I even rub his belly, but I often get a low, lazy “gr-r-r-r” as he shifts to another spot.
This is the price I pay for having two dogs in my life.
There are so many reasons why another dog was a good idea.
No. 1, Barney is 6, and he needs some canine companionship and activity. Both the friendship and the exercise will keep him young and happy. I hope they will eventually keep each other calm when we leave them alone (No. 2) – but that’s another challenge.
No. 3 – Both Jeff and I are retired. Jeff carried the burden of daily duties with puppy Barney and became his person. I know Barney loves Jeff first and me second and I’m OK with that. With Freddy, it is obvious that I am his person. He follows me wherever I go and cries when I head out the door without him. He just started going into the bedroom to be with Jeff and Barney last week – before that, he had to be with me until I was tired enough to crash.
No. 4 – I needed him. This has been a pretty rough year. I had a serious surgery in May and spent a lot of time thinking about my own longevity, while I worried a bit about who I would be after the operation. It a was justifiable concern, but turned out to be unnecessary, as I went through surgery and recovery like a trooper.
It takes incidents like a surgery, an accident or a health issue to cause you to put your proverbial ducks in a row. I got about half of my ducks in line before surgery and resigned myself to the knowledge that the rest of the flock would probably join a neighborhood gang and get in trouble.
What I wasn’t prepared at all for was the sudden death of my best friend. Here she was worrying about me all spring, and then she goes and dies in late summer.
I switched gears and did what I could to help her kids with her estate, which included supervising an auction of her precious belongings. That kept me busy until the end of October.
I felt like I needed to keep moving, which is exactly what I did – in my house, my yard, my greenhouse. It filled my days, but there was a hole in my soul.
Enter Freddy. Sweet, little abandoned or lost Freddy.
The humane society said he is close to a year old and came from a shelter south of Green Bay. They didn’t know if he was abandoned or went missing. All I could think of is this little creature alone and lost, or worse yet – given up by someone.
He needed me.
Now, I find myself smiling more and I definitely laugh more! These two dogs are so funny together. Barney has already taught Freddy some of his tricks and convinced him that pea pods are a great treat. Barney will always be our first love – he is a special dog with a great personality. Everyone who knows him loves him.
But I love little Freddy, too. I realized – once again – I have lots of room in my heart to love more … not just pets, but people.
We all do.
At this time of year, especially another COVID year, it is sometimes difficult to know what can still make us smile, laugh and love more.
We just need to find it.