Fred, the Greatest Dog in the World, died Monday and we are grieving

Posted on December 2, 2009


Fred, my elder grand-dog, was the Greatest Dog in the World. I know you probably think that to me Miss Sadie and the Cowboy might be greater. If you have known me a long time, you would be certain that Jake my Boon Companion was greater. But you would be wrong.

Fred was a large black lab with a deep chest, the better to hold his extraordinary heart. His coat was as thick and glossy as a bear’s, and his waving tail most likely caused monsoons somewhere in the Pacific. He had an enormous, booming bark that gave miscreants pause but didn’t fool anyone else.

As near as we can tell—Rob the Firefighter bailed him out of jail in his youth—Fred was eighteen years old when he died. He had a wonderful life post-rescue, loved without reservation by an entire family of dog goofs. He went to work with his beloved Rob before he became the Firefighter, galumphed joyously onto the bed whenever I visited, and went on road trips and cross-country ski adventures and wonderful hikes in at least a dozen states.

Fred wore a handsome sweater on his visits Up North, and he kept it on until the woodstove heated up. I kept toys for him in that basket.

He adored the Lady Alicia. He loved Lucy, my younger grand-dog, who is desolate at her loss, and he was great friends with Miss Sadie and the Cowboy and many, many other dogs he met in his long life.

Fred, Lucy and Miss Sadie share a companionable moment in April, 2009. Cowboy was around somewhere - probably scouting for treats.

He loved Rob and Alicia’s friends and loved coming up north and loved every brilliant moment when he could turn all that candlepower on a person who needed it. Fred was a great healer. Also a great chowhound.

During a cottage weekend in 1998 or 1999 Fred kept a close eye on Charlotte's dinner preparations. She and Paul were among his favorite Friends of Rob and Alicia.

Towards the end he could barely walk 50 yards, but his happy dance at the prospect of treats stayed with him to his last weekend. I saw it on Saturday before I left for home after Thanksgiving. The last time I petted him he was napping in a patch of sunlight, his coat gleaming. And he was still the Greatest Dog in the World.

In October Miss Sadie, the Cowboy and I went over to Glen Arbor for a family gathering. Fred was glad to see us, but he was clearly slowing down.