I have never met anyone who said: 'yeah, dogs are okay, but I can take'em or leave'em, really, I may as well have an armadillo'.
No. You are a dog person. Or you are not.
I am a dog person as well as a cat person. People tell me that's impossible, but it's true. I adore and respect my cat, and I love my dog.
|Freya, 3 months old.|
So this story is long overdue. For I have told you tales about Gina, our stray from Turkey, who we have for 10 years now (and not 8; I realised this when I uploaded the last batch of photos for you). But I have not yet told you about Freya, our first dog.
FreyaFreya was a Drentsche Patrijshond, a Drent for short. We only have 2 proper Dutch breeds, and a Drent is one of them. All the other dogs are imported.
When we wanted a dog, we looked for character and posture. We wanted a retriever, it had to be a swimmer, and it had to be a outdoorsy type of dog, like ourselves. The fact that the Drent is a friendly dog, only persuaded us faster to go for this Dutch breed.
We went to a proper breeder (at least, that's what we thought) and picked a little bitch from a litter of 6. She was adorable, with a fat pink tummy and keen eyes. We took her home in the car, and introduced her to our old cat Saartje, who immediately jumped up on the linen cabinet and refused to come down for days.
Freya wasn't house trained yet, so we took the advice from someone who said to know about these things, and put newspaper all over the kitchen. Hence our cute little doggie believed she could pee in the kitchen, and has kept up this belief for all of her 15 years!
That was mistake number 1.
Mistake number 2 was the breeder. What we didn't know, was that our expensive dog had come to us with a tummy bug. She needed treatment which nearly cost us the dog plus hundreds of guilders. But she pulled through. Because we were afraid she wouldn't survive, we took her up to our bedroom. That was mistake number 3, for she never wanted to sleep anywhere else but next to us again.
The best dog in the worldDid we regret this dog? No way! She was sweet, friendly, cute, funny, curious and a fast learner. A Drent always brings you something when you come home, retrieving is in their genes, and after an embarrassing episode when my new boss dropped by to bring me some urgent letters to type, we quickly learned not to leave our dirty underwear lying about the house.
She defended our home, and thought it her duty to keep me from harm. Whenever a man came to visit us, or to repair something, she would always stand between us, and when he crossed an invisible line, she would growl softly. I have seen big, macho colleagues of mine reduced to little shivering heaps on the couch, unable to move from it because Freya would posture herself in front of them and just stare. Nothing else.
We took her everywhere, and could, for she behaved impeccably. In restaurants, she would move under the table and stay there. She went on trains, on buses, on boats (she loved to swim and was a good sailor), and her speciality was sitting in a little cart my husband would tie behind his bike. We cycled all over France, Germany and Switzerland with her in this manner, and people would stop and point.
When our son was born, she became even more protective, and would guard him around the clock. She allowed everything: he could pull her ears, and poke her eyes, and crawl all over her, and she even let him eat from her bowl.
The same with our daughter, although by then Freya was quite old and hard of hearing, and had cataracts. But she would allow to be dressed in hats and scarves, and pulled the sled when it snowed.
Both kids shared the cycle cart with her.
When we did our research, all the books said a Drent will become 10, or 12 if you are really lucky.
Our Freya reached 15 years. In the end she was deaf as well as blind and incontinent. My husband spent months on a mattress next to her basket, so he could take her outside in the night if she needed to go.
How do you explain that you have such a bond with your dog? Only other people with that same bond understand.
When she was in pain (she had bowel cancer), we took her to the vet, who put her to sleep. Then we took her home, and buried her in her favourite spot in the wood, and planted a beech next to her grave. Hers is the only beech in an acre of poplars, so we can always find her.
The best dog ever.