Story of a wonderful friend
| After our first family dog, Zak, died, our children were inconsolable. I know. Perhaps we should have waited before getting another dog, but the sight of those tears and long faces stirred me into action quicker than I would have intended.
No sooner were the words, “perhaps we’ll get a puppy,” were out of my mouth than we were looking in the papers for advertisements for puppies for sale.
This was before the days of mobile phones or the internet meaning we needed to travel to see any on offer.
I saw an advert from a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder. She had two pups remaining from a litter. They were about ten weeks old. I had no idea what that breed even looked like, or anything about their temperament.
I told the children we’d just look at the parents before checking out the puppies. After all, all puppies are cute and hard to resist.
Of course we came home with a pup. A very gangly looking dog whose legs were too long and he didn’t seem to know what to do with them.
We made him a bed in a washing basket. He looked so comical, his legs hanging over the edge. However, he loved it and even when he was way too large, he’d squeeze himself into his basket.
His name? Well, we called him Fritzy. My husband thought a German name would be appropriate as he was a German Shorthaired Pointer. Or GSP.
Right from the beginning, he was a character. I must stress it was a time when dogs wandered the neighbourhood, unlike now with all the dog laws we have.
He was ball obsessed and pestered anyone to throw him the ball, dropping it at your feet and not rest until you threw it again.
His roaming began later. I couldn’t leave him alone at home. I would invariably find him waiting outside when I returned. We couldn’t figure out how he escaped from an enclosed backyard.
We observed him, examined every point of exit, and yet he still he got out.
So one day we tricked him. Pretending to leave, I shouted that we were going out. I banged the front door closed and started the car. Leaving the car at the bottom of the drive, I crept back to the house and watched through the window. Fritzy sat there for five minutes before he began his escape. He assessed the gate, which we had raised to make it impossible to climb over. With one leap he landed on the gate, balancing on an inch of metal with all four paws. From there he ran around to the front door to await our return.
Astounded at the feat, we determined to foil this. My husband glued a strip of carpet tacks on top of the gate. He only tried it one more time.
As he grew older, he would wander off. GSP’s are notorious for retrieving. Originally bred to be gun dogs to go with duck shooters and retrieve the felled birds. Their soft mouths ensuring the bird suffered no damage.
Fritzy used to bring all kinds of stuff home. His first foray into the neighbourhood ended with several bags of frozen vegetables on my doorstep. Maybe someone had been cleaning out their fridge? The next gift for me was a live chicken. She strutted off down the driveway with her feathers ruffled. Then came shoes, a pot plant and a bottle of fertiliser.
There’s no doubt about it. He was a rogue.
I soon realised the dog was getting fat and I reduced his food intake. Still, he continued to gain weight. This went on for several months until I solved the mystery. A lady, we had never seen came to the door. She asked us if we didn’t want Fritzy, then could she have him? Her suggestion astounded us. However, he had been going to her house for his dinner every day. She had followed him home, thinking he was a stray.
Time went by and all that ball throwing and chasing got the better of him and he became very stiff and sore in his back legs.
He was fourteen when I took Fritzy to have him put to sleep. My son-in-law accompanied me as he needed carrying.
My husband was visiting our daughter interstate, and I knew he would could never bring himself to put an end to his beloved dog’s suffering so I did it whilst he was away.
I sat on the floor with Fritzy while they put the needle into his arm. Our beautiful boy looked at me whilst this was happening. He gave a sigh and slipped away.
I rushed out of the vet’s in tears, driving to my sister's house for sympathy and a cup of tea. I left my son-in-law to deal with the aftermath involved in having a pet euthanized.
It was five years before I could bring myself to have another dog. Although I missed having a four-legged companion, the trauma of saying goodbye to Fritzy was too much.
Eventually we had another GSP. We called her Mitzy. Now there’s another story.
Word count 890.