Frieda, My Wild Dog, Moves On

frieda 1

Six years ago, when I was getting divorced and  having a hard time finding an apartment because no one wanted to rent to someone with a dog like Frieda,  the mediator suggested my ex-husband take Frieda and I take our other dog Skunk.   As much as I loved Skunk, Frieda was my dog.  She always had been from the moment I took her home from the SPCA.  I didn’t know what I’d do about an apartment, but I knew I wouldn’t give up Frieda.

When I finally found a place that was too expensive, but I was desperate to have, I brought Frieda with me to meet the landlord.  And Frieda, who didn’t like men and would bark at the slightest movement, sat next to me on the floor and didn’t move.   In a way it seemed like a miracle to me but in another way, I always felt that she knew how important it was to me that she act like a calm and well trained dog.

I guess what I’m saying is that Frieda was always what I needed and wanted her to be.

I’d been thinking that life had gotten too hard for her for a long time.  But recently when I opened myself up to her, tried to communicate with her about it, I got nothing back.  I told myself we were too close, that I just couldn’t read her, but the truth was that Frieda hasn’t been all there for some time.  I knew this for sure, sometime in the fall, I even wrote about it on my blog.  But I didn’t really want to see it.  I didn’t want it to be true.

And over the months, as she declined, I couldn’t see that either.  I didn’t want to see it.  It was too sad and I didn’t want to think of her dying.  Jon and I talked about it, when she wouldn’t stop licking her painful joints or when she had more and more accidents in the house or couldn’t hear us when we were right next to her.  Sometimes she would stumble and fall going up the stairs and suddenly she was having a hard time laying down.  She would ease her back legs painfully under her.  In the past few weeks, she’d become more restless, not able to stay in one place, constantly getting up and pacing.  I could see her confusion when I would let her outside from my studio.  She would always scratch on my door when she wanted to come back in, and now she would stand in the snow looking at the back door of the house, forgetting where I was.

When I thought about all of these things, somehow they didn’t add up. She’s just old, I kept telling myself.  This is what happens when you get old.  But in the past few days I had a feeling I wasn’t seeing what was right in front of me. That there was too much history and emotion in the way. If I saw what was really happening, how much pain and distress Frieda was really in, I’d have to do something about it. It was only when I didn’t think about it intellectually, when I went deep inside myself, in my heart and gut that I could “see” clearly.

And when I went there, I had no doubts.  It was time.  When I went deep inside, I knew that Frieda needed me to make this decision.  Because Frieda, wasn’t really all there anymore.  She had stopped “talking” to me months ago.  She was going through the motions, but it was becoming more difficult and more painful for her everyday.

We euthanized Frieda this morning.  And as sad as I am and as much as I cried, I knew, when I saw her laying on the floor after Dr. Fariello  gave her the sedative, that it was the right decision.  Because I hadn’t seen her look so comfortable and at ease in such a long time.  Even when she was sleeping.  And it reminded me of how she used to be.

And now,  I don’t feel like she’s completely gone.  I didn’t sense or see her spirit leaving like I did with Lenore. I didn’t feel her leave at all.  What I felt, when I left the office, was that a part of Frieda came with me.  I could feel it, right in my gut.  That strength, that wild part of Frieda.  The part that would take off and run though the woods.  The Tiger part of her that was stealthy and silent as she moved through the trees, tapping into the ancient hunter, fearless in her pursuit.

As much as I said out loud that I didn’t want her to run off getting “lost” in the woods for hours, I always let her off the leash.  Because I actually loved that part of Frieda.  The wild part of me was squelched early in my childhood, fear moved in and pushed it out of the way.   I guess that’s why I admired it in Frieda, and why I never wanted to take it away from her. She was the wild I couldn’t be.

I gave Frieda a good home and lots of love.  She was my protector when I needed it and reminded me of the wild side I forgot I had.   We spent almost every day together for over 12 year and we were faithful to each other to the end.


56 thoughts on “Frieda, My Wild Dog, Moves On

  1. Dear Maria,

    I was so sad to read this. I actually saw it on Jon’s blog first, and was struck by the black and white photo of the two of you together. The powerful bond you shared was much in evidence there, and as sad as it is that Frieda is gone, except for that little kernel of her that will live inside of you forever, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful the photo was. Thousands and of dogs are euthanized every day, for all sorts of reasons, but so few of them pass from this life held in the loving arms of someone they know and trust. It is the last gift we can give these beings that give so much to us during their lives. Frieda was an incredible spirit, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to know something of her through your and Jon’s words and photos. Thank you for sharing her with us, and please know that while it is a different sort of grief, and nothing compared to what you are feeling, you are not alone in your sadness at her passing. Sending you lots of hugs.

  2. So glad you got her when you did and made those wonderful years for her. So glad she is no longer suffering and is free to run in the woods again.

  3. Maria, As Jon has said, we sometimes are fortunate to have the dog we need to take us over the rough patches in life. When I went through a difficult time ten & eleven years ago with my husband’s health issues, two female Aussies were my constant companions who were my stead comfort in my life. And then there was one male Aussie who, when I wept into his coat looked at me as though to say, ‘would you mind, I just got that part of my fur looking nice’. He was as aloof as the girls were loving and kind. I can’t imagine life without a dog and I’m hoping that you will find another who speaks to you as Frieda did. It’s a tough decision to make to put an animal down but when it’s the right decision, it somehow helps ease the pain.

  4. The great love you shared was always evident, Maria. Frieda was a strong force in your life, as you were in hers. Her purpose on earth is done, and she is now free to be your spirit dog. Hugs.

  5. It was a match made in heaven. For both of you. The Universe would have always been a touch out of kilter had you not found one another.

  6. How wonderful that Frieda left a piece of herself with you! This is a true blessing and is the best gift of all from your dear and beloved pet friend.

  7. I know it was hard… It sounds like my situation with Andy. What you did and what you and Frieda shared was Bravery.
    She is definitely still there with you… When you go for a walk in the spring close your eyes and hear her running. xo

  8. Dear Maria…so sad and what a loss. As usual your words and Jon’s words have me in tears however your devotion to animals is so moving. Godspeed to you both and Frieda. You gave her a wonderful life and what a good girl she was. Thank you for sharing with us.

  9. Maria, this is stunningly honest and exceptionally beautiful. I cannot say anything about your relationship with Frieda that you have not already heard or felt, but I will cherish her lick on my hand as a blessing.

  10. What a magnificent creature she was. She gave you a great gift, and you gave her the best gift back in setting her free at the end of your wonderful journey together. I am so glad I know her story thru Jons book! Thank you

  11. I am so sorry about your beloved Frieda. She was loyal to the end, what gifts she gave you, Maria. I hope you continue to feel her protective spirit. Take care.

  12. When they finally caught Frieda in the Adirondacks and her travels were over, seems she was just waiting for you and you both knew it. She was your soul mate and protector and you were both perfect together. I am so sorry for your and Jon’s loss.It is a hard and difficult thing to do, I know. The photos tell the story and she is at peace.

  13. You and Frieda were a real team. I’m glad you can feel that a part of her is still with you. You and Jon have not had an easy time this winter, losing three very special animals. Peace to you and all of your critters.

  14. My thoughts are with you. Loving a dog can be the most wonderful experience in life, but losing them is the most difficult. I will always miss my Sully and I swear my new dog is the reincarnation of my golden named Zeke, who died several years ago. I watch this new dog and I can’t believe it, but I think it is Zeke. Hopefully your Frieda will come back to you!

  15. Maria, I’m thinking of you. I’ve always loved Frieda’s story of how she ran wild and was taken in by your kind heart. I know you two were spirit friends in the truest sense. I’m not sure why, but the word ‘Duende’ came to me when I read your post. It’s a hard word to translate, but my understanding of it came from Clarissa Pinkola Estes from her book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves.’ She explains it as a wild creative spirit. Or a spirit that makes on wildly creative. A wildness we can never totally tame. I only know Frieda through her story, but I feel like I’ve loved her for it all the same. Peace and love to you. – Nicole

  16. Dear Maria
    My fingers hover over my keyboard, I don’t know they right words for you. I am holding you in my heart, we are here with you in your grief

  17. I am so sorry Maria – what a winter you have had. I am grateful to have known Frieda through your words and photos. You two had a deep and forever bond that will live on. Sending you warmth and love.

  18. Brooke expressed my sentiments beautifully. I’m grateful for having met Frieda. The two of you were destined for each other.

  19. Dear Maria. We have just had our beloved 2 dogs die in the last 6 months. It’s so hard to let them go. May your memories give you continued comfort and peace. Thank you for allowing us follow Frieda’s story, through her book and your and Jon’s blogs. I love Brooke’s words. I too share in your sadness.

  20. Beautiful tribute to Frieda. Yes, it is hard to let go, but we know she is safe and without pain. RIP Frieda. Gld Bless, Maria.

  21. I admire the support you and Frieda gave each other during your time together. Thank you for this lovely tribute. I’m thinking of you with loving regards.

  22. Hi Maria, Just read about Frieda. I smiled thinking of how she was all those years ago when I first met her.
    I have all respect for folks who can keep on ‘having’ (entertaining?!) a personal animal friend…even knowing about the good-byes. all love to you and Jon. Spring solstice is only 28 days off…..!

  23. Maria, thank you for this. So beautiful and unselfish. Wishing Frieda a wonderful journey. How lucky are you to have had her in your life? Sending you healing love. Peace my friend.

  24. Maria, I’m so sorry to hear of Frieda’s passing. I had wondered about her, as this last Fall as I was recovering from surgery, and when I was able to get to my computer, I wasn’t seeing pictures of Frieda walking with you, and was wondering what was happening. I knew, inside me, though, what was probably happening, as I’ve gone through this with my dogs and cats over the years. I also felt it getting closer over this past month or so. You have been wonderful with your beloved Frieda, she has been wonderful for you over the years too. And, you know when it’s time…so hard, but so good also, as we each travel through this sadness, not alone, but knowing you have your loved ones around you, who understand, and help you say goodbye. My love to you Maria, through this, and you will be good on the other side of this too.

  25. Dear Maria.
    There are no words to say to bring comfort at a time like this, but perhaps it helps to know I am thinking of you and my heart is with you. It has been a tough winter, but we both know the sun will soon shine. Its a rotten deal we make when we get them, that with any luck they will leave here first. A rotten deal. But we make it because not having them, is not an option for us. And their magnificent lives, are worth it. And the beat goes on.

  26. Maria, My heart goes out to you over Frieda’s passing. Please know that we grieve, too, but we also remember her amazing life and love for you.

  27. This is a memorable photo of a faithful and glorious companion. Sympathies for your loss and happiness for what she brought to you over the years.

  28. Maria, I didn’t realize Frieda had become so frail and feel absolutely horrible about a comment I made a few weeks ago when you blogged about leaving her in the house when you went to your studio in spite of her going to the door with you and looking up as you left her. Now I understand and can recall at least twice when I stopped my ailing 15 yr old lab from going on a walk with my husband and our other dog as she struggled to catch up with them. I should have never questioned your decision and I apologize.

    I hope your wonderful memories of life with Frieda help heal your heart during this time.

  29. Maria
    What a beautiful post that was likely difficult to write. Thank you for sharing your deepest feelings and thoughts and know that my thoughts and sympathies are with you. It is difficult to lose a part of yourself, which Frieda was…….but you will never lose her, as she remains with you always in spirit, and what a joy that is.
    Love from Calif

  30. Maria, I went through almost the same things you had happen with Frieda, not wanting to acknowledge the health decline since I could not bear loosing Sheba, my families Belgian Tervuren. I didn’t want to let go but I had to when Sheba got so bad off. At least two friends recently have had aged pets put down. It is a hard and sad thing. You have a good support system with Jon and your friends. Besides Red, the kitties, your sheep and your attentive donkeys. What helped me was to adopt a border collie puppy. that didn’t mean I didn’t love Sheba, or anything like that. The puppy soothed my sorrow. I still would choke up if I saw a Terv on a dog show, thinking of Sheba who was the family protector, and everyone’s companion. Like your Frieda. Thinking of you Maria in your time of mourning.

  31. I just finished Second Chance Dog less than an hour ago. I went to the site to see her video and then saw this post. What a truly amazing soul Freida was. I am deeply saddened to hear that she is gone. I am sorry for your loss, what a gift you gave each other. Even though I don’t know you, you will be in my thoughts.

  32. Dear Maria,
    Sorry I am writing this so late but we are packing our house to move to Colorado Springs and I just now read that Frieda had passed on. When I read it, I immediately started to cry. You see, I first got to know about you though reading Jon’s book about Frieda, you, and Jon. So I held a soft spot in my heart for your little Frieda and would print pictures of her when you would show them on your site. Please know that I and thousands of other people are thinking of you and praying for you and Jon. And that Frieda is now watching you from over the Rainbow Bridge where you will see her again. You gave her the Best life ever. Peace to you and Jon – and Frieda too. Love, Candy Anderson

  33. Maria, I saw the post on Jon’s facebook and commented but felt I needed to say more. I am so sorry to hear about your beloved Frieda. I know how hard it is to let go of your sweet furry family members. My thoughts are with you, Frieda was lucky to be loved by you and you were lucky to be loved by her. It was a family meant to be.

  34. Maria, I truly believe that to love an animal and receive its love in return is one of the greatest gifts of all. Their love is unconditional. I know how difficult Frieda’s passing is, but you will be blessed with wonderful memories of the times you shared. She was a brave, courageous dog whose wild spirit allowed her to experience the world in a very real way. Your mutual devotion has been apparent in every word and picture you share of her. It is always difficult to see our beloved pets in decline, to see their once vibrant senses dull with the passing of years and to watch their steps slow. It was a difficult decision that you made, but a wise and loving one. You let her suffering end, her pain ease, and you were there with her to give support and love in those final moments. Her time on earth may have ended but she will always be with you in the memories that you have. Her spirit will walk through the woods with you, and her call will be like a whisper in the wind. You and Jon have suffered great losses these past few months, but the sun will shine, the flowers will bloom and warmth will return again to the peaceable kingdom known as Bedlam Farm. My thoughts and sympathy go to you and Jon. Gentle thoughts of Frieda remain forever etched in my mind.
    Jane M.

  35. I am so grateful to you and Jon for sharing the stories of your animals. When I purchased “Saving Simon”, I had Jon sign, ‘To Kathy, a vicarious farmer”. As an animal lover and pet owner, I’ve experienced the joy and the grief that comes with loving animals, and it seems that the two of you really have had your share of the grief recently. I’m very sorry for the loss of your pal Frieda. Thank you once again for the eloquent representation of your feelings for her. She sounded like one in a million…….

    Kathy P.

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