I still want to call for Frieda each morning when I go to my studio. Sometimes I do, I just say it out loud, C’mon Frieda, I say as I’m walking out the back door. Why not, I figure it doesn’t really make a difference if I do or don’t. At some point I’ll be calling a new puppy to my studio in the morning and that will be great when it happens, but it’s not going to happen for a while. The puppies we’re considering are not even conceived yet. So for now, it’s me and a pretty flowered tin of Frieda’s ashes that I keep on my alter in my studio. And sometimes I say hello to them, or touch the tin on my way out, I’ll admit, I even kissed it once or twice.
But working alone in my studio every day, reminds me of what Frieda did for me, of the journey we took together. And it reminds me that I’m alone now, without her, because we both came out on the other side of that journey. We both learned what we need to learn to live a less fearful and more loving life.
Protection and trust. I remember sitting in the Dog Room at Old Bedlam Farm. Jon and I were just becoming friends, and he invited me over to meet Leslie, an animal communicator. The three of us sat there, tea cups in hand and I told Jon that I was afraid that Frieda might hurt someone, so I kept her away from people. I felt I had to protect her so nothing bad would happen to anyone else or her.
Working his “Attachment Theory” magic he turned it right back on me. He told me that, as a child I didn’t feel safe and was looking for someone to protect me. At that moment, I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. At the time I was still living in my family myth that my childhood was a happy, healthy one, with no issues or problems at all. Intellectually it took me years to understand what he was talking about, but intuitively it struck a chord and I started crying. At the time, I was uncomfortable crying in front of these people I hardly knew, but I couldn’t help it. So I cried.
Now it’s all very clear to me. My first dog was a Doberman mix and Frieda a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix. I never consciously wanted any kind of guard dog, but somehow I wound up with two. That’s no accident.
So Frieda gave me the protection I needed emotionally. I could put her between me and anyone I didn’t want to be around. She was my excuse. And it worked until I went to live with Jon. Because she didn’t like men anymore than I did. And while Jon was trying to train her to trust him so she could live in the house with us and the rest of the dogs, I was learning to trust Jon too. And when I saw the kind of patience and care he took with Frieda, and knew that he was doing it for me, I came to see and believe that there really were good men in the world.
Feeling safe took longer. That only happened in the last year or so. Could be around the time Frieda was starting to decline. Could be I realized I could protect myself when I saw she was declining. Because I can remember thinking that if Frieda died, I wouldn’t want another dog like her. I would want a dog like Lenore. A dog who was easy with people and I could take walks with in the woods and not have to worry about her running off. A dog who would sit in my studio with me, as Frieda always had, but not bark at someone when they came in the door. Because after being alive for 50 years, I finally felt safe and that I could protect and take care of myself if for some reason I didn’t. I didn’t need a guard dog anymore.
And that was Frieda’s and my journey together. We didn’t travel the world and have adventures, but learned how to live in trust and love. We both learned that not all men are bad and that we could live in a loving and happy home without fear coloring every moment of our lives.
So I may be alone in my studio for a while, until that next dog comes, but it’s okay. Because I’m living the life Frieda and I worked hard to get. One where I can be alone, trust people and myself and feel safe. And Frieda’s off doing what ever it is we all do when we die. But in a way, we’re still both doing the same thing. We’re both moving on to what ever comes next.