I just saw a small video on FaceBook that reminded me of our dog Fred (Freddy). In the video, a young man serving in Afghanistan finds a dog, names him Fred, and brings him home to the States after his tour is over. It was a heartwarming story that was eerily familiar to me.
In 1968, my family was stationed at Goose Bay Air Force Base remotely located in Labrador, Canada. The base was a bit North of Maine. Imagine how cold it must get there. I was the oldest kid in the family and attending high school. My sister Christine was two years younger.
One very cold day near Christmastime, Christine opened the front door to our house and let in a funny looking black dog. She named it Fred but we mostly called him Freddy. He was incredibly short for his size. He was as long as a typical German Shephard but as tall as a Bassett Hound. His ears were pointed and stood up on his head and you might imagine that he had a bit of Corgi in him. He was skinny back then and amazingly well behaved but he was great at begging for food so he didn’t stay skinny long. Before long the family grew attached to him. However, we were on a remote assignment and this situation was not destined to end well. There would come a time when my dad’s tour was over when we would have to leave Canada and say goodbye to Freddy. In order to stave off the inevitable heart break, my father decided to do the responsible thing and find Freddy a new home. He packed up the toys from the chair that Freddy had adopted and took him to a neighbor not far away. Not far enough anyway, Freddy was back sitting on our snow covered porch waiting to be let in the next day. Once again, Dad packed up Freddy in the ’58 Chevy Station Wagon and delivered him to his new owners. Freddy came back and that was that, we definitely had a dog. Why he chose us to stay with us will always be a mystery but it was clear as to why my dad grew attached.
My father had a job that would sometimes require him to go in the darkest coldest part of the night. The phone would ring and he would have to go into work. When Dad went in Freddy would go with him and wait in the car. I think my father enjoyed the company and Freddy loved to ride in the car. Often times it was 20 below zero. When it came time for our family to leave Goose Bay, Dad pulled all of the strings he needed to and spent what he had to so that Freddy could come back with us to California. My father often told friends that he had spent a hundred and fifty dollars (a lot of money to us back in 1969) to bring back a fifteen cent dog but we all knew that he would have spent three times that much.
I lived with Freddy until I left the house for my own Air Force Assignments. After I left home I would come back to spend Christmas with my family and Freddy. Later on, I had a family that visited. We don’t know how old Freddy was when we took him in but he stayed for 14 years until the summer of 1982.
He was such a beautiful dog. And so funny! He packed a lot of personality in that compact body.