A few days ago, Canine Angels founder Rick Kaplan lost his personal service dog of 14 years. Freddie was the pack’s beloved senior member. Despite cancer, a titanium knee and painful arthritis, Freddie refused to be left out anything the Angels were doing. He was a trooper to the end, when he searched for Rick in the middle of the night to say goodbye.
Freddie and his sister, Ginger, who was waiting to greet him, made more than 2,000 documented therapy visits together. Rick’s favorite recollection was the day he and his two chocolate Labs were sent to visit a young woman with pancreatic cancer. Rick got off the elevator with Ginger, but no Freddie. Unusual, because Freddie would never left Rick’s side from the time he was a pup.
Rick jumped back on the elevator to search for him. No Freddie downstairs. No Freddie on the second floor. He went back upstairs, where a nurse told him his dog was in room 312. Freddie was in bed, snuggling under the covers with the cancer patient they had been sent to visit.
Two hours later, Rick tried to get Freddie to take a break. For the first time, Freddie refused direct commands. For six hours, he would not leave the woman’s side. Not to pee. Not to eat. Not to answer his master.
After a long day, longer than Rick and Ginger had planned to put in, Freddie came strutting back, wagging his tail. His job was done. He had kept the dying woman company on her journey. She was gone.
Freddie was always the sensitive one, but a wimp, Rick remembers. When a predatory animal once threatened their property, Ginger took care of business while Freddie hid behind a bush.
There’s no way to lose a family member of 14 years without pain, as all dog owners know. And the hole Freddie left in our hearts is deep.
You’ll be missed, Freddie.