The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Freddie – a dog with personality



I knew on the recce visit that Freddie could be a good companion. His beautiful deep brown eyes sized me up carefully.
“Do you think that Freddie will be a problem?”
“Of course not. He’s lovely.”
Somewhere deep down inside I reckoned that there might be glitches. I could tell from his glance that he agreed.

Generally when I’m decorating houses I have learnt to be firm and cool with the resident dogs. Otherwise I’m suddenly having to deal with paint tinged disasters. Like the time that Buster, the Norfolk Terrier, took a short cut across my paint tray and rambled slowly upstairs. The furry feet acted like four small sponges and were harder to clean than the long trail of footprints that extended rapidly when he heard my shriek.

I ignored Freddie for the first two weeks and the gesture was returned. The only blonde hairs in the paint pots were mine. His life is a good one. Two decent walks a day, loving owners and a capacious leather sofa for super snoozing.

Last week Freddie was out of his cage/crate when I arrived, dozing beside the remnants of the latest tasty discovery. He has an appetite for dustpans, logs and sand paper but his real passion is strewn across his lawn.

A massive pear tree overhangs his garden. The branches are still full of firm chunky fruit. Each day there are a few more windfalls on the grass, crisp and tempting. Perfect for chomping and burying to retrieve later. Freddie finds this fun, digging a big hole, dropping in a pear and then nosing the soil carefully over the fruit. Then the soil has to be pushed aside to check that the location of the pear is perfect.

Relocation can take some time. It’s a wonderfully muddy, messy, pear chomping process.

Once the pear is buried there is the question that faces pear lovers the world over.
“Is the pear in the hole better than the twenty two on the lawn?”

More excavations. Followed by diligent sampling and comparisons between clean pears from the grass and those coated with layers of mud. Pear projects keep him happy for hours. Eventually he stands outside the French windows – carefully graded muddy pear in jaw.

This is when I finally put my brush down and say “Non.”
“No” doesn’t seem to work with Freddie but the definitive French word seems to do the trick. The fruit is quickly hidden in a raised bed and he saunters in for a power nap.

Gradually Freddie’s misdemeanours have racked up. When his Master arrives back from work he is waiting by the door to greet him. I make his apologies.
 – “After a long and muddy walk, he pushed past me and dried his paws on your beautiful white duvet.”
 – “I found him in the spare bedroom, barking at the ducks on the pond. I called him downstairs but he ignored me. Is he deaf?”
 – “Unfortunately he has eaten some of the skirting on the landing. Would you like me to repair it?”

This morning I arrived to find a chewed bottle of contact lens solution half opened on the kitchen floor. Freddie looked sheepish. I examined the bottle for a list of contents. The small print informed me that contents were detailed in the paper instructions that came with the bottle. Presumably F had eaten these.

In the killing grounds beside the sofa I discovered a ripped sponge bag, a small empty tooth-marked bottle of Listerene mouthwash and the torn remnants of a bubble pack of pills. There were a lot of semi chewed pills spread across the floor. Freddie watched from the sofa as I swept up the debris and put my dustpan well out of reach.

I telephoned his Master and rang the vet. F discovered a chubby biro while I was talking to the veterinary nurse. He quickly traded it for a dog treat.

The vet rang back an hour later.
“No problem with the contact lens solution. The Listerene mouthwash is more worrying and depending on the amount of pills he has eaten, there could be kidney failure.”
Freddie was wagging his tail, looking chipper on the sofa
“Shall I bring him in?”
“It’s too late. A dog needs to be seen within 15 minutes of ingesting pills. Bring him in if he starts vomiting or begins to act strangely.”

I kept F close by me all day. He loved it. While I was painting the windows upstairs he tested all the beds and barked through the open windows. When he took long naps I checked that it wasn’t a coma. Each time, he opened his soulful eyes, licked my hand and rolled over for a belly rub. On and off all day he tried to tempt me into the garden by posing with muddy pears outside the double glazed back door. At around four in the afternoon I’d fallen in love with this dark eyed, fair haired labrador.

Freddie is fine. He has survived his foray into the sponge bag and will be beside me tomorrow on my last day. I plan to arrive early and play a simple retrieval game. On the lawn with pears.

Related dog posts that may be of interest:

Dog days


  Leave a reply


  1. samantha winter

    Hi Fi
    He sounds wonderful! So maughty – glad he was Ok.

  2. Thank you for this charming post. You should submit it for publication to a magazine that prints personal essays. I’m sure lots of other people would enjoy reading it too.

  3. Sorry I meant to say Flat coat retriever there. not a flat coar! lol typing fingers all over the place it is friday after all!

  4. We used to have a golden retriever, Henry… I could never work out if he was 1, deaf, 2 stupid,or 3, so clever that he had us all fooled.

    He would never come when called. If it was walk time and it was raining he would have to be forced out of the door, being dragged by the Flatcoar Retriever, Sebastian, (that doesnt look like the correct spelling there?), who was so impatient for their walk he would tug on his lead to get him out the door.

    Towards the end of both their lives, he became so slow, that Sebastian would walk him. You would put the lead on them both. Drop the leads on the floor to put your coat on and Seb would have picked Henrys lead up. He wouldnt let go. So you grabbed Sebs lead and walked out. It was as if Seb was protecting him from you walking too fast. As in ‘he is my buddy, dont rush!, we will get there in the end.’

    I miss those dogs, true faithful friends. Neither will ever be replaced.

  5. Jane aka:aromatic

    Sounds a really lovable rogue…. and thankfully he survived his foray. Freddie lives to see another day!
    I imagine you are going to be very sad to say goodbye to him.
    Lots of tummy rubs and pear games today then…
    Jane xxx

  6. I would have thought that all the necessary acoutrements for decorating would be a nightmare with a dog around. Even trying to read a paper on the floor or on the sofa with Max around is bad enough. Max is especially fond of stealing balls of wool out of my knitting bags then giving them a good terrier shake so I have to move all my bags when he comes to stay. Dogs do have the weirdest tastebuds, don’t they? Max would sell his soul for a bit of lettuce and oranges of any size. But for all that they are just such good company. I know how empty my flat feels when Max goes home.

  7. magic cochin

    He sounds adorable – if demanding! I didn’t know dogs would go for pears! But then again foxes eat fruit.

    Bet you miss him when you finish this project 🙂

  8. Oh boy – this is so familiar! One of my Cairns eats pears (but he doesn’t bury them) and the other one buries rawhide bones (but doesn’t eat them) between them they might add up to a Freddie.

    What a lucky lab he is that you were there to supervise his recovery.

  9. That’s labradors for you. My sister’s used to eat telephone directories, regularly, and ease their passage with entire 2lb tubs of margarine. We suspected he had a theory about staying yellow.
    Glad Freddie’s OK. Glory, though, what is he doing to do to that house when you’re NOT there?!

  10. I really loved reading this piece. The obsession with Pears was amazing and the last paragraph was so touching. You must be so relieved that he is okay – hope you both enjoy your game – he will miss you I’m sure. x

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