The Cottage Smallholder

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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


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  1. Sarah from Essex

    A huge intake of breath when I read your posting. Our Golden Retriever, ROX, has already consumed my hypertension tablets (aged six months) and some fairtrade 80% dark chocolate (12 months). She is just two now and two emergent occasions and two lots of very expensive Vets fees later; she is full of life and she is an absolute joy. Whatever the cost, Rox is absolutely worth every penny. What an uncompromising joy dogs are to a human environment. She seems to be a discerning goldie; not too keen on mice, birds, etc but the finer things in life (Fairtrade variety only!) is her passion. That and, of course, constant strokes and cuddles. Its my daughter’s and I first venture into Retrivers after a mixed cross and a German Shepherd. It has been a canine revolution.

  2. How funny! I looked at the link and I wrote then that I was taking notes. I had forgotten about them. I will definitely order some of these toys. Thank you. x

  3. I loved this post, it’s destined to become one of your classics I’m sure! I’m glad Freddie is OK; and I never knew decorating could be such an exciting job!

  4. I’m beginning to think Freddie needs a blog of his own.
    Do let us know when you set it up. He already has a huge following.

  5. I must say that having forwarded Fiona’s original post on to some close friends who are familiar with Freddie and his ‘ways’; I didn’t anticipate such an eloquent response…
    Jimmy N, I salute you and I have to sadly admit that it is all true- although you didn’t mention the Lavender Bush…???
    He may not be the best behaved dog (!!!)- but I am glad that his character allows him to be remembered!
    Caz-You are not his Godmother- rather his ‘Dog-mother’- perhaps he is in need of a bit of Spiritual guidance???

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Belinda

    How terrible that your friend lost her pup at eight months.

    Love the name Chaos.

    Staffs are great dogs with lots of punch and generally sweet natured when the moment is right.

    Our youngest Min Pin is a bit of a handfull. Especially since the senior dog passed to that great dog bed in the sky. It’s difficult to get the balance right – firm but loving.

    I’m reading The Dog Whisperer!

    Hi Sarah

    Having dogs around when I decorate has been a bit of learning curve! But I do enjoy their company and exploits.

    Circe sounds like my sort of lab! Freddie’s nose only went freckled when he started to eat the paving slabs on the terrace…

    Love the image of Circe with the loo brush!

    Hello Polly

    That is amazing. Cauliflower over beef? The dog must have been earwigging those (often guilty) five a day conversations. I’m sure that our Guinea Fowl have the kitchen bugged as they seem to prefer vegetable scraps and grass over corn or layers pellets.

    Hi Michelle

    Great to hear about your dogs. Interesting that they have a passion for fresh fruit too! A friend of our has given up growing tomatoes as her youngest lab scoffs the lot just as they are ripe for picking.

    The Min Pins graze on the wild mountain strawberries that I grow as ground cover in the garden. Luckily they haven’t discovered that the windfall apples taste good as I like to collect these for chutney and jelly!

    Hello Jane

    Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are so pretty and such gentle dogs. Well done for rescuing them.

    Puppy farms are appalling. Perhaps the credit crunch will finally kill them off. The problem is that we are willing to pay such high prices for puppies in the UK. Tonight I heard about French Bulldog bitches being sold for over £3,000.
    Hello Jimmy

    We loved your comment. I read it in the car, sitting outside Davros’s house. Danny read it again and again that evening.

    And we laughed. Each time. A wonderful, refreshing comment that stillmakes me smile when I drift back to savour the words.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this comment.. Loved the ‘Jimmy Chews’ and the idea of making one pair out of the two orphans! Brilliant stuff.

    Hello Amanda

    The chewing phase goes on for quite a while (Freddie is 18 months). Loved the idea of her testing out the Andrex puppy vis a vie lo rols.

    I’m not sure how big your pup is but have you found the Petstages toys? They are available locally in our region. I wrote about them here . Only Inca (now nearly three) has properly ground tested these toys and she loved them. They were really sturdy and kept her amused for hours on end. She still plays with the pug. You can buy them on Amazon and they are not expensive. They are also attractive to have about the house.

    So many dog toys are ugly. These are beautifully deigned for small dogs.

    Hi Shelley

    Brandon and Meg sound like the sort of team that one needs to burrow into a bank vault! So sweet the way that Brandon took the flack!

    Hi Caz

    I envy you. I’d love to be Freddie’s Godmother. He is one of the sweetest dogs that I’ve met on my travels. And he’s bright too.

  7. I’m ashamed to call myself Freddie’s God-Mum! Still, he’s spiritually on cloud 9 and I don’t think it’s legally binding…

  8. I read with fond memories the post about Freddie. We have two labs Brandon(black) and Meg(yellow. When they were pups we gave up trying to cure their ‘chew’ stages. We came down one morning to find Brandon with his nose in a hole he had chewed through the plaster board wall. He looked at us as if to say ‘what me?’ He was repremanded as best you can a naughty lab. Thing is obviously Meg had helped as the next day Meg left us some very strange looking doggie doos!!

  9. Loved this post Fiona. Loved the message from Jimmy N too.

    Our new puppy is fab but I’ve already hit the stage of thinking what on earth have I done. Most of the time she’s absolutely great but she loves chewing, mostly the boys feet! They tend to ignore her most of the time being quite relaxed but get pretty fed up when they’re sat reading and she starts tugging on their socks until they come off, running away with her steal, she then runs back and keeps biting at their feet until they feel that they have to retreat to their room.

    She’s giving the Andrex puppy a run for it’s money too. So much so we decided to move the toilet roll holder higher up the wall. Hubs DIY skills are next to useless and it promptly fell off the wall the first time we needed paper… toilet rolls now sit on top of the cistern.

    All good fun.

  10. I read this with great interest and the chance to comment seems too good an opportunity to miss.

    You see Freddie does occasionally travel to other people’s homes with his master who we shall call Davros to respect his privacy.

    Now back in September whilst his wife, who we shall call Maggie, was away Davros came up for the day to play golf. So as not to abandon Freddie, or Freddie Krueger as we now know him, he was brought along to housesit whilst we were away.

    Now Freddie does have a crate which he’s happy to snooze in but being as he is ‘So well behaved’ just leaving him with the run of the kitchen and utility seemed like a perfectly safe option. I’ve know Davros for many years and both he and Maggie often tell us how wonderfully behaved their beautiful Freddie is.

    I should have seen the warning signs as we left – when Davros was moving things to the back of our worktops just to make sure Freddie didn’t try to grab anything (apparently he’d never done this before though). Hindsight, such a wonderful thing.

    We had a pretty good round of golf, Davros tried his hardest but let’s just say it’s a good job he purchased a few extra balls before we started. Just as we were coming off the course I checked my phone, I had a 5 missed calls and a text from my wife who we shall call Doris which read… “We are never ever getting a (rude word) Labrador!”

    So I showed Davros the text and he didn’t actually look too surprised but he did go a little pale and muttered the words “oh bugger, is Doris going to kill me?”

    To cut a long story short, my wife came home about two hours after we were left and you can imagine her surprise to find that she was met at the front door (remember he was shut into the kitchen originally) by a barking Freddie with his paws up on the door and a lone shoe at his feet.

    It would appear that Freddie had had a lovely time with a new playground to explore. He had explored all the bedrooms and checked the beds for comfort and views – presumably looking for ducks to bark at. He hadn’t approved of the pillows being on the beds and obviously felt they looked better on the bedroom floor. He’d even managed to get under one of the beds to dig out a couple of pair of Doris’ shoes and a large stuffed toy frog. We’re not too sure what he did to the frog but he lost an eye and his left leg – and it needed a wash. The shoes didn’t do too well either but he obviously disliked the taste as he only crewed one before moving on to the second pair. In the kitchen it was a similar story, he’d modified our carved wooden doorstop and managed to get various things off the work tops. One of the more exciting things he’d found was a tube of sun cream – he obviously especially liked this as he’d taken it on a tour of the lounge and our new sofas. They’re probably just close enough together that he was able to jump between them with the punctured tube in mouth.

    When we arrived home we were not sure who was going to be in the most trouble, Davros for bringing him, me for letting him stay or Freddie for doing what comes naturally. Doris was stood by the front door Jimmy ‘Chews’ in hand – we tried to lighten the mood by suggesting maybe ‘you could make one good pair of shoes out of the two original pairs’ it was soon apparent that it was still far too early for such flippancy.

    Freddie was the first to be forgiven; the puppy eyes were too much. Davros got away with a little frostiness because apparently it was ALL my fault.

    To this day Davros and Maggie have assured us this was a freak occurrence and Freddie is a model citizen…. So I have to say I’m glad, no delighted, that he’s been causing bedlam at home as well as away.

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