From the Braver Institute
They say that a man’s best friend is his dog. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t had a dog since I was a child. Lady was a German Shepherd/ Collie mix that my dad brought home when I was a little kid. She had two pups that my older siblings named Taja and Fagin. I think my family has one photo of these dogs, and my only memory of them is that they existed.
Growing up I never wanted a dog. I didn’t need one. I had the best dog you could ever have. He belonged to our neighbors, the Simpsons, across the street.
Freckles was this little mutt of a dog with a skunk tail, golden brown on white fur with a snout full of golden brown freckles.
Yes, Freckles technically wasn’t mine, but you would never know it when we were both outside. I should pause for a moment and add my best friend, Denny, into this story as well. The two of us could share an equal claim to Freckles, and we three were always together.
Freckles was never chained up. He was a smart dog, and usually stayed close to home unless he was with Denny or me. And when we were out exploring, Freckles went along for the adventure.
I don’t know how Freckles knew when I would be going outside, but he would be waiting by the basement door when I opened it even though I had seen him moments before, across the street in Simpson’s yard. He must have been able to hear me coming down the stairs. Either that or he was psychic.
Denny and I would walk out into the woods, down to the lake, or back to the ponds near our homes. Freckles would take off with us, and would usually disappear somewhere up the trail ahead of us. More often than not, we wouldn’t see him again until we got to our destination. Freckles would always be waiting there for us, wherever there was. We wouldn’t even have a destination in mind, and that mutt would be sitting there when we arrived. Maybe he really was psychic.
As I mentioned, Freckles was a smart dog, so smart that he made Lassie look like an obedience school drop-out. If Denny or I had been stupid enough to fall to the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft, Freckles wouldn’t have run for help, Freckles would have built a derrick, attached block and tackle to it, and then pulled us out by hooking the works up to the tractor trailer he commandeered to haul the supplies there.
Freckles never left “surprises” in our yards, which was nice of him. As far as I know he didn’t leave them in Simpson’s yard either. No, Freckles would save his lawn presents for the yards of the people in our neighborhood that were on his...umm...gift list.
There was one neighbor who lived a couple of houses up the road who had thrown rocks at Freckles one day. Every time we walked by the house of the rock thrower, Freckles made it a point to stroll through the front yard and leave his calling card. There was another house he did this at as well, but I do not know what he had against that homeowner.
In a way, Freckles was like the neighborhood dog. He was friendly to all of the kids, and all of the kids were friendly to him, but he liked Denny and me the best. It didn’t matter what he was doing, or who was petting him at the moment, if either of us called his name, he quickly showed his allegiance, and was at our feet, ready to go.
Looking back now I feel a bit guilty. As I grew older, I was introduced to the world of cars and the territory I roamed grew larger, and Freckles stayed home. I feel like I had abandoned him. He was getting old though, and would often turn back home after only a short walk through the woods—he couldn’t keep up anymore. I was in my prime, and I could not be expected to stay in my yard for the rest of my life.
I don’t remember exactly when Freckles died, but I do remember that the circumstances sounded a bit strange. Freckles was hit by a car out on the highway.
This didn’t make any sense at all. The highway was further than Freckles was wandering those days, and he was too smart to get hit by a car. Countless times I had seen him wait by the side of the highway for traffic to clear. He would look both ways before crossing, always.
Freckles was a great dog. He was everything a dog should be and more. Since Freckles, I have had no desire to own a dog. Freckles spoiled me. He provided me with all the benefits of owning a dog, without any of the hassles.
Freckles was the perfect pet.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Braver Institute at www.braverinsitute.com.