Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Tribute To Frida



Frida came to us in December 2008. Tiny thing with matted hair, thin, shy but not hostile. She showed up at the office parking lot (yes, her too). I saw her two or three times, scurrying around the cars, looking so small. So vulnerable.

I left early that afternoon for some reason I don't remember--usually I worked until 7 or 8 pm. When I walked out of the building, the sun was setting and the air had that peachy glow of Caribbean dusks. I saw her then as she hurried away, out into the street.


And I couldn't help myself.

"Hey. Doggie, hey." I went down into a crouch, and felt tears well up as she shuffled closer with ears lowered and tassel tail wedged tight against her tummy. Larger dogs can put up a fight. Larger dogs can run away. But little ones have few choices. And this one had already learned humans are a non-detractable force, they barrel down on the helpless, and resisting only makes it worse.

"Come, baby. Come."

She did. She sat about a meter away, head down, and--I swear--a plea for mercy in her big brown eyes. She let me touch her, even managed to wag that tail so stiff with fear.

A colleague on her way to her car saw us. "Aw, that's a cute dog."

"Would you like to keep her? She needs a home."

I saw the nose wrinkle, the eyes travel over the dirty fur. The answer would be the same answer this little one had known all her life. "Uh, I can't."

I live in an apartment. I already have a dog. I don't have time. It doesn't matter what the superficial justification is. Underneath, what they're saying is She's dirty. She's not pedigreed. She's unhealthy.

The little dog didn't resist when I picked her up. She didn't flinch when I opened the passenger door. She cowered on the floor mat where I set her down, and didn't move in the fifteen minutes it took to drive home.

I was driving slow. I was crying.

Cor named her Frida (because of the eyebrows). Frida lived with us for three years. I like to think she was happy. She chased pigeons every morning as soon as the kibble clattered into her bowl. Maybe she was showing us how valuable her contribution to the household was, how she earned her keep. Cor thinks she was announcing to the pigeons This is my food, not yours. She scratched furiously at the tile floor before lying down to sleep. When we moved into our own house in 2010, she discovered dry leaves--and fell irredeemably in love.

Frida died on April 13th, 2012. Ehrlichia. I still cannot forgive myself. The vet said she'd probably had it for a long time. Why didn't the first vet that saw her find it? We could have treated it. Could've given her--us--a few more years. Since then, our dogs get tested for it regularly, especially during and after tick season.

Frida shouldn't have had to die to keep the others safe.


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