We first met Frida, a dog at the very heart of my family for the last 15 years, when she was part of the reason for the watermelon-sized belly on the bedraggled, ready-to-burst pregnant beagle, a stray rescued by PHS/SPCA. Once it became clear that the pregnancy was too far along for other options, my wife Carolyn decided we needed to foster the mom and whomever popped out. Seven pups were the immediate result. Two months later, with homes for mom and six, Frida was Carolyn’s choice for the one who got to stay. (I thought we might end up with mom and the whole bunch. We’ve always been better at keeping than at fostering.) Dad’s identity? Anyone’s guess. I always thought collie was a possibility but that’s probably less about her long, silky hair and more because I liked calling Frida our “bialy” (you know, be-ollie). Her look, like her personality, was one of a kind.
Always amazingly loving, although never simple or easy, Frida enriched and complicated our lives in equal measure. She was the exception to the rule “mutts are healthier” and I am certain her many surgeries and treatments paid for several vets’ kids’ college educations. But all that she gave in return repaid us in ways far more important than dollars. With the world’s best smile, a face better described as heartwarmingly sweet rather than just pretty (although she was pretty!), Frida exuded joyfulness. She literally turned heads wherever we went, making instant friends and fans of strangers even on our last trip – looking aged and not her best – just a few months ago. I couldn’t count how many times we heard “Can I take a selfie with your dog?” She was the dog who hugged you and made you feel loved and special no matter what else was going wrong. Every inch of her vibrating, almost a purr plus a hint of happy grunts, Frida would bury her whole self (body and more than just body) into you every chance she got and, instantly, the world was a better place. The world is now far less so.