His name was Frederick. I know this because I heard the neighbors call him one day. I call him “Freaky Fred”. He was a spastic rat terrier who I truly believe plotted ways to make my daily runs as difficult as he could. I have to say this dog drove me nuts. He would pop out from nowhere barking and nipping at my ankles sometimes causing me to fall flat on my face. I have had many “Freaky Fred” falls. Fred loved to torment my dogs as we would run. One time he popped out from a bush and jumped on Holly’s back. It was not a fun ride for Holly. Holly would look at me about a block before we would pass his house as if to say, “Oh please, don’t make me run past Freaky Fred today!” We tried to change our running route, but Freaky Fred always found us. I was always so annoyed at the fact that the owners of this dog didn’t watch him more closely.
A few weeks ago, I was determined to avoid our Freaky Fred encounter. I was alone on this run, and took a new route that I knew Freaky Fred would never figure out. As I was happily running along I was flagged down by a car. Inside the car was a little elderly man. As I got closer I could see he was crying. He said to me as he wiped the tears, “Miss, I know you run in our neighborhood a lot. We have lost our dog. We have looked for a day now and cannot find him.” As we talked about descriptions I realized the dog he was describing was Freaky Fred! Holy cow! I have to say my first thought was “No more Freaky Fred Falls! Hooray!” But then my heart sank as I saw this sweet man wiping tears. I told him, I would indeed look for his dog. I was completely off my regular route and felt Fred would not be anywhere close. I began to pray for Fred.....reluctantly, but I prayed. Then my heart had a turn of compassion for Fred and I wanted to find him! (That had to be God!) I was about 3 miles from where I spoke to Fred's owner, and as I was praying looked over and saw movement from behind a bush. I know God was in this passing glance. I never look at moving bushes when I run! I walked over and looked more closely and there was Fred! The little guy was shakin’ in his boots and was frozen with fear. His spots were muddy, and he was scared. He was not jumping up like popcorn anymore, and he looked so pathetic. I looked at him and said, “OK Fred, it’s you and me kid. We haven’t been the best of friends, in fact I have quite detested you, but I think we need to change that.” Fred would never let me near him in the past. He was always in attack mode so, I didn’t know how this was going to end. I held out my hand and just sat there. Fred slowly peeked his dirty face out from the bushes, and proceeded to do the popcorn jump bypassing my hand and landing smack dab in my lap, licking my face as if to say “I surrender! I am sorry! You are my friend!” It was at that moment Fred became my buddy. We had about 3 miles back on route to get him home. I held Fred all the way. It was quite the bonding 3 miles I must say. It was then I realized, Fred had a story. I just didn’t know what it was, but I was determined to find out.
As I walked up the hill, I saw the little elderly man standing in his driveway. I will never forget the moment that he saw me walking with Fred. He put his hands on his sweet face and in a quivering voice called out to me, “Is that Fred? Do you have our boy?” I waved to him and said “Yes! I found him!” I was determined not to cry at this point, but felt the tingle in my nostril, and that was it. The ugly cry began. I think back on that moment now and know it must have been quite a sight. A crying sweaty girl holding a muddy little rat terrier sobbing as I walked up the hill. Fred saw his owner and leaped out of my arms and the reunion began. (And my ugly cry became even uglier) Many tears, and many barks were had that day. As I began to talk to the owner of Fred, I smiled as I listened to Fred’s story. This elderly man was taking care of his wife who had Alzheimer’s. They rescued Fred over a year ago. He had been abandoned, and when he was found had cigarrette burns on his body, cuts, and had a bleeding neck from rope burns. They were Fred’s savior. They wanted to train Fred, but just had too many issues with their health that came up suddenly after they rescued him. They loved Fred in spite of his quirks....and there were many. When Fred was lost, his wife was distrought. She loved that little crazy dog. What would they do without Fred? As I walked into their backyard, I realized the small hole where Fred would make his daily escapes. The little man had no idea Fred was roaming wildly while he was inside taking care of his wife. We sealed up the hole and I looked at Fred. He was looking at me. He was really growing on me this Fred. (who was named after the man’s brother)
I spent several hours with this couple that day. I knew Fred’s story now, and so much more. As I ran home after a wonderful time with this couple, I thanked God for Fred. God taught me so much through this little fella. Fred was “Freaky” for a reason. His hard exterior was a cover up of deep hurt and pain. His fear brought out something in him that was a type of protection for him. It was as if he was saying, “I have been hurt, and by golly you won’t hurt me, in fact I’ll get you first!”
How many Freaky Fred’s have we had in our lives? How many times in life have we judged others too quickly not knowing their story? How many times have we been hurt or mistreated by others and left it as “well, they are just mean people!” How many names have we called others who are different? Do we have people that rub us like sandpaper in life? It may even be family members. I wish I could say I never did this. I am guilty. I have been around very hateful people who have hurt me deeply and I just completely left the situation annoyed, and disgruntled, and just plain mad. What I failed to realize is that maybe all they needed was a kind word, love, compassion, time to hear their story. I could not hold a grudge because I did not know their story! Just like Fred, shaking in the bush, they are in the same position crying out for attention, yet covering up with a completely different behavior. Sometimes that behavior being what we may interpret as just plain mean and cruel.
They have a story! As I ran home I just asked God to forgive me for the many times I had labeled people who had hurt me as “Freaky Fred’s” . They were not freaky at all, they were fabulous! I just needed to love and look! I asked God to open my eyes and let me see what He was seeing in these people.
On my runs now, Fabulous Fred is always watching eagerly at the little window in the gate. His tail wags with glee when he sees me! I always go over and pet him and have a chat with him. In fact I decided that 1 or 2 days a week I would leave my dogs at home and go walk with Fred. I have had a chance to do some training with him, and he is quite the smart one! We are the best of buds now, and his owners and I are friends too! If you would have told me a few months ago, Fred and I would be friends, I would have never believed it.
God has a wonderful way of helping us turn Freaky into Fabulous! I challenge you to think of those in your life who totally annoy you, or who have hurt you. Pray for them, ask God for opportunities to change Freaky into Fabulous! You will be amazed how He reveals things and opens door for change.....and usually the change begins in your own heart. It’s pretty neat. I love these life changing journey’s with God. I am always amazed how He teaches me lessons on these journey’s in my life. And sometimes those lessons even come wrapped in the form of a little dog named Frederick. Bark on my friends, bark on!!!