Bichon Frise Stories – Duffy and Amanda
Submitted by Amanda Willenborg is this beautiful story of her special relationship as a child with her sweet Bichon Frise “Duffy”, who was her Grandmother’s dog.
Cheetos and Puppy Tales
“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants” Johnny Depp
Dogs have often been touted as “Man’s Best Friend”, as Mankind’s boon companion for centuries. Authors like Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, and Aldous Huxley have written about their love for dogs and the feelings shared by dogs and humans.
I have experience with the love and companionship that a pet gives. When I was born, my grandmother owned a Bichon named Duffy, that she bought before I was born. She was loved by all of the family. She and I shared a special relationship.
As a child, my first and best friend was Duffy. Duffy was taller than a “standard” Bichon and had a brown nose and eyes, rather than the standard black. She was a full-bred Bichon, but due to her “abnormalities” she was not fit for show purposes, and her prior owner had her spayed and decided that she would be a pet instead. I like to think that she was a misfit dog for a misfit human.
Before and after I was born, my grandparents were told that they might have to get rid of Duffy because she was used to being the baby in the family and she might not like it that this new interloper, me, was coming in and taking her spot in the family. This was not the case, as the first time we met, she took an instant liking to me and we were firm friends from that moment on.
I consider Duffy as my first and best friend as a child, because I did not have any friends, most of my peers were more interested in making fun of me. Duffy did none of that. She was a supporting presence for me.
She even helped me learn how to walk and looked after me like I was her child. She never turned me a way when I needed comfort. From the very beginning, she made sure I was alright.
For my very first Christmas we were gathered at my grandparents’ house, our usual Christmas tradition. While my mother was changing me, I started to cry and throw a fit. Duffy, who was sitting in another room, would run into the room I was in, stare, and then run to the living room to each person there as if she were asking them to help me.
Traditionally, the Bichon Frise breed has been known to be a good family dog and one that is good with children. Duffy was no exception.
She stuck close to me every time I was at my grandparents. She would sit under my chair when I ate and would eat everything I dropped onto the floor. Duffy was a smart, well-trained dog; her previous owner had trained her to ring a bell when she needed to go outside. Soon after, she came to my grandparents, Duffy figured out that my grandmother would come running every time the bell rang and used that to her advantage. The bell quickly went away. Duffy could tell that if she stuck by me, she’d get a lot of extra tidbits.
When I was learning to walk, I would only do so if I was hanging onto something. Sometimes that thing was Duffy. We would be sitting on the living room floor together, with my arm around her back and we would walk around like that. After a while, when I was not watching, Duffy would walk away and I would still be walking around on my own. At least, until I noticed that Duffy was no longer with me. Then I would plop right down to the floor. Duffy would come back over and help me up again, and away we would go again.
I am not sure if I can remember this happening, or if it’s just my mother’s recollection of the tale. I remember the feeling of walking around with her. Perhaps it is just imprinted in my memory as something that I will never forget.
My mother and father worked, so I was often at my grandparents’ house. My mother told me that when she pulled into the drive way, she would often see Duffy and me waiting by the door for her. All she could see of the two of us would be a tail and two heads with only the eyes showing over the screen door.
One of our favorite things to do was to sit on the living room floor and share Cheetos, cookies, and nearly everything else I ate. I can still feel the carpet underneath me and Duffy sitting right next to me.
Those times with Duffy were some of the happier memories of my childhood and I really wish I could remember more than I do. Duffy was my companion. She never made fun of me. When I wasn’t feeling well, we would curl up in my grandfather’s chair with him and we would take a nap together. She would also sleep next to me on the couch when I napped.
I never needed to worry about being made fun of or worry that she would turn on me if I said the wrong thing, like my peers did. I could just be free to be me. She would have gone anywhere with me.
Our friendship lasted until 2000. While my parents and I were on a vacation to St. Louis Missouri, my grandparents had Duffy put to sleep. She had been suffering from Congestive Heart Failure and the vet told them that she would only get worse. My grandparents made the decision. I don’t remember knowing if she was sick or not, but I thought she was fine when we left for our vacation. My parents and I were not told until after we had come back from vacation. I think my grandmother wanted to protect me from the whole thing.
Perhaps I do not want to remember because it hurts to think that I did not even get to say goodbye to my best friend. I do not know if she was even buried. I remember being so heartbroken. I still am rather torn-up by losing her because she meant so much to me, she still does, after 13 years.
Duffy helped me learn how to walk and she was the shoulder I leaned on when I needed one. She was an influence in my life and I did not even get to see her one final time before she died. All I have left are my own hazy memories, pictures, and what other people tell me.
I do not think I have gotten over her death and I probably never will. It is evident how deeply we can care about our companions. This sense of loss never goes away. It almost feels like losing a part of ourselves when a beloved pet that we consider to be part of our family dies.
“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us”
Robert Louis Stevenson