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Chasing Freedom

February 27, 2013
 Mrs. Chatterbox was responsible for driving to the pound and selecting our longest lasting dog, a peculiar looking mutt our son named Ginger. Actually, CJ wanted to name the pooch Rambo but we convinced him Ginger was a more suitable name for a girl dog. Ginger had been at the pound a long time and her stay was coming to an end. Her ticket to the Rainbow Bridge was going to be stamped that evening. She never forgot that Mrs. Chatterbox saved her, and for many years she and Mrs. C. were inseparable. As far as Ginger was concerned, the sun rose and set with my wife. Mrs. C. was inconsolable when Ginger died, but after a period of grieving I accompanied her to the pound to rescue another dog in need of a home.


As an artist, most of my decisions are aesthetic, a big mistake when it comes to picking dogs. I passed over gentle faces wagging their tails and promising to snuggle on the couch and pass me the remote. Instead, I chose the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen, a gold and white, blue-eyed Australian shepherd named Freedom. For reasons I can no longer recall, I renamed him Cody.

Had I studied up on the breed I’d have learned that Australian shepherds are as intelligent as they are active. They need a job, preferably herding sheep, of which our condominium was in short supply. Cody did the best with what he had, and constantly tried to herd us into the hallway. He barked nonstop and his fluffy tail was a disaster for Mrs. C’s collectables. He ran around our condo faster than the Road Runner.

One day Cody slipped out of his leash while I was loading him into the car for a ride to the park. He was off like Secretariat. Soon he was out of hearing range, and before long he’d vanished. Mrs. C. and I hunted the neighborhood for him. He’d never responded to voice commands but we kept yelling out his name, “Cody…Cody…Cody…”

An hour later we regrouped in front of our condo and took a breather. “You know,” Mrs. C. said, “he really hasn’t been with us long enough to know his new name.”

By gosh, she was right. We split up and continued our search, yelling out our run-a-way’s original name. I finally found him several blocks away, rolling about in someone’s petunias. Mrs. C., unaware that I’d found him, continued to run through the neighborhood, waving her hands and shouting, “Freedom…Freedom…Freedom…”

A young African American woman was driving by. She heard Mrs. C., slowed down and pumped a fist of solidarity through the car window. “Freedom’s where it’s at, sister!” she shouted. “You go, girl!”

Several weeks later we found a more suitable home for Cody…er Freedom, who ended his days on a ranch in Central Oregon, where he had all the freedom he could want.

We’re between dogs at the moment, but when we adopt another it will be Mrs. C. making the selection.


Awww...Ginger looks precious. I love dogs, too. I no longer am up for having a dog because I like to take little trips and they require care. Go figure. Still...there is something wonderful about rescuing a dog. They always seem to know they have been saved and are appreciative. I can't go near a rescue group or I would be bringing dogS home. Funny about Mrs. C calling out Freedom. That could of worked against her if it had been Ginger that had gone MIA, At least if she ran near a group of redheads. That is now considered an offensive term. Then you would be telling a story about how Mrs. C got smacked down by a group of angry red heads.
By: Cheryl P. on February 27, 2013
As usual you make me smile and laugh with an occasional tear. This is such a sweet story about GInger and I am glad Freedom got his Freedom! We had a Basset Hound named Basil who loved to roam- He finally took off with (true story) a group of 60's hipppies in the Portland State University area and never returned. Friends would see him from time to time and he was happy as can be with all those kids. Menwhile we got a more reasonable Springer who just liked being home with our kids.
By: Kathe W. on February 27, 2013
What a great story Stephen, love it!
By: John on February 27, 2013
ha! what a story! our first dog was named Dude, my husband warned no! no! do not go for this hunting wild male pick this gentle quiet female dog. we didn't listen. one disaster after another then happened...and the neighbors were all getting mad...finally grandma took Dude....
By: momto8blog on February 27, 2013
The description of the hunt cracked me up. Been there, done that!
By: Shelly on February 27, 2013
What a great story. I agree that your wife should choose your next pet. Bwahahahahahahahaha. I love the name Freedom. Have a fabulous day. :)
By: Comedy Plus on February 27, 2013
I suppose researching a breed won't be a forlorn thought in the future. You need a lap dog that doesn't require much in the way of exercise. A dog that speaks to your character and personality. A loving demeanor. Your breed should be: American Mastiff
By: Daniel LaFrance on February 27, 2013
It's a good thing his name wasn't Dammit!!
By: fishducky on February 27, 2013
As soon as I saw "Australian Shepard" I knew you were in trouble. I did not peg you for a high energy dog. You go girl...very funny. I had a friend whose 3 yo little girl lost her sneaker. She was out in front of her African American neighbor's yard yelling for her lost shoe, "neeker, neeker, neeker" The neighbor's reaction to her parents was not quite the same as Mrs. C recieved while yelling "Freedom, Freedom"
By: Cranky Old Man on February 27, 2013
I suppose this will sound as if I made it up, but I used to know someone who had a cat named Slut. Can you imagine calling, Slut! Slut! Where are you, Slut? Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on February 27, 2013
We too had an australian shepard and ironically he was one of the calmest animals I ever had. Perhaps the herding helped. He even taught our poodle to herd chickens. Just put a recent blog up in his honor as it is coming on the anniversary of his passing last year. He was a great dog! As Im sure they all are..
By: lydia on February 27, 2013
I've made the same mistake of choosing a dog on the basis of appearance when we bought a Dalmation some years ago - beautiful-looking animal with a caring heart. The flip side? Not the brightest beast, hyperactive and strong as an ox - not to mention a swishing tail that could lift pints of beer off a coffee table. Despite all the torment, I miss him.
By: Bryan Jones on February 27, 2013
Freedom seems like a very odd name for a dog. I suppose most breeds have their problems. Bulldogs have a lot of health issues for instance. So I guess it's best to stay with mutts.
By: PT Dilloway on February 27, 2013
My suggestion will be to adopt a cat. If it's an indoor only cat, you will never have to chase it, it won't herd you anywhere, and ...oh, well, if you insist on a dog, get one that sleeps a lot.
By: mimi on February 27, 2013
Awes! I can imagine that was irritating, but I may have stopped and said the same seeing the mrs run through the neighborhood yelling freedom. :)
By: Hey Monkey Butt on February 27, 2013
That's a MUCH better story than the time my mom was yelling at our dog Blackie when an African American gentleman was walking down our road...
By: The Bug on February 27, 2013
LOVE this story! I would have a hard time at a shelter choosing a dog. I'd come home with as many as my car would hold. And K is worse than me! S
By: scott park on February 27, 2013
A good read for anybody in the market for a dog: "Your Purebred Puppy" by Michele Welton. Seriously. When you adopt a dog, take this book with you & look up the characteristics of the mix you have your eye on. Might change your mind. This was a great post Stephen! Both Ginger and Freedom were lucky dogs. :-)
By: Kerry on February 27, 2013
What an adorable story! Ginger looks like such a sweetie! I'm sure if you let Mrs. C pick the next one, you'll end up as happy as you all were with Ginger. :-)
By: Lexa Cain on February 27, 2013
It takes quite a bit to make me laugh out loud, but you did it :)
By: jenny_o on February 27, 2013
I guess you've given Ginger a better home where she can run all she wants. Good luck with the next pet though I know even as I say this, that there'll be another story with that one :)
By: Anne on February 27, 2013
Those herding dogs! Mine love to sneak along behind me and jab their noses into my hamstring. Usually when I've got my hands full of groceries. I refuse to be herded, but they never stop trying.
By: Val on February 27, 2013
all of our cats chose us - Charlie was in the garden the day we came to look at the house and both he and Willow were in and out all the time before we officially took them on Giles just wondered in from nowhere one day - i still think there must be a Cat Hotel sign somewhere...
By: dont feed the pixies on February 28, 2013
A great story, Stephen. I admire you for choosing to adopt, as there are many fine dogs that need a loving home.
By: Michael Manning on February 28, 2013
I wanted to name our dog, an Icelandic Sheepdog, something cool. Like 'Thor' or 'Loki.' But, my family wanted him to keep the name he was given by his original owners (as if the frikkin' dog would mind??): Taeson. It sounds like Tyson. And I always have to tell people that we didn't name him after a black prizefighter or brand of chicken.
By: Al Penwasser on February 28, 2013
I'm more of a cat person, but I loved your story about Ginger and Freedom!
By: Pixel Peeper on February 28, 2013
Ha.. Australian Sheps are incredibly beautiful dogs but yes, a lot of work. Much like a little JRT I know and love. Your wife's tale about Freedom solidarity is a hoot.
By: Hilary on March 1, 2013
Oh and Daniel's comment made me laugh too.
By: Hilary on March 1, 2013
Great story, Ginger must have been a great dog, and I''m glad Freedom got to run on a ranch, dogs who do not have enough to do start barking a lot or eating things and destroying things, I'm sure if he is so intelligent, he's reasoned out that you did him a favor.
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on March 2, 2013

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