Darby Dog has left the yard and human friends are lost

October 1, 2021

Ring! Ring! “Fredman, is your dog lost?”

“No, he knows where he is. Dog’s don’t get lost, they just get waylaid. Let him go and he’ll track his way home, or tell me if you're looking at him and I’ll come look at him too.”

Darby gave up the ghost Tuesday morning. He is gone, and it's me and Susan who are lost. 

His last two days had not been kind. If I had the euthanizing needle, I’d have helped him along. I took no photos of Susan lying on the floor next to him in the middle of the night. She always said, ”He’s your dog, but he’ll take me if you’re not available.” 

The greatest dog had the greatest life. I wanted him to go out chasing turkeys, reaching down for closing speed, moving into the unknown doggie dimension. But Monday night during the Dallas and Eagles game, he elevated his whimpering to feeble barking. I was right there with him. I was the 6-foot guy lying on a 5-foot couch. 

“Yesterday is dead and gone, and tomorrow’s out of sight, ain’t it sad to be alone; help me make it through the night.” - Kris Kristofferson.

Postscript - The chronicle of Darby Dog’s declining skills and daily walks was never my intention, but his story awakened something good in all people who followed his saga, including family, close friends and those who barely know me. I could write a book that would make “Marley and Me” seem like high comedy. Crushingly sad things happen inside all families over time. There is often a dog who shares, who puts his head in your lap, who senses that something is off. I have stories too sad to share, that stay inside the family and some never escape my own head. But Darby knew they were there, but now he’s someplace else. He knows where he is, but I am left lost. Darby Dog died Tuesday, Sept. 28, in the early morning. I texted all the kids and grandkids before posting the above eulogy on Facebook. Twelve hundred people responded, with 800 writing personal messages. I posted about Darby all the time; he was a companion in my daily Travels with Fredman series on the Lifetime Channel. He showed us that people are good, that I’m an alright guy, that we truly are Sesame Street by the Sea. People and Pets may be a better column than People in Sports. I've been writing the blended version for the last 40 years. The late Philly sports writer Bill Lyon, a top-of-the-tree sports columnist, said of all the columns he ever wrote, the one about the passing of his little dog, 11-year-old Missy, received the most widespread reaction. I personally knew Bill. He was just the greatest guy, not surprising he was a dog guy. He wrote: “If you think a dog should be treated like a dog, then you probably shouldn't have a dog.” I’ll continue to walk out to the soybean field as the sun sinks behind the trees every day. The colors of life look different. The planets move. I am a passenger, but with no Darby in camera range, I’m just some weird old poet using Sussex slang standing with his own self. 

Wrestling with my thoughts - Indian River wrestling coach Jeff Windish talked about the upcoming season Tuesday before the Cape at Indian River field hockey game. We both agreed on the benefits of two-sport athletes, and if one of those sports is wrestling, you get a super-tough, competitive kid twice. Hoping this year offers a full schedule of matches and tournaments.

Snippets - Cami Smith has started four of seven games for the West Chester University Golden Rams field hockey team. Sept. 25 versus Slippery Rock, she scored her first collegiate goal in a 4-0 West Chester victory. Jody Boyer started at midfield for No. 1 Shippensburg, while Marlee Geppert was in goal for Queens University, as the Raiders from “The Ship” prevailed 4-2. Delaware State freshman cross country runner Albert Norman, out of Sussex Central, ran a school record 25:57 to win the Shore Cross Country Invitational, besting 41 athletes. Norman was selected MEAC Cross Country Runner of the Week. I don’t know anything about the Ryder Cup and won’t allow myself to find out. I should pay some attention to the WNBA, but it's just unlikely to happen. I hate pace setters in professional diamond league track meets. Who chases a runner you know is dropping out early? If they can’t hang, neither can you. Go on now, git! 


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