Our Coach

by Tam
(Benoni, South Africa)

Fritz skiing at the lake

Fritz skiing at the lake

I got my sausage dog when I was 8 years old. I had been sick in hospital for a while and was meant to go on a very long awaited overseas waterskiing trip with my father. However due to being sick I was unable to go and my older sister took my place. As a comfort, my parents bought me my beautiful little boy. As he was a Dachshund, we thought it fitting to name him Fritz.

He provided me with more comfort and love than anything I had ever felt. I was soon better thanks to him. He loved everything I loved and we shared together a great passion of mine. Waterskiing.

From when he was only a few weeks old he rode in the boat while I skiied, and he soon learnt the ins and outs of the sport. In fact he became so accustomed to it that he began to love the boat so much he would ride in it all day long while we ran our business (waterski coaching). He learnt to count the slalom buoys, he learnt to understand when a skier was in trouble and he would bark and run to the back of the boat in excitement. In his 13 years he never made a mistake. Our customers loved him dearly and he was known as Our Coach.

For many reasons this little guy meant the world to me. Not only was he my first pet but he connected with me like nothing I had ever felt. He never left my side and sulked terribly if I dared having a training set without him in the boat. In the same way, I hated him missing out on even one of my sessions. I used to leave my ski in my bedroom and as soon as I would say "Snapper wanna go ski?" he would fly off his cosy spot on my bed, run to my ski and bark delightedly until I went. God forbid I ever tease him, and I never had the heart to. I would always go if I promised.

One of the hardest times for me came when I had to leave Fritz as we were emigrating to Australia. He was already 8 years old. His life revolved around the lake, and riding in the boat each day. We could not remove him from his great love. As we kept our business my very willing uncle became his foster father. I cried only when I had to hug and kiss my dog goodbye. I missed him terribly and made sure I went home to visit as many times a year as possible. It was a great comfort to me that he was loved and cared for and that he could continue to ride in the boat. He never ever forgot about me and that too was a major comfort.

It was two years ago I last saw him. He had aged, but he was ever so energetic and the same spunky little fella. He rode in the boat despite an ongoing heart problem that arose in his old age. I remember this as being my saddest visit as I think we both knew it was our last together.

We were once again inseperable and one afternoon after he had a particularly miserable day (he used to sulk terribly when he needed attention, limped, slept, refused to ride in the boat), we sat down by the lake. I had him wrapped in his favorite blanket on my lap and we watched the sunset together, my little dog with the heart of a lion. My father was sitting nearby, video recording the lake as a memory for us when we could no longer visit. I just remember sitting, holding my little guy and thinking how awful my life would be without him, how terribly I would miss him. I teared over. It's on video tape. Us two sitting silently together. Our last special moment. It's comforting to know it's on tape.

I heard of his passing only two days ago. He had a major heart attack. My only consolation is that he had a full and extraordinary life. He was loved by so many people. He loved dearly, he experienced life at its best and he was given all the love and support possible.

If I live a life half as full as his I'll be blessed. I am so grateful to those people that cared for him as much as I did when I was unable to. I always felt like I abandoned him by leaving, but I now realise that we did him the greatest favour leaving him to himself in a world he loved so much.

He will forever be the heartbeat at my feet and the major love of my life.

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