RIP, Frito.

Dear friends,

Frito, on a cold winter day staying warm by the fire with his pals Ed and SweetPea

I lost my canine friend Frito yesterday. He was a sweet soul who had been with me for nine years, the Chihuahua who didn’t know he was a Chihuahua because he lived outside and loved to romp and roam with our Golden Retriever, Ed.

I picked him out of a large litter of Chihuahua puppies on my 40th birthday. I wanted a long-haired dog, but chose him instead for his quiet and polite disposition and distinctly un-Chihuahua-like behavior.  Parker, who was seven at the time, named him. Frito never yipped or nipped, rarely barked, and was as congenial a dog as I ever met. As Mr. Mom said when we buried him in a shady spot on our acreage not far from our back door, “Here lies Frito — beloved family pet and friend to all.”

Frito and Ed going fishing with the boys earlier this month

We know what happened and yet we don’t know what happened. I was leaving my office mid-afternoon to drive to a nearby meeting when my neighbor pulled up and flagged me down. She looked shaken and said she was sorry to tell me she had found Frito dead in her backyard. She had gone home to let her dogs out when she spotted him from her back door. She had tried to reach Mr. Mom but couldn’t, so she came to my office. To make matters worse, the poor dear works for me, so she had to tell her neighbor and her boss that my pet had died. At her house.

I left the office immediately and tracked down Mr. Mom and we walked to our neighbor’s house — me in my business suit and heels, where we found our little friend lying on his side in the middle of her fenced back yard. Mr. Mom took one look and knew immediately. Frito had been shot. Twice, at close range with a large-caliber gun.

We don’t know who would do such a thing and, since we don’t think the shooter did it in the middle of our neighbor’s back yard, we believe Frito was dumped after he was shot. Why our neighbor’s yard? We don’t know.

Frito had long been a wandering soul. We managed to mostly keep him corralled in our old home, except during thunderstorms. But in our new place, we simply couldn’t keep him fenced (even though we have a pasture with an electric fence installed by the former owner who raised goats). We worried at first about our little escape artist, but our neighbors seemed to have grown fond of him. We know many of them fed him and welcomed him into their homes and yards because they told us. It’s hard to imagine there’s a neighbor that disliked Frito so much he would empty two bullets into the very small and very happy dog that made friends with everybody. The thought of it makes us all sick and, of course, worried for all our other pets.

At first, Mr. Mom thought it might have happened at night. But I know he was shot in broad daylight — some time between when I left for work and 2 p.m. because I fed Frito breakfast on the deck early yesterday morning. I found some leftover Kitchen Sink Soup while pulling my own breakfast out of the fridge and I knew Frito would love it. Even though it is Parker’s morning chore to feed our dogs, I decided to surprise Frito with a rare treat. And he got to enjoy most of it alone before Ed caught a whiff and showed up and took over.

By the time I left for work, Frito and Ed were frolicking in a yard several doors down. Yesterday was a beautiful spring day — sunny and 62 degrees. At least I have the comfort of knowing Frito had a tasty breakfast and a beautiful day on his last. I will miss my sweet and happy friend, as will all of us in our home, especially Ed, who was Frito’s bunk-mate and heating blanket in their shared doghouse.

With gratitude {for my faithful companion, running buddy, and best birthday gift ever},

Joan, who believes the person who did this brutal thing must be a tortured soul and hopes he somehow finds peace and light in this world

Frito and Kate, when they were both much younger