GTPulse: Traverse City Woman Commemorates Dog at Local Dog Park

Laura Gunter has spent the last 14 years hanging out with her pal and pooch Fred. The jack russell terrier recently passed and to honor his memory, Laura took to their favorite dog park.

We’re never ready to lose a pet, they truly become a part of our family. The mutt my mom owns is 16 years old and feisty as ever. Talented, too. He can smell a 711 taquito from at least five miles away, and back when his eyesight was a bit better, could spot a mouse or rat from at least that far too. When he and my mom got into a rollover accident a few years ago together, our family joked that it was like that scene in The Grinch when the sled went off of the hill. As the two of them flew through the air, the Grinch’s little dog caught eyes with him and waved. We always laugh because that’s my mom’s dog’s personality; happy-go-lucky and blissfully unaware of turmoil. However, I’m not blissfully unaware of his age. He’s an old dog and it’ll be hard to see him go, but as I’ve gotten older I realize that even though it’s hard to say goodbye sometimes, it’s easy to be grateful that these fun, silly, memory-making little friends were apart of our lives and we were apart of theirs.

Laura Gunter has recently said goodbye to her dog Fred. The 14-year-old jack russell terrier lived a life filled with love and spoils of all kinds.

“He just came in here and took over,” Laura laughed.

Fred was found through a Craigslist ad. A family in Manistee was desperate to get rid of him, citing his bad behavior.

“Jack Russells are kind of naughty, but they’re really adorable when they’re puppies so it can be kind of common. It’s funny I told the lady, ‘Well I don’t know if I can drive out there,’ and she goes, ‘We’ll bring him to you!’”

So the family brought him to Laura where he was dropped off. I imagine a van quickly scrambling to get away, tires squealing and kicking up dirt, and when the dirt clears, there was Fred with his mini suitcase and tail wagging at Laura’s front door.

“Jack Russell’s have a lot of little quirks. He came to me when he was a year old. I’ve always had a dog, and I had a cat and a Boxer when I got Fred. He came in and laid with the Boxer. He walked in like he owned the place.”

Perspective is a powerful thing. Fred’s larger than life personality didn’t work for the family he was with before, but Laura didn’t mind at all. He became the cruise director of her life, inspiring activity and adventures of all kinds for the two of them. Laura and loved ones in her life were just along for the ride.

Fred went everywhere with her, even to work sometimes. Laura worked as a special education assistant and a favorite treat among the students was being able to take Fred for a walk. 

“He’d go hiking and bike riding with me, people liked to stop and talk to him. Really, we would go everywhere together.”

It was just Laura and Fred when she moved to Traverse City.

“I owned my own home and wanted to be closer so, I put everything in a storage unit and I put my little dog in the car and we drove away. I rented a room and it was just me and Fred for some time in this little room and we would go to the dog park every day.”

He ran, frolicked, and instigated bigger dogs into chasing and playing. The Silver Lake Dog Park is a place that he loved and is where Laura decided to commemorate him with a bucket of tennis balls, and a sign with Fred’s photo on it that reads, ‘Please Take a Ball For Your Dog And Give Them A Extra Hug And Kiss Tonite. In Loving Memory of Fred. 2006-2020.’

“It’s a place that reminds me of the special time when it was just me and my little dog together. I just wanted a way to share his memory with the other dogs he loved to play with.”

A picture of the memorial poster and tennis ball bucket posted on Overheard in Traverse City received over 1,000 comments offering Laura support and condolences.

“So many people reached out. People who remember their dog playing with Fred, people who are just giving their sympathy. It was really nice.”

From getting lost floating down a river for two days to needing Laura to carefully pick a bunch of porcupine needles out of his fur, when Laura said that Fred ran her life, she wasn’t kidding. 

“He ran my life, and my heart. He was just a funny little guy.”

It’s funny what an impact a rambunctious little dog from a Craigslist ad had on Laura’s life. She wouldn’t have had it any other way.

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Categories: GTPulse