Gogglebox celebrity Chris Butland-Steed has shared the devastating news that their beloved dog Fred has passed away. Writing in his own words, with husband Tony, the TV star has opened up about his heartbreak and paid a loving tribute to his dear canine friend, who was an integral part of their famous on-screen family. Writing from the heart, Chris has opened up about how hard it was to make the decision that Freddie's suffering had reached the stage that it was the kindest thing to let him go. Read Chris and Tony's emotional message below.
Freddie with his pals Rusty and Buddy (nickfordphotography.co.uk)
At 11.30 this morning, we had to say an agonising goodbye to our dear old Freddie. At 13 and a half, he was already well beyond the usual top age of 11 or 12 for a bassethound, so we were very lucky to have him for as long as we did. He was the most adorable, loving, cuddley dog, who always brought a smile to your face, and could lift your spirits even in the darkest of moments.
My husband Tony had him from a pup and is totally devastated. Fred was such a character - in his younger days he was a mischievous little scamp who loved to play tug-of-war with his toys as well go through all the waste bins in the house and empty the contents far and wide! They say that dogs are like their masters and Freddie and Tony had the same walk, and I’ll miss seeing them waddling up the road together. He had the most beautiful big brown eyes, and he knew all too well that they were his secret weapon. One look from those big doleful eyes and he would often break you down and make you give in to his charms.
Tony with his beloved dog
Like any bassethound he was as stubborn as a mule, and he loved to bark. Boy, he loved to bark! But the best thing about him was the love and the big cuddles he gave you. He totally loved our mini daschunds, Rusty and Buddy, and even up to his last day, he would try to have a little play with them. They absolutely adored their Great Uncle Fred, and would often be found washing his face, cleaning out his ears, but more often than not, the three of them would just be snuggled up in their bed together.
He only made it onto Gogglebox just the once, and he didn’t go unnoticed either! But what people won’t know is that for most of the 10 series' I did, Fred would be in his bed, curled up at my feet, gently snoozing whilst the show was recorded. The decision was taken a couple of days ago in consultation with our vet, which meant we could give him a good send-off, spoil him rotten, as well as have the chance to say a proper goodbye to him.
But nothing can prepare you for this, even though you know it’s coming one day. The agony isn’t just about saying goodbye, it’s about asking yourself if it’s the right thing to do. He had various ailments including arthritis and spondylitis of the spine, that were starting to rob him of quality of life. He couldn’t walk very far, and his back legs would give way regularly as he struggled to support his body weight, even though we’d always kept him really trim and been careful with his diet, as the breed is prone to putting on weight.
Tony and Fred the bassethound (nickfordphotography.co.uk)
Tony would have to carry him up and over steps and give him a helping hand when he needed it. And he’d always let you know when he couldn’t manage it, with a sad look from those big brown eyes of his. Over the last couple of days, we’d wrestled hard over whether or not it was the right time, or was it still too soon? We always said we’d do the right thing before things got too bad, as we didn’t want him to spend his last days in pain, and ultimately it was this that convinced us it was indeed the right time.
He’d started to deteriorate over the previous ten days, and he was just beginning to become a little incontinent. He was on anti-inflammatories and very good pain killers and although his spirit (and his bark!) were still strong, you can never really know if your dog is in pain, or to what extent, as they’re not normally very good at communicating it. Our vet said he was as sure as he could be that he wasn’t feeling the pain, but his joints were very obviously stiff, and the quality of life was definitely slowly slipping away.
It still made the decision incredibly difficult. You doubt yourself constantly. Is it the right time? Or is it too soon? Would delaying it be the best thing, or is that just selfishness talking? You try and be objective, but when you’re dealing with the decision to end your beloved dog’s life it’s hard to know if you can truly trust your own decision-making ability, because all the love, the emotion, and the immense sadness work together to cloud your judgement. But ultimately, you know your responsibility is to do the very best thing for your dog, at all times, throughout their entire life, but especially at the end.
The couple say the loss of their dog has left a huge hole in their lives
Even though we’ve still got Rusty and Buddy, Freddie has left a huge hole that will never be filled. No matter how hard you imagine the letting go will be, in truth, when you’re there, at the vets, and it’s happening, it’s traumatising, and is so much more difficult than you can bear. We’d always been careful with Fred’s food, always strictly sticking to good quality dog food and treats, and always avoiding giving him human food, partly to control his weight but partly to help stop him from being a scavenger or begging for food when we were eating. And he was pretty good at this. So, over his last couple of days we spoiled him rotten!
He had a whole pack of grilled sausages for breakfast yesterday, followed by a big slab of toffee and caramel cake with a jug of custard for lunch, and for dinner he had a huge bowl of finest steak in a tasty gravy. He absolutely loved it, and didn’t leave a scrap behind! We just wanted to give him lots of treats, and loads of love. He’s had a steady stream of visitors over the last 48 hours as family and friends have come to say their tearful goodbyes to him.
Tony has taken him out to some of his favourite places, and this morning took him for his last meal - a full English breakfast down at a little cafe on the seafront! One of the last things we did with him was to take print of his paw. I’d made a little frame and filled it with white cement, and placed one of his big paws in it. One of our best friends suggested this as a nice way to remember him, and as something we could take with us wherever we live. Lovely idea. We’ll never forget our Fred, he was an amazing dog and a huge part of our lives. The pain is very raw at the moment, and we know that this will ease off over time, but for the rest of our days, not a day will pass without thinking of him, and remembering him. He’s crossed the rainbow and is at peace now.