We are extremely sadden by the news that Dr. John Friedberg’s yorkie was attacked and killed by another dog in Berkeley today. John is the founder of the SF Yorkies and Friends meetup group, and he is also a recent cancer survivor (read about it at Close Call, A Doctor’s Encounter With Cancer). Buddy was the best trained yorkie we’d known, John and Buddy had such deep relationship. I found this excerpt from the book The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson:
My friend John Friedberg, a neurologist and author of the single best book ever written against electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Shock Treatment Is Not Good for Your Brain (one of the most profound reading experiences of my life), lives with Buddy, a Yorkshire terrier. Buddy is one of the most attentive dogs I have ever met. Their relationship is not dissimilar to a good marriage — that is, the perfect meeting of two fine minds, with a visibly deep bond. They spend every day and night together and what they each feel for the other is surely love. If the word has any meaning — then this is love.
We went for a walk on the Berkeley, California, marina. What struck me right away was Buddy’s acute awareness of every word John spoke to him. When he threw the ball, Buddy would race after it, and John would direct him: “Right, left, keep going, straight ahead — no, behind you!” Buddy stared at John’s face and tried, almost always successfully, to make sense of any words directed at him (he ignores the ones between me and John as gibberish). Watching Buddy, what strike me, as the core and the source of this ability he so strikingly possesses, is the relationship between these two intimate friends. Buddy wants to understand and thus has acquired the ability to do so. Of course, this relationship that I so admire may be necessary, but not sufficient, to produce such astonishing results. Benjy has a similar attachment to me, but is perplexed by the simplest verbal commands. Mind you, he is really just not that into obedience, so it could be that his cluelessness is most convenient. He has trained me, as one dog scientist told me, to not annoy him with pointless commands. How did this ability that Buddy and other dogs have evolved? Only one way: by association with us. Wolves, we know, will not search the human face for clues, even the tamest wolves. Of course, it is a two-way street. Some people would make fun of a highly accomplished neurologist who is close friend with and has a deep commitment to a 7-pound dog. Not me. John has a profound relationship with Buddy that gives both of them intense pleasure as well as intellectual rewards. John knows the inside of the mind of a different species, something most people will never experience. They are companions in every sense of the word. Buddy, mi compañero — what word could be more appropriate? What other two species on this planet can engage in a friendship of this intensity? My thirty-five-year-old daughter, Simone, a veterinary nurse, tells me she has this with her nine-year-old cat, Mr. Jazz. He follows her everywhere and prefers her company to that of any other, human or animal. But he is unreliable and might well attack her arm, should he feel so inclined. It is as if cats, no matter how attached to us they become, are forever fighting an internal battle: love, says their experience; detach, says their nature. What I saw in the walk with John convinces me yet again that among that most interesting mysteries on our planet is the seemingly everyday occurrence of one of the deepest bonds that exist between two people. It is, in part, unfathomable, and in equal part the very core of our nature and the nature of dogs.
I just made a donation to SFSPCA in memory of Buddy, I think they will send a card out to him. I found John’s address from the whois info of his domain, hopefully it will get there.