GODSPEED FERGUS – WHEN A GARDENER LOSES THEIR BELOVED BEST FRIEND

FERGUS LOVED THE CAMERA – HE HAD THIS WAY OF LOOKING DEEP INTO THE LENS, AND YOUR SOUL. SO EXPRESSIVE, HIS IMAGE MADE IT ONTO THIS BLOG ALMOST IN EVERY POST.

We lost Fergus today to Cancer, our 13 year old Irish Terrier who was naturally, what all great dogs are to gardeners – their best friend, the closest companion and intimate secret keeper. I know it means little to anyone outside of out inner circle, but Fergus was so dear, and his loss is so painful, that I think I just need to do this – to post zillion photos of him, and write random ramblings, if only so that I can move on. Bear with me, you don’t need to read it.

We’ve owned many dogs, and each has a unique relationship with us, but Fergue was special in so many ways. Mostly, he was do dedicated and connected to each of us ( practically at the hip) as he was that sort of dog who would want to be in everything that you were doing, but it working in the garden, photographing a blog, or taking a nap. Come on, how many times have you seen images of his on this blog with his piercing, black eyes peering directly into the camera lens?

ONE OF MY FAVORITE SNOWY FERG PHOTOS. FERG WAS FEARLESS.

He was both stubborn and sweet – clearly had a mind of his own, he could be fierce and adorable – yet he loved all people. He never snapped at anyone, never growled either, he was a good boy. Then again, if you walked by our fence, you may have thought differently (which is OK in this neighborhood). His bark was mighty. You might think that if you entered the garden gate, that you would be instantly torn to shreds ( just as our gas man, the druggie down the street, or the mail man contented to believe). But Ferg was just so sweet – to all who met him, be they house guests, or visitors.

At all of our garden parties, be it for the primrose society, or the National Rock Garden Society, Ferg just comfortably fit in with the crowd as he loved people, and especially parties, because that meant lots of ladies giving him food. I remember when Josef Halda stayed with us,those two bonded (maybe because they both had beards!). He loved jumping on his bed, and even went on a hike with him that spring.
FERGIE WAS ABLE TO DO THINGS FEW DOGS EVER DO – LIKE RAISE A FAMILY WITH HIS WIFE MARGARET, AND HERE, HIS FIRST FOUR BOYS. HOW GREAT WAS THAT? HE LOOKS RATHER PROUD, DOESN’T HE?
In many ways, I could have called this post The Circle of Life, because what I forgot to tell you is that Lydia had her puppies this week ( a litter of 3, and 2 survived and are healthy – she is doing fine up in the spare bedroom in her whelping box. I think she knows that Fergie isn’t here anymore, because when she just came down to pee outside, she seemed to be looking for him, and then sat at my feet and whined a little. WHo knows, I am probably over anthropomorphizing a bit, but she must sense his absence. After all, they would sleep in bed together until the puppies came last week.
Oh God, please stop me! I’m starting to sound like one of those Facebook people who post 1000 pictures of their dog or cat who died – I’m sorry. I know this is personal, and that everyone who has a pet has gone through this, but I have promised myself that I will write just one post about this, and then move on (OK, and share 25 photos!).
FERGIE MIGHT HAVE BEEN BIG FOR AND IRISH TERRIER (40+ lbs) HE WAS NOT TOO BIG TO TAKE NAPS WITH YOU. HERE HE IS IN ONE OF HIS FAVORITE MODES – CUDDLING UP WITH ONE OF US. A RITUAL THAT HAPPENED EVERY NIGHT, NO MATTER HOW BUSY THE DAY WAS.
His death wasn’t a shock or a surprise, Fergie was blessed with a long, healthy life, he had kids, he traveled, he did fancy things, he did crazy doggy things. He won big dog shows, he killed squirrels. But even though we knew that this was coming back in early January, I think Fergie deserves a send off worthy of his presence in our garden and for all the help he provided me in assisting me with photographing for this blog, don’t you think? In many ways, you all watched him grow and be rascally – from eating all of the brussel’s sprouts and kale in the garden, to digging up potatoes and eating tomatoes off the vines.
FERG HATING BEING LEFT OUT OF ANY FAMILY ACTIVITY. LOOKED OUTDOORS, HE WOULD STAND ON THE BACK PORCH DOOR, PEERING INTO THE WINDOW WAITING TO BE INVITED BACK IN.

Fergie loved the snow too – I can just hear the doggie door flying open when he would run outside as fast as a bunny, and then run back indoors to shake off the snow, and then run outside again. Like many dogs, he enjoyed getting muddy, and although I won’t miss the gritty kitchen floors once the snow melts, I will think of him so often.

FERGUS WAS PRACTICALLY A GARDENER HIMSELF, HERE HE HIS TRANSPLANTING SOME CORYDALIS SOLIDA A FEW YEARS AGO.
FERGUS LOVED THE SUMMER HEAT (AFTER ALL, WE WAS FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!), WHILE MARGARET WAS MORE OF A WINTER DOG. I CAN’T IMAGINE SUMMER EVENINGS OUT ON THE DECK, WITHOUT HIM UNDER OUR FEET SLEEPING.
I lost my Dad this year too, but a relationship with a sweet creature like a pet, be it dog, cat or whatever, is more intimate. I don’t need to defend that fact to those who experience it, but it it often a closer and deeper attachment, and once that separation occurs ( often, or always, far too early in life), the pain is often deeper. I know that we will have other doggy relationships, but they too will be different, no matter how many times we laugh about how Daphne is acting just like Fergus, they are different.
WHEN MARGARET WAS VERY ILL BACK IN 2011, WE BOUGHT HER BABY GEESE SO THAT SHE COULD RAISE THEM – SHE RAISED MANY LITTERS OF DUCKS AND GEESE BEFORE HER LARYNX PROBLEM REQUIRED A FEEDING TUBE . FERGUS REALLY Didn’t HAVE A NURTURING BONE IN HIM, BUT HE LOVED WATCHING THEM GROW. WELL, MAYBE HE WANTED TO KILL THEM, BUT WHAT EV.
DOGS AND GARDENS EVOLVE AND CHANGE, BUT ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER IS DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE. SUMMER EVENINGS WOULD HAVE HIM LAYING OUT ON THE DECK IF WE WERE OUT THERE.
I CAN’T EVEN IMAGING TAKING PHOTOS FOR THIS BLOG, WITH OUT MY CONSTANT, CURIOUS COMPANION.
FERGIE HAD TO BE THERE HELPING, NO MATTER HOW WET, HOW COLD, OR HOT HOT.
I won’t lie, sharing these images with you is more therapy for me, than it is anything else, but I need to do it, as this loss has struck me much harder than I thought it would. I kept telling the vet this morning, that Joe is the one who she would need to worry about freaking out, not me, but once I saw Fergie’s limp body on the floor of the clinic in a fetus position, all peaceful and still, I lost it. My poor, sweet Fergie- I miss you so much.

SO EXPRESSIVE, THE BERG LOVED ATTENTION, FOOD AND ATTENTION – ESPECIALLY FROM THE LADIES. SWEET MARGARET PASSED AWAY IN 2010, WHEN SHE WAS SEVEN, I SUPPOSE WE CAN FIND SOLACE IN THAT FERGIE WAS A SENIOR – BUT IT’S STILL SO HARD.
Those of you who have followed this blog for nearly ten years know Fergus almost as well as anyone who has visited or stayed with us. He somehow found it way into most every shot, as an Irish Terrier will – but he in particular would never let me go outside to the greenhouse, or into the garden alone. Never. In fact, if he wasn’t by my side when I was outside weeding, or planting, or photographing, then I would know something was wrong.
FERGIE WAITING FOR JOE TO COME HOME ( WITH OUT LATE MARGARET).
FERGIE LOVE HIS FOOD. LIKE NO DOG I HAVE EVERY KNOWN. I DON’T THINK THAT THE HAD EVER MISSED A MEAL. HE COULD SNIFF OUT AN ENTIRE BOX OF CHOCOLATES (REMEMBER WENDI?) AND COULD EAT AN ENTIRE PINEAPPLE, SKIN AND ALL. HE ATE CORN COBS TILL HE PUKED, BOXES OF CEREAL THAT WE WOULD BRING OUT TO HIS FORT, WHICH HE BUILT UNDER A GIANT HOSTA ‘SUM AND SUBSTANCE”.
A sturdy dog, Fergie was always hungry – we would joke that he would have made the best dog food commercial, as he never was too sick to wolf down his breakfast, or dinner ( or the trash!). Even this morning, before we went to the vet for his last trip, he wanted a big breakfast and ate it with all the power he had left in his weak body.
FERGUS AND MARGARET LOVE BEING PART OF EVERYTHING ONE DOES, HERE, THEY COOLED OFF IN THE PERENNIAL BED WHILE BUILDING THE GRAVEL PATHS LEADING TO THE GREENHOUSE.
ALWAYS ATHLETIC, FERG COULD JUMP OVER A 4 FOOT DOGGIE GATE FROM A STANDING POSITION (EVEN UP TO A MONTH AGO) AND HE COULD OUTRUN MOST ANY DOG OR SQUIRREL – AS SOME OF YOU MUST REMEMBER IN THIS VIDEO THAT I HAD POSTED A FEW WINTERS AGO.
Dogs, gardeners and garden are entwined – the go together so well. I was reminded of this when I was reading a post by Grace Bonney last week that a friend of hers shared, illuminated how blogging, gardens, design and how we feel about our dear pets somehow create and define a life for some of us. Regardless, whenever one loses someone that they love – it’s sad. But when I read about Grace and her wife dreaming of weekends, just because they can spend a snowy day in front of the fire with their ‘kids’,(ok, their dogs), then I realized that we are not alone, what’s personal to us is indeed, personal, but it doesn’t make it any less real, or less painful – we all strive for those optimum experiences, and more often than not, they are the quiet, intimate ones with those whom we love and cherish.
FERG PATROLLED THE YARD FOR SQUIRRELS AND VARMINTS, RARELY CATCHING ANYTHING, BUT ONCE, HE DID CATCH A SQUIRREL IN MID AIR. HIS FAVORITE THING TO DO WAS TO SCRATCH HIS BACK IN THE BOXWOODS AND POTS OF ROSEMARY. I WILL MISS THAT SMELL.
Fergie was a bit more special to us because he took naps with you. He was a dog who structured his life around routines, he waiting at the window for me or Joe to come home, he never left your side, be it if I was in the kitchen cooking, or especially when I took a bath every night – his favorite thing, to lay next to the tub as soon as the water started running. He would then walk out of the steamy bathroom with the towel draped over him like a wrestler or a race horse, and mosey over to one of his doggie beds in the living room, and would just lie down for some time, enjoying the heat.
EVEN WHEN PLANTING PEAS, FERGUS WANTED TO PLAY
We have so many memories of Fergie. He came into our lives just after 9/11, after we got Margaret, our female Irish Terrier. Fergie traveled so much in his life, and he was so fortunate to have seen much of the country while showing, winning his major at the Great Western Terrier Show in Long Beach, and staying with his handler in Santa Barbara for the first year was tough, but he once he was home, he retired and setting in for a good ten years of mayhem and love.
FERGUS AND MARGARET AT THE W HOTEL IN NEW YORK CITY. HE LOVED SILKY SHEETS, OR ANY SHEETS AND BEDDING FOR THAT MATTER- IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE A BED WITHOUT HIM JUMPING ON IT AND THEN TWISTING AROUND IN THE PILE OF SHEETS OR COMFORTER UNTIL HE WAS STUCK.
Some of our most favorite memories include going to New York City, taking Fergus into stores where dogs where allowed like Barney’s New York where while I was buying some suits, he was allowed to lounge on the suede sofa’s (he even jumped onto a rolling display of jeans and pushed it across the floor to everyones delight). Once, while staying at the W. hotel on Lexington, he barked at the police who were across the street guarding the back door of the Waldorf Astoria because President Obama was speaking there.
FEGUS LOOKING EXCEPTIONALLY FANCY IN FRONT OF THE PLAZA HOTEL WITH HIS WAXED COTTON BURBURRY COAT ON. I KNOW, RIGHT?
Our favorite NYC experience was when I was auditioning for Martha Stewart’s Apprentice as a finalist (don’t ask!) and Ferg, Joe and I rented a row boat in Central Park, asking if a dog could go on the boat too – they said ‘sure’ and Fergie stood on the bow of the book on the very edge, enjoying every minute of the adventure.
PAPER TOWEL ROLLS NEVER HAD A CHANCE WITH FERGUS HOME ALONE
Fergie was not perfect though, far from it – he had a terrible case of separation anxiety, and could barely be left alone for an hour without tearing up the trash, rolls of paper towels or raiding the counter for cheese or bread. This fact made leaving him at the vet today, especially hard, I don’t think that we ever left him somewhere alone.
RUH ROH, A CLASSIC SHAMING IMAGE WITH AN EPISODE WITH THE TRASH
Sure we wish we had kids, but even those who sneer that kids and dogs are different, I’ve watched many add a dog to their life later on, and then come back to say “Oh, I SO know what you mean now”. Dogs are connected to you. They depend on you for most everything, yet they give so much back. Ferg was special, as all dogs are to everyone who owns one, we say things like ‘there will be no other dog like him’, and the sad thing is, that we really know that there will be no dog like him, but there will be other dogs – just not another Fergie Bergie. If only could kiss his ears one more time.
ONE OF THE LAST PHOTOS I SHARED OF FERGIE FROM THIS FALL, HE WAS STARTING TO TURN GREY.
Oh, to kiss his ears just one more time.
Bye, Fergus. I love you.
Here is kind of an obituary – I might at well at this point.
Fergus M. Mattus (Philip), 13 of Worcester, MA
Fergus Mattus Philip died today of natural causes after a short illness. A champion Irish Terrier, he is husband of the late Margaret Mattus Philip (Sumners) with which he sired four sons. He is survived by his wife of 4 years, Lydia Mattus Philip, and five children (and many grand children). A lover of good food– bacon, Brussel’s sprouts and aged gouda that cost $23 a lb. , he particularly enjoyed wrapped this old-lady peppermint candies often found in a grandfathers suit pockets and See’s Orange Creams if houseguests came to visit from Los Angeles (even though he was not allowed to eat chocolate).
He lived in Northboro Massachusetts until 2004 where he loved his grandfather Grampy Philip, and enjoyed eating apples off of the tree, roast lamb on Sundays and plenty of treats. Since 2004 he resided in Worcester Massachusetts where he shared many under table treats with his paternal grandfather, Grampa Vitty. He enjoyed barking at squirrels, barking at feral cats and barking as a sport. He loved boat rides on lakes, taking rides in his daddy’s Suburban to get chicken food and taking long naps in bed or on the sofa.
His favorite foods included lamb, steak, aged gouda cheese and Frosty Paws. He had a fetish for silky things, bed linens and pillows, particularly velvet ones. Even though he liked fancy things, he would prefer an pillow in his mouth over a squeaky toy. Later in life, he began to find thunderstorms disturbing, but tried very hard not to show it. Brave, stoic and proud, Ferg was loved by many.
Fergie now lives in heaven on a big, fluffy (hopefully silky) bed waiting for his daddies.
THIS PROFESSIONAL SHOT BY PATRICK O’CONNER WAS WHEN FERGIE WAS FEATURED ON THE COVER OF DOG FANCY MAGAZINE BACK IN 2005. BUT, I LIKE HIS HOME PHOTOS BETTER, WHICH CAPTURE HIS FERGISHNESS.

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