13 Lessons Learned from My Pursuit of Fred: A Story with a Happy Ending

by Tobi Schwartz-Cassell

This article originally appeared in the January-February 2013 issue of Girlfriendz Magazine—the magazine I founded and published for seven years. This story is true, and it has a happy ending. I updated the info a bit, and it still has a happy ending. 🙂


This is Fred
This is Fred

Did you follow his saga on the Girlfriendz Magazine Facebook page? If you didn’t, here it is in a nutshell: The Cassell family adopted a 3-year old Beagle/Foxhound in October 2012. We named him Fred…he ran away…we found him…he underwent emergency surgery that night…and all that took place in just three days.

Fred is a dog who is easily frightened. So much so that it led those gentle souls at Lindenwold’s Animal Adoption Center to conclude that he’d probably never lived inside a house, or experienced the love of an owner, or even had a name.

I wouldn’t doubt their assessment. The evening we brought him home, he was afraid to walk through our front door.

A few nights after we adopted him, we took him out for a ride in the c-a-r to purchase a brand new collar on which to hang his shiny new tags.

Fred’s sister, Jazz (who, at the time was 12, but sadly passed away the next year) was a Shepherd/Pit Bull mix who was perfectly comfortable visiting the big pet care store in Marlton. She knew it was the place where she could sniff the other dogs’ butts, down some snacks and choose a new toy. But that’s not how Fred experienced it.

Terrified by the automatic doors, he never made it into the store. He did a 180, darted straight through the busy parking lot, miraculously dodged cars as he fled across Route 70, and then dropped out of sight—Jazz’s borrowed harness and leash whipping behind him.

Three anguish-filled days later, we found him. He’d been hurt so badly that he needed immediate emergency surgery, antibiotics and painkillers, (and whoever came up with that Elizabethan collar?). But he made it home again and that’s all that matters.

Life is full of lessons and here’s what I learned during My Pursuit of Fred:

LESSON 1: Dumpsters play a huge role in the search for a lost dog. I crept behind many restaurants, hoping I’d find my hungry pup. I didn’t, but…

LESSON 2: The best place to hang Lost Dog posters in a townhome community is the dumpsters. Because, according to my friend Hope, “Everyone has to visit them at least once a week.”

LESSON 3: A girl from suburbia (me) can hunt through the thickest woods—several times!—and live to tell the tale.

LESSON 4: Once a mystery is solved, mystery still remains. Fred left us wearing Jazz’s harness and leash, and came back wearing neither.

LESSON 5: Microchipping your pet is not an option. Do it and do it NOW.

LESSON 6: Even non-dog people respond to a lost dog.

LESSON 7: Emergency vet services are expensive but worth every penny.

LESSON 8: Your family and friends aren’t the only ones who care about you. Your acquaintances and strangers do, too.

LESSON 9: Facebook is the bomb. Literally. Fred made it all the way around the world. Figuratively. His story went viral throughout the U.S., all the way to Australia, with a combined 600+ shares. This led my friend Pam to suggest, “Maybe Fred needs his own Facebook page.”

LESSON 10: Prayer does work.

LESSON 11: Miracles do happen.

LESSON 12: Bad things happen to good people.

LESSON 13: Sometimes, good things happen to them, too.

I could go on and on telling stories about family and friends who trolled local neighborhoods (some at the crack of dawn, others well past midnight)…friends and acquaintances who hung flyers…businesses that allowed us to post flyers…previously unknown people who did car searches and Facebook shares and gave us unending support, hope, guidance and strength. But the best story of all is this: all of their efforts culminated in one phone call that changed everything. It was from the microchip company with information from one anonymous woman who led us to Fred.

There is no way I could possibly thank her sufficiently, nor every single person who came through for us. I can, however, thank the Animal Adoption Center of Lindenwold, the Animal Welfare Association of Voorhees and all the other animal shelters who helped us get the word out. It’s important to know that private shelters receive no government money, and run solely on private funding. The public ones run on too little funding even though much more is needed. In all cases, their Number 1 priority is to eradicate the suffering of all animals.

And though My Pursuit of Fred was a personal one, eliminating the pain and anguish of homeless, abused and neglected animals is one of the most admirable pursuits I can think of.

Cantor Scott and one of his furry friends
Cantor Scott and one of his furry friends

That’s why I am running a fundraiser for a local non-profit 501c3 called Cantor Scott’s Animal Rescue Center (ARC). Started from a single bag of cat food with money from his own pocket, Cantor Scott Borsky runs a 24/7 virtual shelter, serving over 90 feral cats in cat colonies every day. Not only does it aid in stemming each cats’ suffering, it also keeps neighborhoods healthy and safe because every one of his cats are neutered and vaccinated.

Cantor Scott also keeps animal shelters’ shelves stocked with pet food, and he does this for human food pantries as well, helping families in need keep their beloved pets. Cantor Scott, along with his beautiful family and volunteers, does all of this and so much more. But to do this, they need a continuing infusion of donations. Says Cantor Scott, “My shelter is growing each day with supporters, funds and blessings!!!”

Please help me help Cantor Scott Borsky. Click here to donate, and/or you can join us on Monday, May 23 for a night of fun at Illiano’s in Medford! Chef Gennaro Illiano is doing a Cooking Class for us! We’ll enjoy a 5-course dinner, and all net proceeds benefit the ARC.

I hope to see you there!




PS: Question: Have you learned any lessons from your pet? Please comment below!

PPS: As many of you know, I’m working out at the Cherry Hill Health and Racquet Club. I am now in a 21-day study called “Effects of Exercise.” The purpose of the study is to help non-exercisers experience and continue a healthy exercise program. Of those who’ve participated in past studies, an average of 80% finished the study and continue to exercise regularly.

Some nice benefits are included. Besides your FREE 21-day membership with certified trainers guiding you, there are other nifty perks like a FREE healthy shake from the Club Café.

Join me! A new study has just been added and begins on May 9, so there’s still time if you’re interested! Contact Sarah Martin at smartin@chhrc.com or 856.429.1388, ext 135, and tell her Tobi sent you.