Freddie and Craig Giffin demonstrate one of Freddie’s tricks, a handshake. Ms. Freddie Freestuff gained her platform by posing with free stuff on the streets around the Foster-Powell neighborhood. 
Photo by Estelle Keaveny Haapala.

Ms. Freddie Freestuff is a very good girl. A chocolate labrador with speckled gray hair, watery brown eyes, and a signature red harness, she very rarely barks and never grows impatient. With the handle @pdxfreecrap on Instagram and over 5,000 followers, she has become a bit of a celebrity around the Foster-Powell neighborhood. Since 2017, she’s been posing with just about everything that can be found around the streets of Portland; from tables to computers, to toilets. As I joined her on a walk, I chatted with her owner, Craig Giffen, who says, “It started off as just a fluke. I would just be walking and I decided to have her pose next to free stuff.” 

From a few Instagram posts with the hashtag “pdxfreecrap,” Freddie’s legacy began. 

Throughout the streets of Portland, Oregon, it is not uncommon to see several boxes of free clothes and miscellaneous items, along with furniture and just about anything you can find. This activity has been referred to as “stooping,” and is common in many cities on the West Coast, as well as in New York City. 

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimates that 9 million tons of furniture are tossed each year, and 14 million tons of clothing are wasted each year. Most of these end up in landfills. Although stooping only makes a small dent in these numbers, giving people the opportunity to pass on their unused goods to people who may need them is a step in the right direction. Some argue that it causes litter on city streets, but stooping can provide a great way to upcycle items and reduce waste, and it makes for a fun treasure hunt on daily strolls. 

Ms. Freddie Freestuff not only helps to identify where to find free materials, but she also brings people together, and uplifts the community.

Nowadays, you can find her pictures on Oregon Public Broadcast and the Willamette Weekly. She has also been voted “Best Dog of Instagram” and is regularly featured at the Laurelhurst Theater. Giffen says, “I can always tell how busy [Laurelhurst Theater] is based off of how many followers she gets over the weekend.” Freddie is also frequently recognized on her walks, whether that be over at the post office, the park, or random fans yelling “hello” from their moving cars. 

But underneath everything, Freddie lives her life as a normal labrador. Most days she can be found lounging around on the couch, hanging out with some of her neighborhood friends, eating cheese, and pulling her owner around on a skateboard. 

At 11 years old, her days are filled with neighborhood love and lounging around the couch and watching as life goes by outside her window. She takes two walks a day and holds dearly to her traditions. “She comes down our stairs and in the morning she goes right, and in the afternoon she goes left. And she does not break that routine. She likes her routines,” says Giffen. 

As a puppy, she was a burst of energy, and Giffen struggled to tire her out. “At 10:30 at night, we went out on the skateboard and she would just pull me.” Thus started a tradition they continue to this day. Giffen explains how Freddie becomes upset when she sees other dogs pulling their owners on a skateboard, saying, “She’s kinda like the fun police in a way. Like, I don’t wanna have fun right now so you guys can’t, and I’m just gonna be irritable.” 

In her adulthood, Freddie has become quite the social butterfly. Whether it be her fellow canine friends around the neighborhood, or the cat next door, she’s proven to exhibit quite a lot of charisma. She even schedules walks with other dogs or people that want to meet her. “We call them internet dates,” Giffen remarks. 

Overall, this friendly labrador has found a way to bring joy to us in a time when we need it most. Even in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns, her pictures could still be found to bring a smile to your face and a sigh of relief that everything was going to be okay. Her sweet demeanor and giddy grin bring the neighborhood together in a bond of laughter and joy. Giffen states, “She just makes people happy. Every neighborhood has their own little quirky thing.”

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