This is a post that I knew I’d end up writing one day, as much as I never, ever wanted to.
Writing it now breaks my heart, but I want to write down all the things I loved most about Clar, the things I’m most grateful for, and even those that drove me truly insane. Sorry in advance for the length, but there’s a lot to say after 10 years.
Clar literally climbed into my lap. We went to an adoption day at Petco, absolutely committed and convinced that we WOULD NOT be adopting a dog that day. And then we found Clar, and all bets were off.
Who adopts a dog with someone they’re not even living with? That’s how persuasive Clar was that day at Petco.
The day we actually picked him up, we watched him chase a cat around his foster home. He HATED cats. Which is funny, because he loved everything else so much. Other animals, people, kids (and food goes without saying). But cats? Yeah, not so much. Which worked to our benefit, because if he’d liked cats, the foster family probably would have kept him.
We were suckers from the start. No rules about not jumping on the furniture, no crate training, no prohibition on human food (though we stopped short of actually cooking him food, and I wouldn’t let him lick our plates. Ewww.). But Clar was such a sweet guy, that we couldn’t say no. He just wanted to be cuddled, and as we came to find out over the years, he had good reason to want a cushy life on the couch surrounded by an endless supply of Frosty Paws. He had scars from hunting, and this past January, we found out that he had DOZENS of BBs in his chest. Some hunter hadn’t just accidentally hit him out in the field. He shot him, and we think now, probably left him for dead. Clar was a fighter, and he was happy to retire to one of his four beds (not including the couch, the chair, the ottoman, the futon, or our bed).
I don’t remember how the munchkin habit started. Maybe we gave him a piece of a donut one day and it spiraled from there? Regardless, Clar was soon getting a jelly munchkin every Sunday. The staff at the Dunkin Donuts knew who was coming when they heard the order for just a single jelly munchkin (or more likely, two). He’d jump up from his spot in the backseat of the car to put his paws up on the arm rest, looking for his munchkin fix.
He knew Dunkin Donuts anywhere. Including across the street from someone carrying a cup of Dunkies coffee. He stopped walking and stared at the guy. Who, sadly, did not have any munchkins to offer.
Of course, munchkins weren’t all that Clar liked to eat. Among the things that he also got into: a whole tin of peanuts, which was on the dining room table, and closed (you do the math). A bag of flour and a container of pine nuts, eaten while staying at Bridget and Jason’s for the weekend. A box of Charleston Chews, which he stole from my Easter basket while we were at a movie (and then proceeded to run circles around the dining room table for the rest of the day to burn off the sugar). Christmas cookies, pulled from a sideboard when we were an hour away. And on the day I arrived home with a bottle of champagne, ready to celebrate the end of a round of cancer treatment, almost a whole dark chocolate candy bar and an assortment of good quality chocolate truffles. Champagne went into the fridge, and Clar and I went to the vet.
In the long ago days, Clar had speed, too. Those who knew Clar recently would be surprised to read this – I mean, we had to lure him down the stairs with treats to get him to go out when it was even sprinkling – but when we first got him, B asked what I thought was a rhetorical question. “Think he’d run if I dropped the leash?” Before the words – “um, yeah” – were even out of my mouth, off he went, and we went running after him, down a hill and for probably a third of a mile.
That was the last time we dropped the leash, but not the last time Clar managed to get away. Nothing like having to dig through someone else’s trash to find a discarded piece of pizza to lure him back with.
In the last year, Clar was clearly starting to slow down, hampered by bad sight and a bad back. But I think he really liked that our family was growing, and he was protective of me when I was pregnant – to the extent that he’d even sit outside the bathroom in the morning. He wouldn’t come all the way in, what with the danger of getting splashed by water and all, but he kept a close eye on me from 3 feet away. And once we put Teddy’s crib up, he could always find a reason to hang out in that room. B brought one of Teddy’s receiving blankets home from the hospital so Clar could get used to the baby smell, and when we got home, he was using it as a pillow.
I’m so glad that we got pictures of Clar and Teddy together. And I’m so sorry that Clar won’t be there to catch the food when Teddy drops it from his high chair, or to play fetch once Teddy can toss a ball.
We’re getting ready to move, and we’ve slowly been emptying out the condo. We have so much stuff, though, that no matter how many trips we’ve made to the new house, the condo has always still felt full when we returned.
Until Friday night. It’s amazing how the absence of a 25-pound dog can make a house feel so much emptier.
I’ve been through this before, when Sandy died. I know that one day, I won’t instinctively check to make sure his water bowl is full, or look at the clock at 5 p.m. and know that I need to feed him, or put up our rigged system of yoga mats and assorted other objects to make sure he wouldn’t try to climb the spiral staircase.
But for right now, all those things are still fresh in my mind, and they’re reminders of how much I miss my friend.