Wednesday, February 24, 2010

She will never be forgotten.

I would be amiss if I did not pay tribute to Clara. She will always be in my heart, in our hearts. She is why I came to love the Great Pyrenees.

She passed away at 2:20 p.m. on November 27, 2008. She was loved for thirteen years and gave us wonderful companionship.

My sister, Sandra, found her in Vankleek Hill at a breeder, Ariege Kennels. Sandra wanted a guard dog but a dog to which her husband, Steve, and her children, would not be allergic. She also wanted a gentle dog. Sharon Gillam and Pat Tomischen needed to find a home for the girl they were going to breed for a couple of litters. They had both become ill with cancer. This is how Clara ended up as a five month old puppy living with Sandra.

I was in Germany when she brought her home and didn't meet her until Christmas of of 1996. I recall walking into the backyard and there she was in her run. She didn't move a muscle. I approached the run but still no response. I left. I knew nothing about this breed. I would wait until Sandra was there to introduce us.

I then started walking Clara every day almost, all over the city at different bush locations. She had a penchant for groundhogs. She killed ten when she was ten years old and the last two unlucky ones were in the spring of 2007 at 11 years old.

As with any dog, she has many stories that can be told, many of which we will never know. The big one was when Sandra and her family went away and the neighbour and fireman, David, was to feed her and let her out. Well, Clarabear wandered away one day so out came the fire engines in search of her. Door-to-door searches. Everyone in a the neighbourhood, far and wide, came to know her. A day didn't go by for years afterwards while I was walking her, that acquaintances and strangers would approach and say 'Isn't this Clara?'.

Many times, as Pyrs do, she would disaPyr. Inevitably, she would be found, fortunately, always in good hands.

She came everywhere with me, with us. She was always in the car except on the hot days. Where I knew I could bring her into a building with me, I would. One day, I had to stop at the lawyer's office and it was a scorcher. I brought her into the elevator and up to the office. I walked down the hall, past many gawking staff and into Peter's office. I sat down, Clara lay down and stayed that way until the meeting was over. Peter was somewhat stunned by this and couldn't believe how well-behaved she was.

Like most dogs, she managed to get herself into some sort of trouble whether it be self-inflicted or from whims of nature.

There was the time we went walking in the Hazeldean bush. Having smelled out something good, she rolled in what turned out to be a dead porcupine. I didn't think much of it when I pulled a couple of quills out of her in the parking lot. In the next day or so, Sandra called to tell me Clara was having trouble breathing and she was taking her to the vet. I went with her. Turns out she had a pneumothorax. They asked me all sort of questions including, had she been hit by a car. I couldn't think of a thing I was so worried. They did blood testing but nothing turned up. They wanted to do exploratory surgery but Sandra, thankfully, wouldn't have it. We took her home and there she slowly recovered but it took a few months. And, then I remembered the porcupine.

She was hit by what the vet thinks was equine flu. Don had to carry her up and down the stairs for awhile and she didn't have the strength to walk around the block. Now and again, her eyes would roll into the back of her head. It was very, very worriesome but she pulled out of it. In that time, Dr. Murray did an xray to see if he could see anything. He was concerned about some scar tissue stuff in the xray. I mentioned the porcupine quills and the light went on. He thinks the quill remained there and the tissue grew around it. He mentioned what a beautiful build she had and exemplary rib cage for dog.

As dogs are garbage hounds and Clara was not excluded even if she was my perfect Pyr, she ate everything including human feces. On one of our walks, she disaPyred into the bush and came out with some bad breath. Yes. Feces. We went home. I took her out for her evening walk and on returning, she started weaving back and forth. I quickly got her into the house and she jumped onto my bed. She lay there, her head rolling back onto her neck and eyes rolling back in her head. She didn't want me near her. I slept in the other room but I could still watch her. By morning, she seemed okay. My guess is that the feces had some kind of drug in it that the human had taken. My poor girl.

In January of 2008, Clara jumped out of the car when she shouldn't have been and we weren't paying attention. She was very arthritic. As a result, she tore her ACL. It would take a few months before I could get her in for surgery. I couldn't wait that long. There was a possibility she would tear her other one from the stress it would take. Dr. Murray made space for her within a week or two only because the Rimadyl he had put her on for the pain had worked for her or so I thought. Surgery was successful. I think it took about three months and then I started rehab with her. The most successful was taking her for to a therapeutic pool. After one session, she was back to normal. During her recovery, I was very worried that she was in pain, and that she didn't want to be here anymore. The practice manager at the vet's assured me that Clara was fine and I would know if there was a problem and Clara would let me know when it was time. I should stop worrying and just enjoy the time with her. Thanks to Tracy, I stopped worrying so much and enjoyed my girl.

I do know that I should have let Clara go at least a week sooner than I did. It was cold and on our short outings, she wanted to go under the neighbours' trees and I knew she wanted to just lie down and be free of pain. I had to prepare Don for something he wasn't prepared to face. I think we have both learned and won't wait so long next time.