An adoption story about a remarkable AARCS’ dog named Clare. 💜

Written by her adopter/mom, Kailee M.

Nearly 14 years ago you took in three black lab mix puppies who were found in the middle of winter with no mom in sight. They were so young, their birthdates estimated to be new years day, and they were cold and they were so hungry they had chewed each other’s tails raw. Their names were Clare, Hiro, and Ando (after the characters in the show Heroes).

My family had been looking for another puppy to add to our home to be best friends with our 6-month old puppy Keiko, and to be the “family” dog (because Keiko was supposed to be “my” dog). My mom saw Clare on your website and we knew she was meant to join our family. She was so young when we saw her that we had to wait for her to be spayed before we could bring her home, but we made frequent stops at her foster home out in Carstairs.
When she came home with us our whole house changed. She brought such joy, and her and Keiko became inseperable. We quickly realized if either dog had to go somewhere, both dogs had to come. They loved going anywhere – including to the vets office, tails always wagging and happy to bring a smile to everyone’s face.
Even though Clare was meant to be the family dog she became MY dog. I was 12, and learning how to care for dogs that I had so badly wanted my whole life, but had never imagined how closely you could bond with one. Even my family admits that she was my dog, and while she loved everyone in the family, she really loved me. She would cuddle with everyone, but as soon as I was home she had to be near me. She would only sleep on the bed if it was my bed, and would only stay on the couch to cuddle if it was with me, even if I set her up all comfortably with another family member. As soon as I would walk away, she would join me.
She was terrified of loud noises. Thunder season was the worst for her, and she would seek me out for comfort. We would frequently go hide in the basement together and listen to calmer nature sounds until her anxiety would dampen and she would fall asleep – usually being cuddled as the little spoon. If I couldn’t go to the basement she would stick by me, somehow managing to crawl into my lap (because all big dogs are lap dogs, right?) Even if there was someone in the basement that she could hide from the thunder with – and she knew the basement was her safe space from the loud rumbles. She found me to be her safer space.
And just like I was her safe space, she was mine. Every time I was feeling down or upset or having a bad day, she was there to comfort me. If I was crying she would nuzzle up to me and lick my face. If I was angry or frustrated she would paw at me to pet her until I calmed down. If I was upset and she couldn’t get my attention she would find my mom or my brother and paw at them until they would follow her to me to help. She didn’t even need to be on the same floor of our house to be able to tell when something wasn’t right with me, she could tell from far away.
She was an incredibly empathetic dog. She was the dog who would calm situations with other dogs as well.
She was the dog who reactive dogs weren’t reactive to, who other dogs learned from. I brought home another dog, Snookie, when I was 21. Snookie had never been allowed to interact with other dogs (or even go outside because her previous owners didn’t spay her, and she was very reactive to other dogs, especially if they were getting attention from me. I knew that she would be OK around Clare though, because Clare was such the opposite. Clare was calm, and non reactive. Clare (and Keiko) taught Snookie how to be a dog. She taught Snookie the wonders of sniffing on walks, of cuddling other dogs, how to introduce herself to other dogs, and that dogs are OK. She also taught my co-workers dog, Astrid, how to play and be OK with dogs and people. Astrid was very reactive, and had no idea how to play. I told my coworker to let Clare meet her, because Clare had the perfect energy and also knew how de-escalate a situation. My coworker was nervous, but we let them meet each other in the lobby of our vet hospital in the middle of the night, and it went beautifully. Astrid was obsessed with Clare, and within moments they were playing and running around (even though Clare was 13 at this point, she could still keep up!) Clare taught Astrid how to play, and how to just exist around other dogs. She was the first dog that Astrid interacted with, the first dog she played with, the first dog she was calm with, and the dog who gave her Astrid’s owner hope and calm.
She was also smart and maternal. She loved puppies, and she loved kittens. Another coworker had adopted a kitten named Pickles, and we also introduced them at the vet hospital. Clare was obsessed, and Pickles learned how fun it was to pounce on a big dogs paws. They weren’t allowed to leave our back reception area and go to the front, and Clare made sure that if Pickles escaped, Clare would nose her back to their area. She also helped Astrid’s owner in another way. Astrid’s owner, Jenn, also owned a cat, Jax, who was terrified of dogs because the only dog he had been around chased him. He would spit and arch his back and hide. I suggested he meet Clare before meeting Astrid so he could see a calm dog and observe that not all dogs are bad. After an hour of Clare being in the house and just being calm, even when Jax was in sight, he stopped hiding and spitting and growling. He didn’t walk up to her, but he laid on the floor observing her from 5 feet away, no puffed fur or anything.
Clare was a special dog. I know everyone says that about their dogs, but she truly was. She touched everyone she met. She made a difference to many people, dogs, and cats. And I wanted to share her story and thank you for bringing her into my life.
We said goodbye to Clare in January of 2023. She was my heart dog, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. She had two cancers (bladder and thyroid) that she fought so hard, her back had become herniated, and she was tired. It was her time, and she got a party. She ate so much food, burgers and ice cream and chicken and whipped cream and cheese and chicken, and then when she was done she laid her head in my lap and started to fall asleep before the doctor came in. She passed peacefully in my arms.
Thank you for bringing me my heart dog. I will never forget her. I will miss her deeply. She lives on in my memories, with her paws on my heart, and through all the animals and people she met.
– A grieving, but thankful dog mom

Kailee Marcellus

Clare’s Mom (Adopter)

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