Tuesday, March 04, 2008

He was my boi...



He was my boi, or more appropriately, I was his grrl. I know this because he would never let me sleep alone, never let me sit on the couch by myself, never allow me to wash the floors or dust the bookcases without shadowing me, always making sure I was within sight or barking range. Just in case he needed a hug or I needed a cuddle.

Mr Clarke, also affectionately known as WackWack, Skew, Humper or Dougie the Pizza Boi came into our lives just over four years ago. He was a “pound puppy” - well not so much a puppy at 8 years old – a gift from Mace to me, my “own” dog – the one who would love me first – and oh he did that.

You just knew he had something going for him. Mace found him on the Sydney Dogs Home “Deathrow” website among pages and pages of other little white fluffies needing a home. He stood out though – no ordinary mugshot for him, no standard profile about being sweet or pretty or gentle. Not for Clarke. Someone had taken the time to dress him in his Superman suit for his mugshot; someone had taken the time to write a story about his superdog powers. Mr Clarke has already found his way into the heart of at least one Dog’s Home worker, charmed them into creating a special portfolio for his place on the net!

Mace travelled six hours to get him. She brought home a scraggly waif of a dog with the world’s worst haircut. For all the world he looked like a most unlikely super hero. His legs were all wrong – like someone had screwed his back legs on the front and his front legs on the back and hadn’t bothered to position them properly so that they turned our like Queen Anne legs on an antique dressing table. And he had a dicky heart housed inside a huge chest, much too big for such a small pocketful of a dog.

But he’d look up at you with deep brown eyes from underneath his overgrown eyebrows and your heart would melt. He’d dare you to cuddle him and when you did he’d moan and groan with joy, nestling into that cuddle deeper and deeper, never wanting it to stop. He’d throw himself into it the way he’d throw himself into everything life had to offer him; the way he’d throw himself at you when you walked through the door, or how at meal time he’d start up his own cheer squad, barking from the time you opened the fridge until the time his food was put in front of him. He never walked, he trotted, chest out, little Queen Anne legs flying out in front and behind him. And he loved the car; well he loved car trips to McDonald’s really. Each time the car would stop, at a traffic light or a roundabout he’d look expectantly at the driver’s side window and start barking because surely we had arrived at the drive-thru counter and he’d charm his way into a cheeseburger or a hash brown yet. That car trip from Newcastle to Brisbane was torturous! But that was Mr Clarke; life was just too damn exciting to do anything slowly or quietly.

Mr Clarke had “Dog’s Home manners” – he was as Mace called it “streetwise”. But he wasn’t really humping your leg, he was telling you to pick him up and give him a cuddle; he wasn’t barking at nothing, he was shouting out hello to the world (and sometimes there were a lot of hellos to be said even at 3.00am in the morning while sitting on the end of your bed!). There was a certain “blue singlet” working class charm to him – he could bounce all over and off Phoebe and Mintie with immunity – our regal poodle boi Mintie tolerated him - surely thinking “delinquent lower class fool”. And Phoebe, butch no-nonsense queen of the realm that she is fell for Mr Clarke’s bad boi charms from the moment she laid eyes on him.

In recent years Mr Clarke’s heart condition worsened. But even a daily cocktail of medications didn’t slow him down. He was, in the words of his vet “an old man with an eighty year old heart and a two year old’s brain that just refused to accept that life should be lived more slowly”. How else to explain a 14 year old dog with chronic heart congestion who tears a ligament is his leg after chasing that bush turkey all over the backyard! In times of over excitement Mr Clarke would faint – the only way his heart and body could tell him to slow down. But minutes later he’d be back on his feet ready to take on the world again.

Today Mr Clarke died of a broken heart. The stress of losing his aloof little mate Mintie earlier this week put added pressure on his failing huge heart. After two days in an oxygen cage, rallying and fading, rallying and fading again, I could no longer let him suffer – for a little waif of a dog who lived life with a huge heart, it seemed too much to keep asking his heart to hold on for my benefit. And the thing is that I know he would, that he would hold on for me. I hope he knows that my decision was about giving him the peace he needed and deserved.

When we first talked about getting Mr Clarke from the Dog’s Home, my initial thought was that we needed another dog like we needed a hole in the head. Today I know that my little superboi’s death leaves a gaping hole in my own heart but I hold onto my memories of him and to the knowledge that he’ll be “a-humpin and a-barkin” with Mintie in the backyard of the Goddess right about now.

Rest in peace my little Clarkie-man. Your heart was too big for this world but just right for the next.

2 March 2008

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