Clifford has passed away. Two weeks ago he had a stroke. For a week, it looked like he was going to make a full recovery. But it was not to be. The second week he steadily lost ground, until it was plain to all that there would be no happy ending. Our vet helped us to do the kind but so hard thing.
It's impossible to tell you Clifford's tale without talking about my mother, for he was her dog first. My parents retired to western North Carolina so my father could hike and explore the Smoky Mountains. Salamanders, frogs and turtles were his passion as horses are mine. The downside of the area was the profusion of starving, abandoned dogs. Clifford was the last in a long line of dogs my mother rescued. She would catch a glimpse of him in the woods, and she began to leave food out for him. But she could not get near him. One winter day when he was soaking wet and covered with snow, she was able to touch him. I was able to get him into her house on my next visit. We took him to the local vet and found that he was riddled with heartworms. He almost died from the treatment to get rid of them. By then he was my mother's dog, and she loved him. But she was in her eighties, and she had cancer.
Mom, David and I decided that Clifford would come to Colorado and live with us. At that time, we were living in suburbia and boarding our horses. Clifford made the transition from woods dog to city dog, no problem. He enjoyed walks and toys and hikes and dog parks and sleeping on his own bed indoors and treats and and and. But I think moving to the ranch was the best part of his life. He had it all - walks and toys and hikes and his own bed next to ours and treats and horses and coyotes and ground squirrels and girlfriends and the great open spaces.
The last thing I want to say is that I know there are a lot of wonderful dogs out there, but Clifford really was the best dog in the world. God bless you, gentle Cliffie. Tell my mother that I love her and I miss her.