I knew it was a mistake.
I had things to do, after all.
I did it anyway.
The siren call of old photos is impossible to resist.
I tip a box labelled Clementine onto the dining room table. Clementine was our Golden Labrador. For a long while, she was my shadow. And here she is again, in glossy 4 x 6 format, a tumbling bundle of soft, golden fluff offset by dark, earnest eyes and teddy bear’s nose.
Oh, my darling Clementine.
Lost and gone forever.
Losing Clementine was unspeakably painful. Her death was unexpected. Cancer took Clemmie in her prime; it just wasn’t fair. What’s almost as bad is that I was blind to her symptoms. Oh, how I wish I’d understood that a change in behaviour was something to pay attention to.
Clementine tagged along beside me everywhere I went. She would be waiting at the door the moment she heard the rattle of car keys or saw a coat being put on. She liked to go with me, but more than that, she felt it was her job to be at my side. Keeping me safe – all of us safe – was her life’s purpose. She took her work seriously. She guarded me while I worked in the garden. She positioned herself at the laundry room door to fend off possible invaders. Like a trained bodyguard, she always got between me and the entrance. She was a sentry.
Anything that was coming for me would have to go through her first.
She was also just a large, plush toy animal. Kids could ride her, poke her, lie on her, dress her up – her tolerance was boundless.
Each night, Clementine did a circuit between all of our beds. Toward the end of her life, before I knew she was sick, she would stand beside my bed, her eyes fixed on the door. Normally, she would have curled up and gone to sleep, but not anymore.
She didn’t feel right. She knew something was wrong and she was watchful.
Whatever it was, she perceived it as a threat to us all. As she got sicker, her breathing became laboured and she was exhausted. I would force her to lie down on her bed in a corner of my room. She didn’t want to. She wanted to stand guard by my bed. I would take her to her bed and push her down on it. She would give it a few minutes and then return to my bedside.
And then I took her to the vet.
And then it was my turn to not leave her side.
She was gone in two months.
When you get a pet, heartbreak is part of the package. But against my better judgement, I want one. I want another dog. I want to tuck my feet up under a toasty dog while I write. I want a dog cocking his head, nodding in agreement when I expound on some theory. I want to dispense cheese and feel as though I’m dispensing doubloons. I want to surrender to 60 pounds of mutt across the foot of my bed, to hell with the bedspread. I want that unbridled four-legged joy to welcome me when I come through the door. I want the quiet companionship of a dog when the rain beats against the windows.
Here’s what I don’t want: the vacuum cleaner ever present in the foyer because, whaddya know? Dogs shed. Sticky rollers for getting dog hair off your clothes, because, whaddya know? Dogs shed. Apologizing to anyone who has the misfortune of sitting in the back seat of your car because, whaddya know? Dogs shed.
But here’s what I really don’t want.
What I really don’t want is to go through losing a dog again.
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
Be a tourist in your own town!
“Hey, I can see my house from here!!!”
Courtesy of Harbour Air, janemacdougall.com is giving away a pair of tickets for Harbour Air Vancouver Classic Panorama scenic tour, a value of approx. $300. The flight leaves from Harbour Air’s downtown Vancouver terminal and gives you a bird’s eye view over one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Check out Harbour Air’s Youtube channel.
Register for my newsletter and your name automatically goes in the hat for the draw. And about that draw; winners are generated by a computer-driven, randomized draw. The draw will take place later in September and the tickets are good for one year.
This week’s question for readers:
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LOSING A PET? WOULD YOU GET ANOTHER PET?
Responses to last week’s question:
ANY STAYCATION VICTORIES TO SHARE? WHAT ABOUT NEW, LOCAL GEMS DISCOVERED COURTESY OF THE PANDEMIC?
One of our local “Payne Train” anti-Covid outings was to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park this summer. The “train” variably consists of adults and young children aged one to13. It’s an excellent base camp for family hike’s, swimming and kayaking all with easy access. Several campsites are clean and have convenient facilities. Our activities included a 60-minute kid friendly hike out and back on a portion of the Trans Canada Trail right from the campground. The trail follows the Chilliwack River from the mouth and offers several viewpoints where salmon are spawning. The lake water is clean and cool for swimming and calm enough for simple kayaking/inflatable use. At the river mouth, it’s possible to safely wade in the shallows and do some rockhounding for unique collectibles such as rock crystals and agates. The area offers a non-wifi, easily accessible opportunity to play closer to true nature.John Payne
I live a life of staycation, so to speak, because I live in Hopkins Landing on the Sunshine Coast. This is perhaps the best place on earth to live because we have our own water supply leaving us able to sustain our veggie gardens through the hot dry summer. We have the most outstanding view of the ocean, islands and mountains with ferries to-ing and fro-ing throughout the day, and access to the best beach on the coast for swimming and strolling. However, I had the occasion the other day to collect a couple of other adults and a few kids and off we went from the government dock in nearby Gibsons for a magical day of a tiny boat ride to the Keats Camp landing dock, had a 2 km forest walk to Plumpers Cove marine campsite where we enjoyed a picnic, sat on the beach bathed in sunshine and dipped into the sea for a refreshing swim. The little foot ferry came to pick us up and we laughed and traded puns all the way back to Gibsons. Despite living in a similar situation in Hopkins the trip to Keats was like travelling to a foreign land or other planet during these pandemic times. What a treat!Mary Findlay
We decided to check out all the places we usually just drive by. When was the last time you were up to the top of SFU? How many times have you wondered about the little community of Sea Island as you came and went from YVR? Turn right on the road you usually turn left on; the pandemic is our chance to take the path not taken.L. Anderson
With the city so quiet I have relished visiting local art galleries and museums. What a joy to have exhibition spaces practically to myself while supporting institutions which are struggling immensely amid budget cuts and layoffs. While visiting blockbuster shows are raking it in with sold out crowds, I have quietly been appreciating local gems such as the Museum of Anthropology, Polygon Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Audain Art Museum at Whistler. I encourage everyone to support local galleries and enjoy these wonderful spaces.Jeanette Johnstone
We had not travelled at all during Covid 19 but on July 22 of this year we decided to go to Centennial Beach. We set off from our home in Mission armed with directions, a picnic lunch, lawn chairs, sun hats and sunscreen. My husband does not like city traffic so he always has a plan to get around it. We travelled the back roads around Abbotsford heading west, finally reaching Zero Avenue, although he was not sure it was Zero Avenue. “We’re heading west, he said, we’ll end up somewhere on the coast.” Finally, we reached White Rock, then Crescent Beach. After stopping for directions and driving more kilometres around Boundary Bay, we found Centennial Beach. It only took three hours – this time!Bonnie Hamilton