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Cliff Goes North

So this morning, I am stuck on my laptop, electricians poking holes into my walls, and I thought what better time then to finally tell the ‘Clifford Goes North’ story as per the many requests for more Clifford :) So let’s start with the preface that my dog has had an interesting life. Not like that cat who went from California to Guelph for 4 years, but he’s had A LOT of shit happen to him, or rather, he’s done a lot of shit to others. Hence the nickname Shit Pump. It fits.

A few things come to mind, but man, 12 years is a long time to be a Shit Pump and he’s managed to pack a lot in. Like the time he leaped on a woman in High Park, wearing a full length white wool coat, with mucky feet, or when he ate my leather shag rug and shit it all over Toronto. Or when I tried to cut his nails, hit the quick which caused a panic, and he ran through our entire condo, bleeding like he lost a limb, all over my beige carpet, white couch and new duvet until I finally caught him.

Or when he ate my hard wood floor and baseboards. Or maybe the time he tried to jump through a chain link fence and got stuck. Or when he ran through a burr bush, gathering so many thistles on his face that his eyes were sealed shut from his hair.

Or maybe the time he fell through the ice at Earl Rowe, which I obviously was equally as stupid, leaving Finn in a baby carriage and launching full boar towards the half frozen lake to rescue him…like I said, my life has been utterly un-boring since he came into my life. But I’m getting sidetracked. Let’s jump back to about 10 years ago…

So this one particular summer weekend, we had to go north for my friends wedding in Bracebridge. We, as amazing dog owners are, scoped out dog kennels and found a great spot on the east end to leave our dog. I dropped him off on a Friday and we headed out. A great weekend party plus we packed in buying our current house in Alliston. We had a lot to celebrate, so Sunday was rough.

At the kennel pick up, it was a little odd. I mean, he had on Clifford’s collar, but his hair was all short. He ran to us and it appeared to be our dog but doodles have a weird thing about all looking like twins and let’s preface again that both Troy and I were VERY hungover. But they passed us a dog and we took it. The entire way home, I kept looking back at him in confusion as our conversation went like this:

Why did they cut his hair? Why didn’t they tell us?

Maybe he got really dirty and had to shave him down?

Can we stop at Mc Dicks, I’m dying for grease.

Why didn’t Clifford jump in the car himself?

Maybe he’s tired?

Maybe he got hurt?

I need a nap.

Ok so when we get home, let’s let him lead and see if he knows his way into the condo. Yes! That will explain it all…

Again, let me say, we were both VERY HUNGOVER.

So we took the dog out of the car, and proceeded to our condo, which he completely went right to. So obviously we were like, oh of corse it’s Clifford. Let’s go nap.

But then this dog came with us upstairs and jumped on our bed.

Clifford never ever jumped on our bed.

Again, VERY HUNGOVER.

So we went to sleep, brains not functioning, but all through the night this dog (who still lay on our bed) stared at me. I recall waking and telling the dog to stop being a creepy stalker but it was weird.

The next morning we felt better, and were way more equipped to deal with the situation, so cue the tests. Could this dog perform all of Cliffords’ tricks? He fucking did. Then we took him for a walk and still, he KNEW WHERE WE LIVED. But the uncertainly remained so we called the kennel. The conversation went something like this:

So Clifford is acting sorta weird….

Right, so why did you cut his hair?….

Ok well, this dog’s hair is short…

Um, ok, I’ll try that….

BEAR!

(Dog named Bear, jumps up and runs over to Troy on the phone)

Oh shit.

So the next few minutes panic ensued. Where was Clifford? Is he ok? We are the WORST DOG OWNERS IN HISTORY.

Troy hung up and I freaked out. Poor Bear was like finally someone has figured out that I DON’T LIVE HERE.

Phone rings up a little while later from the Kennel. The conversation went something like this:

Oh thank god, you found Clifford…

Why did someone switch his collar with another dog?…

Oh, the other owner didn’t realize it wasn’t her dog either?

She’s up north?

She picked up Clifford right after I dropped him off on Friday…

So we were, in fact, driving up the 400 in our car while our dog was in another car behind us going up the same highway to Bracebridge too?

So he’s been at a cottage all weekend running off leash, swimming, and living the life at her swanky spot?

She’s not bringing him back until the next day?

Right ok.

Needless to say, this woman didn’t know the difference either, but to give us a little cred, our excuse was the hair…Bear was shaved down so it’s plausible that it still was our dog but cut by the kennel. She never once questioned that her ‘new’ dog had a big shaggy coat after just a few days.

We laughed, we exchanged dogs, she told us that Clifford never went outside the property line, that he enjoyed all the holistic treats and meds she gave him, that he swam and had the best weekend ever. I mean, he seemed happy to be home with us but I could tell he was a little annoyed to come back to city living.

Clifford turning 12 last week has had us reflecting on all his adventures and all the shit we’ve gone through with him (or put him through…cue prop photo shoots). We know his time is short, his limps are tough to watch, his attempts at getting up are harder, and his days are spent mostly sleeping, but he will always be the first ‘kid’, my co-worker for the last 12 years and my very best friend :)

(The best part of this story is the kennel not once saying they were sorry or refunding our money even though our dog only ‘technically’ stayed there for an hour.)


Clifford and Photoshop are my favourite pairings…


Always the good sport…I mean, you have to be to live with Wren.


My morning reminder that he wants a walk…cue the sock bandit.

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