A tribute to Clyde

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Fourteen years. Longer than I have had children. Longer than I have

lived in the Valley. Longer than I have been married. Fourteen years, that is

how long my life had been dominated by a large slobbering dog named Clyde.

At 100 pounds, he was hard to miss.

Within our circle of friends and family, Clyde is legendary. Half

black Labrador and half golden retriever, he had a heart as big as his appetite.

At three months, Clyde ate a 10-pound bag of cat food and was well on

his way through the second bag when he got caught. Most dogs would

have been sick for weeks. Clyde passed a little gas (OK, a

lot of gas) and went to check his food dish because he

was hungry. Cat food wasn't the only odd thing he ate.

At six months, Clyde ate a wooden skewer and a baggie … they both

were returned to me intact. Clyde would eat whole hot dogs without chewing

and anything else he could get his huge mouth around. Being a Lab, his

first love, of course, was garbage. He didn't care what was in it — dirty

diapers, egg shells, old fish. To him it was a gold mine. A little bit of heaven

all wrapped up in a garbage bag. Kind of like doggy Christmas presents.

Being a four-legged garbage can was not his only claim to fame. Clyde was fun.

I have never met a dog that pursued happiness like Clyde. On

one camping trip we tried to see if we could tire him out. Not a chance.

Nine of us threw the stick day and night. Nothing slowed him down; he

was relentless. Once he even slammed his head into a parked car while

chasing a stick. Dented the heck out of the fender. He just backed up, wobbled

a little and took off running. He didn't feel pain like you and I — you have

to have a brain to feel pain. Clyde was not a bright dog. Let's just say he

had an intellect rivaled only by a sack of flour.

But he was family. A picnic or camping trip didn't go by

without Clyde in attendance, whether you wanted him there or not. Clyde

could drool five gallons of slobber over a Cheerio. He was the master of the

"sad puppy, I haven't had a meal in

days" look. Ears up, head tilted, brown eyes, so very sad. Even if you just

watched him clean off every child's plate within a half-mile radius, you still bought

into the game. Our kids have never eaten a picnic without Clyde stealing

their food. Yet they adored him.

To a kid he was one of those combination

climbing-toy/best-friend dogs. You could talk him into

anything. Clyde would pull sleds, dive off the high dive, chase rocks and

swim all the way across the lake just to see how you were doing. He smelled

to high heaven, scratched the new hardwood floors and ate every stuffed

animal in the house. I miss him terribly. Clyde died in September. After a

dog like that, it is hard to recover. It took months before we could even think

of getting another dog. There are no other dogs like Clyde. Then we met Wally.

Wally is part chocolate Lab, part Australian shepherd, and who

knows what else. He is a five-pound, chewin', poopin' and peein' puppy. He

thinks the newspaper on the floor is another dog and the cat is a chew toy. At

eight weeks he is already smarter than Clyde was after fourteen years.

Fourteen years … I guess it is time to move

on. The time of Clyde has passed. Now it is time to step into Wally world.

Kate Russell is cleaning up after Wally in between Carnation

and Duvall. You can reach her via

e-mail at Katemo1@msn.com.

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