Friday, August 14, 2015

Claren


Claren, my service dog and partner, died today -- it still hurts to breathe.

Let's be real, though, we were only partners like Batman and Robin are partners, Not the cool, kick-butt Robin either, but the one from the TV show who was a goofball at best.

I was definitely the dorky sidekick.

Claren is the one who danced with my friend at her wedding. She is the one strangers would stop and marvel at. Even today, one of the receptionists came out to the car crying and said how special Claren was and how everyone loved her.

But even much-loved dogs get old. Their bodies work less well. The allergy that they once ignored becomes overwhelming.

And such it was with Claren.

She was drinking a ton, her legs were weakening, and her skin allergies had become unbearable. She was one big sore.


So we made an appointment at the vet to end things. My vet was off today, but she came in anyway. Claren got a huge breakfast, topped off by a plate of whipped cream from my nephew and niece. Then my sister and I headed in.

The vet had a room set up with a table that raised and lowered all ready, so I didn't need to get out of my chair. Claren got right on, and they raised it to my level. The vet explained what would happen, and we all patted Claren. Some techs came in and put a catheter in. Then the vet came back, and when I was ready, gave her a sedative and then the final shot.

Claren hardly moved throughout.

It was the sedative that did me in, just seeing her eyes close and knowing they wouldn't again open.

And she died.

We sat for a while longer.

When life was hard for me, I'd go outside, get Claren to put her front feet on my lap, and press my head against hers. I imagined her taking the crap on herself and it made me feel better. I did that once more, then we left.


I can't overestimate how much Claren has meant to me. She helped me become more like the person I want to be, and I will always be indebted to Canine Companions for Independence for giving me this wonderful being.

But it doesn't stop with CCI. Someone took care of her Mom; Claren's puppy-raisers, Mary-Ann and Charlie, molded her into the loving dog I knew; the hundreds of people I met through CCI taught me so much about dogs and life; the cadre of walkers, water-getters, poop-picker-uppers and friends at USA TODAY gave their hearts freely; vets in Falls Church (Falls Church Animal Hospital), Herndon (Herndon-Reston Animal Hospital) and elsewhere treated her ailments; Dominion Pet Center (my first job!) kept me well-supplied; the folks at my new job welcomed her for the two years she was there; of course, my family helped so much; and it goes on and on.


Thank you.

I won't get into the theology of whether dogs go to heaven, but I know Claren is running, itchless finally, somewhere with her many friends, including Jack, Cleo, Sajen and Tanner, rolling in poop, diving into lakes and eating 73 meals a day.

I will get a successor dog, no doubt about that. But for now, I will be sad and miss my girl. 

102 comments:

Anonymous said...

Matt, thank you for sharing your feelings and pictures. I remember NY and the first days. I loved Claren!

Anonymous said...

All the bad words, Matt, and all the good ones
xxoo
metc

Anonymous said...

A hard hard thing undertaken with such love. These pictures and so wonderful.
I love you.
jtg

Nicole said...

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. My son is young, a mere novice alongside his service dog pup, but I can only hope that looking back on his dog's life one day he can say that she knew as much love as your Claren. I am so glad you knew her and so sad she has passed away. My thoughts are with you and all that loved her.

am said...

so much love to you today, thank you for sharing such a beautiful, beautiful post. <3

Craftymom75 said...

I am so sorry for your loss, what a good friend. I am so sure she is so happy and running around having fun.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. Thinking of you tonight.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you have lost your devoted companion......losing a friend and helpmate is never easy......much love and prayers coming your way and to Claren.....she obviously loved you very much as you did her.....

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I know how special and important our dogs are. Sending you love and prayers from Nantucket.

Josie's Mom said...

Dear Matt, I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved friend, Claren. I hope that all of your wonderful memories will bring you comfort and peace at this terrible time.
You will be in our prayers. Sending you huge hugs from New York!!!

tricia vocasek said...

Im so sorry. What a good dog and friend. Hugs. 💗

Love, Lace. said...

So sorry for your loss. Thinking of you during this rough time.

Anonymous said...

I am so very sorry. My girl is 16, and I dread the day...hugs to you from Memphis.

Anonymous said...

Im so sorry for your loss. Much love and prayers for you at this time.

Anonymous said...

Our dog Bailey died yesterday, he was 14. He looked a lot like Claren, only much furrier. I imagine he met her on the "other side" and they are playing together in a grassy field. Sending hugs and comfort from California.

Anonymous said...

HI Matt. I am just so sorry. Take comfort in your beautiful memories and know that Yes, she is in Heaven running and playing and having all the treats her little heart could ever want. She will be with you, as you grieve. Much love to you and prayers for peace. xoxoxoox Lisa.

Unknown said...

I read about your sad loss on Diary. You are in my heart , thoughts and prayers, sending love to you from Ireland tonight xxxxxxx L
isa

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to your furry family member. Love and light.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. It's heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm sending you good thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. God bless you and Claren. My prayers are with you both.

Anonymous said...

Matt,
Im so very sorry for loss. Please know that my children, husband and I are praying for your strength and faith to know it gets better. Gods got his hand on you. Know you and Claren are thought of tonight and we lift you up in prayer. God bless!!!

neonfool said...

Saying prayers for you both. I am so so sorry you have this pain. God bless you and God has blessed Claren.

Molly Havey said...

Matt,
I have heard nothing but amazing things about, Claren. I hope you can find strength in all of the great memories you two have shared.
Thoughts and comfort your way.

Mary Sheldon said...

Matt,
We here in San Diego know your pain. Our loving, faithful confidante and family member passed on 2 yeara ago. Our hearts go out to you as we send prayers up.
Maybe Nickel and Claren (both finally itch free) are running, playing and keeping an eye on us still *love to you*
The Sheldon Family

Meghan McCann said...

in the very least, you know she isn't hurting anymore, she also isn't tired and bothered by her skin allergies. I came to the same decision about a year ago with my 14 year old pup with the same sort of complaints. Im sure that you were as important to her as she was for you. Im so sorry for your loss.

Kathleen Kelly said...

Feeling your pain. We had to help our own dog, Aimee, pass peacefully last week. (Cancer)
She was a part of our family for ten years. She wasn't a service dog, but a loving pet and friend to my son with autism.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your loss. We can love dogs, but they love us so much more...

Alondra Rogers said...

Much love to you at such a hard time. XXXOOO

Anonymous said...

my thoughts and prayers are with you and Claren the love of such a special friend will always be with you.Trina

Ehlara said...

Your love for Claren is so clear. You were lucky to have one another and that doesn't make her loss any easier, but known that there is a whole world of people out here that you can press your forehead against to pass on some of the weight. With love, and wishing you all the best,
Louise

Debra Ann Elliott said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your best friend. May you be comforted by the wonderful memories.

Anette Taylor said...

I am so sorry for your loss... I lost my best fur buddy 3 weeks ago and it still hurts... You are in my prayers!

Michelle David said...

So very sorry for your loss. But what a blessing to have known such a joyous spirit in your life for so long. Animals make our lives richer, more joyous and full of laughter. The blessing of having someone who loves you unconditionally and without judgement is truly a gift beyond price. Hoping that your memories bring you some comfort in your time of grief and that you are lucky enough to find another furry soul mate soon who can bring your heart ease and laughter to your life once more.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss :(

Anne Gowens said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you. I know the pain of losing such a dear companion and it's heart breaking. The two of you were sure blessed with each other. When I think so often of the many dogs who are abused or abandoned it saddens me. They deserve to be loved and cared for as a member of your family. I have 6 dogs 4 were rescued shelter dogs and I couldn't imagine our lives without them. We have sacrifice much time (vacation time) and money in caring for all of them but we wouldn't have it any other way. Everyone in our family helps to love and care for them...it gets pretty crazy around here at times. ♡

Ivonne said...

Hi Matt,
I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Claren. She will be with you always in your heart!
Hugs from a big time dog lover from Canada.

Anne Gowens said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you. I know the pain of losing such a dear companion and it's heart breaking. The two of you were sure blessed with each other. When I think so often of the many dogs who are abused or abandoned it saddens me. They deserve to be loved and cared for as a member of your family. I have 6 dogs 4 were rescued shelter dogs and I couldn't imagine our lives without them. We have sacrifice much time (vacation time) and money in caring for all of them but we wouldn't have it any other way. Everyone in our family helps to love and care for them...it gets pretty crazy around here at times. ♡

Christy Cooper said...

So lucky are we that spend our days with furry angels. My heart is heavy for you, for I too know the love of a wonderful companion and the pain of their passing. May you find peace and comfort in the fun times you shared together.

Rainbow Dreams said...

hi matt,

i am so sorry for your loss. i am sending sympathy and good wishes to you, and so much empathy (i also lost one of my best friends today).

may the blessings and love claren and jack brought to our lives help us as we grieve that they had to leave.

chris

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you and your sidekick -- so, so sorry for your loss. I think that you should be commended for giving her such a wonderful life and also for making the hardest & bravest decision to help her let go of her struggle in a gentle and loving way. Wishing you many happy memories and peace in your heart.

Anonymous said...

This broke my heart. Hugs and sympathies from Schenectady, NY.

Lakredi said...

Hi Matt,
So sorry for your loss. Claren sounded like a beautiful dog. I wish I could have met her. I wish you love and peace. <3

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,
I read about you and Claren on Jess' Diary of a Mom FB page.
Such great photos. I'm glad you had each other. You don't know me, but I've been there (albeit not with a service dog) and will be thinking of you tonight and for awhile.
Take care.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the pain and heartbreak you are feeling.you will be in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

Sending extra prayers up for you. Hugs.

Kori

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you. I will be keeping you and Clarence in my thoughts.

Stef Rutledge said...

Hi Matt. I'm not sure what to say through my tears other than I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss. There are times where my fur family us all I had and just the thought of losing one takes my breath away. I hope you find some comfort in knowing that she is free of anything that was ailing her and she is so happy. One day you will see her again. My prayers are with you.

Linda Brown said...

Matt,

My heart breaks for you as you deal with such a great loss. I, too, am certain Claren is romping joyfully in heaven. Prayers of peace and comfort as you slowly move forward.

Linda

Liane said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. It is heartbreaking to say goodbye to a beloved friend like Claren. Sending you much sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Your story definitely made me cry... it can be so hard to do the right thing. Saying bye to Claren was so hard, but the right thing to do for her. Extra prayers for both of you tonight. Stay brave and strong! <3 Ally

Anonymous said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. I will keep you both in my thoughts.

Gina said...

Very sorry for your loss. I know the pain you are feeling. The pain of breathing after a loss is a terrible pain. I like to think of your Claren providing service and comfort to those we have all lost while feeling the love from them. Hugs to you

Gina

Tracy said...

I am so sorry for your loss. May the memories of Claren keep you strong. Prayers are being sent for you and Claren.

Megan said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and Claren. Dogs are so much more than just pets, or service animals.. they become a part of our hearts. I am so very sorry.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. It looks like a beautiful friendship. We are watching our 12 year old dog start to slow down and my heart aches every time I think about it.

Angie Martinez said...

I am so so sorry for your loss. It was a beautiful love you had, dogs are not just animals they are family. Just know Claret will always be in your heart and she will always be your beautiful angel.

Tina Hadley said...

Matt, Jess from Diary of a Mom told me about you and the loss of your beautiful fur baby, Claren. I'm so sorry for all you are going through. I pray God fills your heart with good memories of the times you had together, to think of when you start to miss her. I also pray that God met her as she entered heaven and she is with him, where she will stay, with no pain, but happiness, until you are reunited. My thoughts and prayers are with you! ~Tina~

Patti Tirpak said...

Thinking of you in your time of loss. I'm sure that Claren is enjoying herself in Heaven awaiting you one day 😊

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you can find some comfort in your memories of your time together.

Linda Gates said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I have felt the same pain and only time will heal. You were blessed to have her and can have peace in knowing that she no longer is suffering.

Linda Gates said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I have felt the same pain and only time will heal. You were blessed to have her and can have peace in knowing that she no longer is suffering.

Colleen said...

May her memory be a blessing and bring you comfort.

Take the right amount of time to let yourself grieve, however long or short. Stay in or go out as it feels right *to you*. It is important.

Claren sounds like she was wonderful. Here's hoping she is running, energetic and itch-free, somewhere.

Jana Smith said...

I am so sorry for loss. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way. May you find peace very soon.

Jana Smith said...

I am so sorry for loss. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way. May you find peace very soon.

Jana Smith said...

I am so sorry for loss. Sending prayers and good thoughts your way. May you find peace very soon.

Sheila said...

I am so sorry for your loss and I pray that your sorrow will lift and only good memories of claren will comfort you soon.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. May you find peace in your ever precious memories of your beloved Claren.

susan o'connell said...

Oh, Matt, I'm so sorry for your loss! Holding you and Claren close to my heart.

Anonymous said...

So so sorry for your loss! Your love for Claren shines through, so brightly she couldn't help but feel it, wherever she is. What is remembered, lives.

Genna Millar said...

Dude, I know your pain and I am so so sorry. It's one of life's unfairest things that dog's can't live as long as we do. Claren was so special to you and although you ache for her now - the physical stuff like smell, touch and feel of her - please know, you'll never forget her. There's a saying that you'nevnever replace your dog - your heart is simply expanded each time you love another. I lost my boy 8 months back and we got a new dog a few weeks ago. I am starting to fall in love again, but it's been hard. I'll never forget my best bud and I still miss him intensely, but new dog has her charms too and I feel myself falling again. It will come. Give yourself time to remember your best buddy.

Mary Hall said...

I'm so sorry that your dog had to go. I, too, had to put my baby down and I agree, it's hard. I still miss him and it's been 10 years. Know that you are not alone in this sadness. I grieve for you

GiantsPrincess said...

Oh Matt - I am so very, very sorry by the loss of your constant companion. Claren sounds like she was the perfect dog for you and she gave you her all. The unselfishness of your decision is a testament of your giving your all for her. I pray that she is now at peace and out of her discomfort. I pray that you are able to take comfort in that as well. Sending a big hug to you and God Bless.

Patrick said...

I went looking tonight and found the first time Claren appeared in my email. It was March 2004, and there had just been a big ice storm. Patty was on vacation. Swango had jury duty. Jess emailed, "Is it just you and Chet and Sam running the Web site? And Matt Trott's new dog?" I wrote back, "Matt's dog is great. If there's a dog that could work CMS, it's Claren. But even if she could at least bark at CMS, the empathy would be so welcome." She never did, of course. She was too good at her job for that. But if she could have...

April said...

Matt,

I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine what you're going through but my heart hurts for you during this difficult and painful time.

Janet said...

I am so sorry. It is so hard to loose your part of your heart.

Cassie Hermann said...

I am so deeply sorry for your loss. My fiance just started his service dog companion journey last year in August and I can only imagine what that day will look like when we too have to say goodbye. My thoughts and prayers are with you through your time of mourning and I hope you can find another pup.

Anne Wilson said...

So sorry for your loss Matt. Claren sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about you.. hugs all the way from London Ontario Canada.

lori drewrey said...

So sorry the loss of your best friend. Prayers and comfort,Loving arms surround you tonight sweetie!

Misa said...

I'm sitting here in Los Angeles wiping away the waterfall of tears so I can type. There is absolutely no love like that of a dog for their human and vice-versa. Their love is unconditional and undeserved and the only drawback is that most of the time we have the blessing and curse to be witness to their happy lives from beginning to end. My heart breaks each day seeing my 16yo pup hobble, or stumble, or not even notice when I call his name while I stand next to him. All we can do is love fiercely and appreciate while we can. I hope you find comfort in knowing that Claren had the most amazing life because you loved her so much. "Mourning is Love with no place to go." I am thinking of you and loving my pup harder in honor of Claren. -Melissa L.

Yanksgal said...

Matt, I am so very sorry for your loss. The pain of kissing them is only equal to the joy of sharing a life with them. ❤️❤️❤️

Yanksgal said...

Losing them - I mean. I've lost 4 and each time it has been shattering but it am confident we will meet again.

Cynthia Thompson said...

So sorry for your loss. Is never easy to lose a 4 legged family member, but even harder when you spend 24/7 with them. Prayers for your healing and that of your friends and family. Claren will be waiting at the rainbow bridge playing and healthy and free from pain.
Hugs and puppy kisses <3

Rebecca MacDonald said...

So sorry for your loss. I hope that the memories and the knowledge that you gave her a great life carry you through this heavy time.

Rebecca MacDonald said...

So sorry for your loss. I hope that the memories and the knowledge that you gave her a great life carry you through this heavy time.

Dorrace Samples said...

Reading your blog made me cry remembering when I had to put down my furbaby Pig. Yes, I had a dog named Pig, named after his aunt Piglet who he looked like. I wish I could tell you the pain you feel will go away. I really do wish that was true...but you will feel the loss for the rest of your days. The good news is you will learn to deal with the loss of your baby girl. You will eventually be able to think of her and smile. And eventually you will find another furbaby and your heart will melt and you won't constantly compare the new baby to her. It will take time. And tears. Lots of 'em. But you will get thru this. You are strong. You are strong enough to get thru this devastating loss. You are strong enough to deal with this and get thru this. Sending love and light your way.

becky S said...

Love and prayers for you and your precious friend. May she run happy and free for eternity.
💜💜

Terri said...

Matt, I knew Claren when she was a puppy and I met you at your graduation luncheon with Mary Ann and Charlie. I was turning in my 3rd CCI pup, Orser, and trying hard not to cry (I failed - I murmured, "Nice to meet you" and ran out of the room with Orser). I turned in my 15th pup, Aaron, yesterday... still hard, but I can now do it without crying in front of the dog, very important to me. Hearing about your relationship with Claren is very soothing to me right now. I am so sorry for your loss, these dogs leave quite a void. Your successor dog's puppy raisers will be thrilled to get you for their dog, thanks for being such a great partner to Claren.

Karen sims said...

So sorry for your loss as a pet owner and having gone threw this myself twice I want you to know your life is richer because claren was in it

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. Sending prayers to you.

Anonymous said...

I never had the opportunity to meet yourself or Claren, but your writing made me feel like I have. Prayers and hugs sent your way... :(

mandi said...

My prayers for you in this time of heartache! Take solace in knowing she's in heaven playing with no pain and just waiting till she gets to see you again.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss of beautiful Claren. There is no doubt that she has made it to heaven and is happy and healthy again.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss:( May your loving memories of sweet Claren bring you comfort.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your loss of such a great friend. Please know he will always be with you and when you feel his presence know that he is watching over you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt, we are so sorry for your loss. Claren was a special pupper. We have fond memories of her, especially zooming in and around the lake and the puppy parties. We are sending love and hugs. Ted&Harma

Lynne Hansen said...

Matt,
Your Eulogy for Claren is beautiful. I know your heart hurts. I am so sorry. The pic of Claren jumping off Rick and Cyndi's dock with much dog joy - and there's Czar, who preceded her in April, awaiting his turn to fly. May they both be flying through the ether with big dog grins.

Good girl Claren. Well done.

Lynne

Roxanna Hinzman said...

Matt,
What a beutiful tribute for a beautiful soul, and amazing partnership. I recall the first time we met at Rick and Cyndi's puppy party. How happy Claren was to be swimming with her cousins, diving off the dock, and romping like a puppy. Watching your happiness at her antics. Seeing a team like you and Claren is truly every puppy raiser's dream. So, as the tears roll for you, and all of us who have so recently lost our beloved pups, know that I am holding you close in my heart. However and whenever it comes,I hope for you the peace that comes when the pain eases, and the joy of having had the radical love and acceptence that she gave you gently fills the hole that is in your heart. How lucky are we to have had our lives graced by them. Hugs to you. Rox

Matt Trott said...

Hi, I mostly write to figure out what I am feeling. If I didn't write, I'd be lost. i needed to get something out about Claren no matter how hard because I didn't know how else to process my feelings. I didn't expect such an amazing outpouring of grace, many from strangers, some of whom learned about Claren's death from Diary of a Mom. Strangers like Louise, who reminded me that "there is a whole world of people out here that you can press your forehead against to pass on some of the weight."

Thank you all. You all have lifted my burden and I will forever treasure your words.

To my sisters and Dad: Yes. I love you.

To Patrick: She totally would have barked at CMS if she knew the misery it brought.

To Terri: It would be impossible to not be a good partner to Claren.

To Harma and Ted: Thanks, that is your picture of her leaping off the dock. One of my favorite photos of her.

To Lynne: You know she and Czar are having fun.

To Rox: Watching Claren's unfettered play was the best! I am so sorry you lost Kya. What a blow.

Again, thanks.

Laury said...

My eyes got all rainy reading this. What a beautiful tribute, Matt. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Claren's life and your partnership are an inspiration.

Steve said...

Yeah, I'm in tears now and I'm supposed to be working. I loved that special pooch of yours. Hugs.

Matt Trott said...

Thanks Steve and Laury. She was so great.

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