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Memories of the magnificent, mischievous Clifford


Sunday, February 11, 2018

About this time every year, a series of photos begin to appear on my Facebook feed. They are labeled “memories,” and they cover a very specific topic.

When my beloved dachshund, Clifford, died in 2012, one of the ways I dealt with my grief was to write about him. I also posted many, many photos of the sugar-faced fellow. It seemed the least I could do to pay tribute to the stubborn little wonder dog who was the light of my life.

In the early years after I lost him, seeing those photos resurface used to make my heart ache. Even though I was lucky enough to adopt two extraordinary new dogs, Ollie and Einstein, I still missed my Clifford terribly. His life and mine were woven together in such a way that losing him made me feel as though I had lost a part of myself.

But gradually, the pain faded then disappeared. And as those photos re-emerged, I began to feel not sorrow, but joy.

“Look at that face!” I would think, gazing adoringly at Clifford’s majestic snout. “I remember how he used to hog the blankets and bark commands at me all day long!”

I have begun to think of February as National Clifford Month, a time to pay tribute to my little red-hair rascal. With this in mind, I would like to share a story that typifies his glorious existence.

Nothing on earth ever interested Clifford as much as food. He was a walking, barking embodiment of the words “chow hound.” He considered any food within reach to be rightly his, and most food out of reach was probably his as well, in Clifford’s opinion. The abiding rule in the Storm household was: “Leave no snack unattended.” 

This was tricky enough when we were at home, but is often became an embarrassment when we went visiting. One trip in particular stands out.

Clifford and I had been invited to a friend’s home for Thanksgiving. We arrived with some flowers and dessert, ready for a lovely evening.

And it was lovely — for about 15 minutes.

While we were in the living room talking turkey, Clifford slipped away. As soon as I noticed he was gone, I darted out to find what he was up to.

As it happens, he was up to his chin in cat food. My friend had left a special meal out for her tabby, and Clifford has pushed the unfortunate feline aside so he could gobble up her fare. 

I picked up my greedy pup, apologized to the poor cat, and marched back to the living room. I held Clifford in my lap for a few minutes, until his wiggling got to be unbearable. Then I placed him on the floor and ordered him to behave.

Perhaps he didn’t hear me.

A few minutes after Clifford hit the floor, he disappeared again. Before I even began my search, I heard him whining and noticed and odd dragging sound.

My friend had put down a glue trap to try and catch a mouse in her house. The trap was baited with peanut butter, a particular favorite of Clifford’s. Suffice it to say the “mouse” she caught was a bit larger than expected.

After carefully extracting Clifford’s paw, I once again told him to behave.

Apparently, his ears were clogged with cat food and peanut butter. He disappeared again. Then once more, I heard wining and the odd dragging sound.

Clifford had discovered another peanut butter-baited trap, and ignoring the lessons of the past, had once again gotten a paw stuck to its surface. 

I was mortified. My friend couldn’t stop laughing. The cat looked smug.

After I freed his paw, I held Clifford in my lap for the rest of the evening, including at dinner where he repeatedly tried to steal food off my plate 

On the ride home, he snoozed away, no doubt dreaming of the buffet he had enjoyed. I still chuckle when I think of his contented little face.

No wonder my memories bring me so much joy.

There will never be another Clifford.

Contact Janet Storm at jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.