Today my third pup Clement turns ten years old! I received Clement the summer before my senior year of high school. Yes, I am that old.
I had a lot of fun raising Clement and he was a big part of my senior year of high school - a staple at my water polo games and swim meets and known for snoring through my classes, often on his back. He helped provide comic relief for my family when my Dad was diagnosed with Cancer and went through his first round of treatment.
I still remember getting the call from my group leader in the spring of my freshman year at Boston College to say Clement was in class. I put his picture on the front of my dorm room with a note announcing his graduation for everyone to see. My first graduate! I was proud beyond belief.
My wonderful, loving, generous parents even flew me from Boston to San Francisco in April 2001 so I could present Clement at graduation. I think the man sitting next to me on my flight from Boston to San Francisco thought I had a screw lose, flying all that way for a dog. He laughed and told me the dog didn't care. But he did, and I did too. My parents drove up from Los Angeles to meet me and to see Clement again. I am pretty sure I made my mom bake me cookies, too, so I could take them back to school with me.
My club had four pups graduate that day: Tamara, Quentin, Tommy, and Clement.
Clement went to a lovely woman named Angela who lived in Las Vegas. I kept in touch with her for a year or two and then fell out of contact; I came home for Thanksgiving my senior year to find a note from Guide Dogs that Angela had passed away, and Clement had been retired and adopted by a friend of Angela's family.
Clement and his new family were featured on the front of an issue of Guide Dog News - it seems his new best friend is a young boy with a visual impairment and cerebral palsy who, with Clement's help, stood up for the very first time. When I read the article, I cried. Then I called my mom, read her the story, and we both cried. That little puppy, the one who climbed in the dishwasher! Look what he's doing now.
Angela's legacy lives on through Blindconnect, an organization that provides services to the blind community of Nevada. You can read more about them here.
So, happy Birthday, Clement! I am so very proud to say I raised you!