“Clementine looks like she has always been my dog, but the truth is I didn’t take to her when we first met,” Bill continued.Clementine or Clem, as he calls her, started
out being his son’s dog. While driving out to the Grand Canyon through the Navajo reservation in Arizona some years back, his son, Eric, noticed what appeared to be a dog lying on the dusty median strip. Arizona’s desolate landscape in those parts is rivaled only by the sun’s cruelty. Naturally worried about the welfare of the dog, the young man turned his car around and came upon a badly injured, but still alive, Border Collie. Her injuries were severe from getting hit by a car, so he quickly loaded her into his and drove to the nearest veterinarian he could find along the road. Getting hit by a car – if it doesn’t kill the animal from the sheer blunt force trauma of the impact, – typically breaks bones, causes serious brain concussions or a whole slew of potentially irreparable neurological problems. Upon arrival, the vet rushed her to get an immediate series of treatments, which lasted late into the night. Meanwhile, Eric kept asking searching for the identity of the dog’s owner. He even suspended his trip and stayed at a nearby motel, hoping the dog would pull through and her owner would appear to claim her. But, nobody came.
So three days later, after it was confirmed that the dog would live, Bill received a phone call from the middle of nowhere in Arizona: “I’m coming home with a dog for Dad.” Dad then immediately protested, but the furball arrived with Eric anyway.
Clem was not the first “dog for Dad” in Bill’s house. Another dog, Cody, had already won Bill’s family’s love and affection, so he by his own admission shunned the newcomer. That is until two days after her arrival, while playing with Cody in the backyard, Clem suddenly started wandering in circles. Suspecting something terribly wrong, Bill ran out to her to find out what was the matter. Clem’s eyes began switching crazily back and forth, so he scooped her up and hollered to his wife, Bonnie, to get the car keys. Bonnie drove like a mad woman, fearing Clem might get worse before they get her help. The vet, who examined Clementine, discovered she had an inner ear problem caused by her earlier trauma. It took several trips to the vet and about 6 months of care to get Clementine well again. Overtime things began to change in the house. She and Cody even became inseparable until Cody passed from cancer. Bill now calls Clementine is his “best friend” and the best unexpected present he’d ever received.
It wasn’t overnight or even over a few weeks, but Clementine, with her imperfect nose, health and story, managed to win the hearts of Bill’s family and now their neighbors’. Maybe all those years ago, when she lay broken and abandoned on a sandy Arizona road, waiting to be rescued by an angel, she was really waiting to become that angel to those around her?
* Co-written by Bill Amshey