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    July 04, 2008

    Cliff and Norm, R.I.P.

    Posted by: Chris

    Cliffnorm It's been a quiet week of blogging for me, and I want to thank Andoni and Kevin for doing such a great job holding down the fort. I've alluded before about having returned early for this trip to the U.S. because of a difficult time for my family. Some of you already know that my sister is very near death after a prolonged period of incapacitation, and these final weeks have been wrenching for all of us.

    This past week, I have taken a detour from my family time in Memphis to come to Atlanta, which was my home for most of the 1990s. Unfortunately, grim news followed me. My time here happened to coincide with a visit by the very kind family who took in my beagles, Cliff and Norm, when I moved to Brazil in 2006. They shared the very sad news that Norman had passed away some six months ago, and Clifford had run off two or three months before that.

    The news came as a complete shock, somewhat compounded by my not knowing for so long it had happened. (Long story there.) I remain grateful to them for providing a home to my dogs for their final years, and they did their best to reassure me their neighborhood is densely populated and chances are good that Cliff was simply taken in by another family.

    Cliffnormhug That isn't hard to believe, actually. Everyone loved Cliff and Norm. In the 15 years these lifelong littermates were my nearly constant companions at home and at the office, friends and coworkers would come by as much to hang out with "the boys" as to see me. When I began the heavy travel schedule to Holland and then Brazil, there was never a shortage of friends more than happy to adopt them for a long-weekend or even a couple of weeks.

    I was a bit of a mess when I said my goodbyes to Cliff and Norm back in October 2006, because I knew I might not see them again. They were far too old to endure the travel to Brazil, and I had no good way of caring for them properly down there. I do know that their final year or so was happy, because the friend's family who took them in loves dogs and has a big backyard with lots of room for exploring.

    Still, I feel some guilt about how the boys were impacted by my life decisions, dating back to 2005 when I moved for the first time into a condo setting. Beagles need space because their noses are always compelling them to explore. Our short walks to the park in Colombia Heights couldn't compare to time spent sniffing the winds and rummaging around the backyard.

    Of course I hope that Cliff remains alive and thriving, but I will let go of my own relationship to him, and say thanks to them both for so many years of unconditional love and faithful companionship.



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    1. Lucrece on Jul 4, 2008 6:43:58 PM:

      I'm sorry for your loss, and I hope you will get over your sense of culpability for the "boys"' demise; it wasn't your fault. How dreadful it is to be reminded of the mortality of one's companions.

      Best wishes, dear.

    1. Scott on Jul 4, 2008 7:56:21 PM:

      Cute dogs. Rest in peace.

    1. Randy Thomas on Jul 4, 2008 8:27:49 PM:

      Gosh, as a fellow dog lover my heart goes out to you. I will also keep you and your family in prayer.

    1. Hawyer on Jul 4, 2008 8:34:19 PM:

      Loss of cherished canine companions is especially heart-wrenching. They are so utterly guileless and undemanding in their unconditional love - attributes that we long for in human relationships.

      ALSO -- I hope will will feel the freedom to elaborate on your sister's condition. We all have families and certainly share your despair over life-altering situations.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jul 5, 2008 12:59:05 AM:

      The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most.

      A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its clouds upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.

      A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side.

      He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

      If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

      George Graham Vest, Eulogy on the Dog

      Best of wishes to your family - and especially to your sister.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Jul 5, 2008 2:33:28 AM:

      I was very sorry to read about the loss of your dogs and to learn that your sister is so ill. Confronting either is would be painful enough -- I can't imagine facing both at the same time.

      God bless you and your family during this difficult period.

    1. Dawn Keeler on Jul 5, 2008 10:57:30 AM:

      Thank you for letting us all know what you have been going through so that, at least in spirit, we can walk it out with you. Please know that I have been keeping you and yours in my prayers.

      God Bless you all and may you be surronded by his Holy Angels to watch over and guide you.....

    1. Chris Schultz on Jul 6, 2008 4:41:34 AM:

      Chris -

      The pain of loss weighs heavily on our hearts regardless of whether we lose a friend, a family member or a companion. We can all share the feeling of that pain, each of us having felt it numerous times. I offer my personal thoughts and prayers to you and your loved ones and wish you the greatest peace.

    1. KJ on Jul 7, 2008 9:16:27 PM:

      I am sorry to hear of losing your canine family members, and pray for your sister's and family's strength and peace.

    1. arizona gynecologist on May 25, 2011 3:53:13 AM:

      Sorry to hear that. One of the saddest day for us.

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