There she sat quietly in her cage at the Fredericton SPCA dog #1466, wondering who would take a chance with her, a breed with a bad reputation. That was in 1994, when I adopted "Clancy", an eighteen-month old Rottweiler. -- I didn't realize that I could fall so hard and fast for a dog.
At the age of eight I contracted Polio, which completely paralyzed me except for my neck and the fingers of my left hand. With the help of surgery, physiotherapy, and external aids, such as crutches and a long-leg brace, I was able to maintain a fairly 'normal' way of life for many years. While growing up in Harvey Station my father raised CKC registered German Shepherds and my love of dogs followed me throughout the years. Once I became a homeowner, having my 'own' dog was a must, so acquired a young Shepherd from a backyard breeder - a bad mistake. We lost him at age 15 months, but during that time got involved with the River Valley Obedience Club. When it came time to get another dog, I decided to get one from the SPCA so did my homework before hand in order to find a dog that met my requirements - young adult, gentle, not rambunctious - to name a few.
In February 2005 Clancy acquired a new housemate, another Rottweiler, DeeJay. I believe that many of you who have had the privilege of owning a dog or dogs, feel that there was that one "soul dog." Clancy was unquestionably mine. On January 24, 2008 I lost my beloved Clancy. I still miss her terribly !!.
Once Clancy became more comfortable with her new commands, nothing stopped her from retrieving whatever I asked of her and always did it most cheerfully: pick up a spoon or coin, open a door, carry my clothes, help me to remove my coat or socks, carry a clothes basket or recycle bin, drop dirty clothes into a basket, carry my briefcase or purse, retrieve the TV remote, an item from another room or retrieve my crutches. Clancy was also a great little 'gofor' in carrying items to/from my husband.
Once Clancy developed her new skills we were invited to do many demos. Besides the ones with the Obedience Club, we went to several schools, YMCA, Wheels to Meals, Kindness Club, Church groups, and other senior activities. As members of River Valley Obedience we belonged to a Hospital Visitation team that visit the Veterans, patients at the Rehabilitation Centre and Seniors at some of the Nursing Homes. Clancy was always a great representation of her breed and inspired other disabled persons that they too could get a dog to assist them.
Clancy was a very personable dog. She may have come on rather strong at times, as in barking in alert to a stranger in the yard, but soon she was nuzzling you or placing her bum on your feet. She always moved automatically, without commands, when I was walking or scootering - never in a position where she might impede my way. As with any dog that has a high drive, she was always eager to chase a ball or play with her favourite squeaky toy.
At the Malls she learned to quietly walk behind me while going though doorways or aisles, at restaurants to lie quietly under a table or at a meeting to lie quietly beside me. When going for a drive or eating her meal, Clancy would always 'stare' at you asking for permission to proceed. Clancy often surprised me by knowing exactly what I wanted even before I asked her. One day while on the phone I wondered what the commotion was behind me - one of my crutches fell behind my chair and Clancy got up on her own to dig the crutch out. When I experienced some physical difficulties you often would find her standing there with 'that' look that seemed to say, "how best can I help you, Mum?"
The bond between Clancy and I was instant. Even though arthritis and hip displysia eventually settled in her bad leg, that did not stop her from following me everywhere and wanting to 'assist' me however, whenever and whereever.
Many years ago my crutches were replaced by a scooter for most of my ambulation and then several years ago I broke my leg and found it more difficult to do personal chores. From day-one Clancy followed me everywhere. Whether it was following me in the house or running or laying beside my scooter or wheelchair, she could never seem to get close enough to me. Although Clancy and I had originally completed three levels of basic obedience training with River Valley, I felt that Clancy could be further trained to 'assist' me.
Terry Pye of Pye Canine Academy in Keswick spent three weeks giving her additional training such as teaching her the meaning of the words "take it", "hold" and "out". In the beginning Clancy was very stubborn learning these new commands as her house manners were such that she never picked up anything as most dogs do. By nature a Rottweiler is not a retriever.
Although not a Shepherd, "Clancy" (not her name at the time) was a very mature dog for her age and without a history of behavioral problems. Like me, she had a debilitating youth, when according to her 'rap' sheet she had "her right rear leg broken at age 3-4 months". I later found out more of her story .... When a vehicle backed over her leg, her owner was going to destroy her, but the good neighbour decided to take her and pay for her surgery. Later she was 'adopted' by another couple but soon afterwards was taken to the SPCA due to a family break-up.
Clancy and I even made a presentation at the Provincial Legislature (along with 30 others) to fight the proposed Bill #55 wanting to put restrictions on Rottweilers and a few other breeds. We won!! . I believe that Clancy and I had a small part in proving to the Members of Parliament that there are no bad breeds of dogs but that irresponsible ownership causes dog-related problems in our society. Read our Presentation and the subsequent Press Releases..