Early 2002 we decided to have dogs and wanted to contribute to looking after dogs that had not been as fortunate as others and was aware of DoggieRescue in Sydney run by Monika Biernacki. My wife and I had both had many dogs and always valued their input to family life. We accessed the DoggieRescue web site giving information on many dogs available at the time, one stood out, Claude a Maltese pup that would need heart surgery.
We showed Claude’s picture to our son just nearly two at the time and he smiled putting out his hand towards Claude’s picture, we should pay attention to small things that give direction. We made some phone enquiries and Claude was still available so we made the trip from the Hunter Valley to Sydney to see Claude.
We found Claude had a friend Fred whom had been at DoggieRescue for some time so we secured both as our family pets. Claude initially had to stay behind and undergo his heart surgery at Sydney University, Fred came home with us and when we returned to pick up Claude some two weeks later in May of 2002, this was aired on the TV program Animal Hospital with our son Aidan and Fred picking Claude up to take home still in bandages.
Claude, Fred and Aidan became inseparable; they eat, played and slept together. 2004 Aidan got a sister Rhiannon and they all grew up together with so many fantastic memories. Fred was quiet and reserved where Claude was full of life and had two speeds awake and full on, or asleep.
Claude’s heart surgery had not worried him but as time went on he would face much hardship, whilst I was building a carport, at the age of two Claude had his first setback, a broken leg from a falling steel beam that lost balance whilst lying against a wall. He soldiered through the problem with an exemplary attitude. At the age of 4 he started having fits but with medication this was controlled but would not go away. The medication eventually led to pancreatitis at the age of seven and he spent two weeks at the vet but eventually pulled through. A low fat diet had Claude operating normally again but he was at times still plagued with fits. Fred would alert us if Claude had problems and from the age of seven Claude was on deaths door so many times and we got used to how to manage it to assist in having him stay with us.
I would sometimes be up all night with Claude, he was always happy had never whimpered about any of his problems and always there for us and I promised not never to leave him. He appeared to know this and fought tooth and nail through many close calls but always came out smiling with masses of help from many vets who also had a soft spot for Claude.
While this was going on I learnt a lot from Claude, he had so many problems but it was not going to stop him living life to the full with his family. Being injured and suffering chronic pain myself I was amazed and admired Claude’s resilience and we learnt to battle through these things together.
Claude and Fred were far more than dogs, they were at times the centre of the universe, all good things come to an end and in 2011 Fred passed away. Claude was devastated and lay around mopping for weeks. We had hoped Fred would make our move to the country and enjoy the wide open spaces but it was not to be. In late 2011 we made our move to the central highlands of NSW and Claude came good living in a huge yard with chickens, sheep, cats must have been his dream with regular trips through the bush. In May 2012 Claude became gravely ill, further medication was given and Claude for a short time really picked up. This did not last and on the 10th of July 2012 a date I will never forget Claude’s little body said enough and he passed away.
We knew the time was near and Claude spent his last month with two new pups, highland cattle dogs, at times a bit of a nightmare for him but they became the best of friends and he spent his last days being nursed by them. This helped the family through the ordeal as the old passed and the new took up a place in the family, further education from our friends Claude and Fred on how to live life no matter what.
We retained Fred’s ashes and buried them with Claude beneath the trees in the garden that Claude had waited all his life for. I will be forever indebted to Claude and Fred, at last after so much trying through life’s ups and downs although they had both gone we felt we had done something right.
Claude and Fred had great lives, went everywhere with us and in doing so made our lives great. However this has not dampened the sorrow that we feel as they have left a hole in our hearts and we miss them so much, for those pure of heart an angel waits.