Story and photos courtesy of Laura Brinks
Clara Ivy (or Clara Bear as we tenderly called her) bloomed from the Sunflower State of Kansas. Found as a stray, pregnant and alone, she birthed seven pups three days prior to being taken in by Denver-based LOLA’s Rescue.
Clara and her 3 day old puppies were lovingly fostered at our home. During this time, Clara stole our hearts and as all of her puppies found their new homes, she found her “fur-ever” home with us on April 21, 2014 (the day of her official adoption). She was about 2 years old at that time.
Over the next four years, as I continued to foster over one hundred dogs (dog moms and their pups), Clara was right by my side, helping to care not only for the puppies, but also tenderly guiding and educating the mama dogs. Whether Clara was on a walk, indulging on a rawhide, or basking in the sun, she was the leader of the pack and resonated peace, love, and acceptance.
In 2017, I lost my mom and shortly after that, I lost my job. I fell into a deep depression. As I slowly and carefully managed my way through those dark moments, Clara’s emotional and physical care and presence inspired me to reach out so that together we could spread our love to others.
We reached out to HABIC, nailed the obedience training, and set out to spread puppy joy to others. We enjoyed being at Columbine Health Center, visiting patients and residents. The presence of Clara’s, happy face and waggy tail brought so many smiles, and helped many move and use their bodies more than they thought they were able! Joy was experienced all around. The connection was beautiful!
Shortly after the experience at Columbine, we transitioned to volunteering with youth at Respite Care. The children who attend Respite Care have developmental disabilities, and my own son had previously attended that childcare program for 18 years, so it was a special gift to return and bring along Clara’s calm and ease.
The time spent with the children was a learning experience for all of us. Often Clara would want to show her caring, nurturing side and be eager to greet, but some children who experienced sensory issues would feel very uncertain about even approaching a dog. Clara learned to lie down and allow children to approach, if only to touch or pet her back. It was so amazing to watch children get to the point where they were comfortable petting her and feeding her a treat.
Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Clara looked forward to going on her volunteer adventures every week. I think she missed throwing that red scarf on and gleefully walking into those buildings to greet so many beautiful and amazing people.
Sadly, our sweet Clara (age 8 1/2) crossed the rainbow bridge rather suddenly on September 23 from an unexpected diagnosis of a liver tumor.
Until we meet again sweet girl.