Ode to the life of Monsieur Clovis

Ode to the life of Monsieur Clovis

He was everything that people flee. Turbulent, overly sensitive, demanding. Here is how an animal made our editor in chief a better person.

October 16, 2019

When my hairdresser told me about the family that was falling apart and their dog who was up for adoption, my response was unequivocal. He showed me photos. I never really figured out how I went from “no” to “yes”.

The dog arrived against his will. He was 18 months old. We became, Elisabeth and I, his fifth family. The victim of his own good looks, he’d been adopted by people who had proven unable to cope with such an athletic dog.


I remember his bulging eyes when he realized that his previous owner was leaving him at my house. The windows shook from his distress. I tried to reassure him but he refused to look my way.


That evening, he dove into the roast as it came out of the oven and ran off with the baguette. Before falling asleep he devoured the butter. He began to howl at 4 am and tried to escape out the window. I did everything I could to stop him.


I advised the teenager in the house not to get too attached to him, admitting “we’re not going to be able to keep him.”


But my mother gave me contradicting advice: “Love him more.”


I put away his food and water bowls and fed him by hand. Kibble by kibble. After 16 weeks, he deemed to look me in the eyes. I was overwhelmed by what I saw. In one fleeting moment, he’d made it all worthwhile. But, alas, life isn’t a Disney film.


He dragged me through streets in the middle of traffic, peed on prized flower beds, intimidated female dogs and puppies, and couldn’t care less when people screamed at me in rage. His entitlement was all embracing, making him feel like he ruled like a king wherever he went. He wore his name well … Clovis, the first king of France. He disappeared at night. He ran away. And once came home in a taxi—I can still see him looking so cool, leaning up against the car door!


It took him a long time to finally accept my rules. It took me a long time to understand his needs. But in the end, we loved each other like a couple of nuts.


I taught him to sit pretty. To bow. To be gentle. To be polite with my parents and kind with children. To wipe all four paws when he came in. That made everyone laugh. The more I taught him, the more our relationship bloomed. He became a proud “dog gentleman”. He was truly happy.


He taught me to be patient. Not to shout. To clearly express my needs. To be consistent. He taught me to trust. To let go. To be permissive. To stop wanting to be perfect. He helped me become a better person.


At Christmas, with people squeezing into the armchairs around the tree, he came to complain, with his nose on my lap. I thought he was jealous, that he was trying to get into his favourite place—on the best armchair in the house. I scolded him. In reality, he probably couldn’t contain his pain.


When we still had so much life ahead of us, his diagnosis fell like a bombshell. Cancer. Spread to all his organs. I went to pick him up from the veterinary clinic. He was waiting for me with a shaved stomach. My invincible giant seemed suddenly vulnerable.


We went to the cottage. I freed him from his harness, leash and medal-decorated collar. He slept in my bed and ate everything he wanted. Each day, I looked at him for signs—without knowing what I was really after. On the morning that he stayed out lying in the snow, without moving, I called the vet’s office to make the appointment, the one we never come back from. On the way there, looking through the rear-view mirror, I searched for more signs … those of a miraculous remission. But my dear Clovisseau could no longer eat.


Dr Anne-Marie arrived in the tiny examination room with the fatal dose in hand. I couldn’t reassure him. Ever faithful to his true nature, Monsieur Clovis tried to escape through the window.


This time, I would have given everything to help him get away.


Photo 1: Clovis doing what he loves most
Photo 2: A moment of pure happiness for Josée and Clovis on vacation in Prince Edward Island.


Credits: Josée Larivée



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