by Carol Randall


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 18 month old Rottweiler. I didn’t realise that I could fall so hard and fast for a dog.

At the age of eight I contracted Polio, which completely paralysed 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 I 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 I did my homework beforehand in order to find a dog that met my requirements — young adult, gentle, not rambunctious — to name a few.

Clancy and Carol

Although not a Shepherd, Clancy (not her name at the time) was a very mature dog for her age and without a history of behavioural 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.

It is now 2005, 10 and a half years later, and Clancy and I both have more difficulty getting about. Arthritis and hip displysia have settled in her bad leg making her “bunny hop” often while getting about. That does not stop her however in following me everywhere and wanting to “help” me whatever the chore may be.

Clancy carries Mum’s purse.

Many years ago, my crutches were replaced by a scooter for most of my ambulating. Then four years ago I broke my leg and found it more difficult to do personal chores. From day one Clancy has followed me everywhere. Whether it is following me in the house or running or laying beside my scooter, she can 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 thought 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, such as a slipper or clothes as most dogs do, and by nature a Rottweiler is not a retriever.

However, today she is most willing and happy to retrieve whatever I ask of her — 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, or retrieve the tv remote, an item from another room or even my crutches.

Since Clancy has developed her new skills we have done many demos. Besides the ones with the Obedience Club, we have been to several schools, YMCA, Wheels to Meals, Kindness Club, church groups and other senior activities. As members of River Valley Obedience we belong to a Hospital Visitation team that visit the Veterans, patients at the Rehabilitation Centre and seniors at some of the nursing homes.

Clancy at a school.

Clancy is a very personable dog. She may come on rather strong at times, as in barking when a person first comes into the yard, but soon she is nuzzling you or placing her bum on your feet. She always moves automatically, without commands, when I am walking or scootering — never in a position where she might impede my way. As with any dog that has a high drive, she is always eager to chase a ball or play with her favourite squeaky toy.

At the malls she has 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 will always “stare” at you asking for permission to proceed.

Clancy often surprises me by knowing exactly what I want even before I ask 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 am experiencing some physical difficulties I often find her standing there with that look that seems to ask, “How best can I help you, Mum?”

Besides being my “assistance” dog, she is my best friend and constant companion.

Clancy, you will always be the love of my life.

Carol Randall resides in Fredericton, New Brunswick. You can find more information on Carol and Clancy by visiting and Please send comments on this story to