By Sue Botos
There was one senior citizen who seemed to be getting all the attention at Harbor Court last week.
The distinguished fellow was sharp-looking, with his white hair and his turtleneck sweater decorated with a Canadian maple leaf. He posed for pictures, and was even interviewed by a local TV station. But when it came time for a break, this senior preferred a biscuit and a quick walk outside to coffee or tea.
The guest of honor was Clifford the golden retriever, who was paying a visit to some fellow seniors who are making sure he gets the care and TLC he needs after being found abandoned on Lake Road in Avon Lake.
“I heard about Clifford from a friend, and we thought it would be good to get the seniors involved,” commented Kathi Greco, director of community relations for Harbor Court. She said that the senior living facility, along with its sister residence, the Rockport Retirement Community, will be selling “Paws for Clifford” through March 16 during normal business hours. Greco said that $200 of the $500 goal has already been raised.
Proceeds from the fundraisers will go toward Clifford’s medical care at Avon Lake Animal Clinic, where he was taken by Love-A-Stray, a nonprofit animal rescue group based in Avon Lake.
“He’s come a long way,” commented Love-A-Stray’s Karen Kitchen, who was Clifford’s escort for the day. She said that when the dog, estimated to be 10 years old, was found he was emaciated, covered with fleas and had infections in both ears and his eyes, which were swollen shut. His sweater, covers bare skin on his back where hair had fallen out due to poor nutrition and skin infections.
Kitchen also noted that Clifford, named after another favorite Love-A-Stray golden retriever, had never been neutered and could have been used as a breeding dog, who was then dumped after fulfilling his duties. She said this operation would be performed as soon as the dog was feeling better.
Connie Field, director of dogs for Love-A-Stray, commented in a statement, “Clifford was a mess. He is receiving excellent veterinary care by Dr. (Jason) Lamb of Avon Lake Animal Clinic and will be a resident at the clinic for at least two weeks until we can get the infections under control, his skin cleared up and some weight on him.”
A typical golden retriever, appetite seemed to be no problem for Clifford, who happily took a treat from resident Marge Tampson. “I love dogs. I used to have an English Cocker Spaniel,” Tampson said as other residents in the Harbor Court living room looked on, reminiscing about their own pets.
As for Clifford’s future, Kitchen said that since he has not been claimed, he will be placed in a foster home after he is healed, and will await adoption. “But we have a feeling he will be adopted soon,” she predicted.
There’s also a good possibility that Clifford may have found that home at Harbor Court. “We’re considering adopting him. We’re going to introduce him to more of the residents and we’ll bring him for a visit to our memory-care unit,” said Greco, adding that contact with dogs has been proved beneficial to people suffering from memory loss.
Despite his painful experience, Clifford still had a tail wag for all of his well-wishers. “The residents at The Harbor Court are reaching out to help a fellow senior. The only difference is, this particular senior gent happens to have four legs,” said Greco.
Aside from the paw print sale, Harbor Court and Rockport are accepting monetary donations for Clifford’s care. These can be dropped off during regular business hours or mailed to The Harbor Court, 22900 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, OH 44116. Please make checks payable to Love-A-Stray and write “Clifford” in the memo area. Supply donations for Love-A-Stray are also being accepted. These items include bleach, fleece blankets, antibacterial wipes, paper towels, leashes and toys.