The Daily Digital Photo
Clayton, Spenser, Scooter, Sherman and Stanley: then and now

January 25, 2010

Clayton Kramer
1994? - January 16, 2010

We adopted Clayton from the SOS Beagle Rescue in August of 1995, just two days after we bought our first house. Linda let him out of his crate and he came right over to us and did a butt-up, securing a place in our hearts forever. He was one or two years old and a submissive and timid little boy. We were new dog owners and afraid or confused over just about everything. But we all got into the swing of things and everything settled down. Clayton was an only dog for a year. We had a large window bay in the living room, and whenever we'd leave the house Clayton would stand there looking out. Such guilt! So the next August we adopted Spenser (and two years after that, Scooter). Spenser proved to be such a challenge that in comparison, Clayton was easy. One day our neighbor called me at work. "Clayton got out of the fence," she said, "and he's frantically trying to get back in!" He wouldn't run off on his own, but if Spenser got loose, then Clayton would follow. Other than that, he could pretty much be off-leash. Not your typical beagle. About 98% of the time, I'd say, he was a laid back fellow. But every once in a while he'd suddenly "go mental." That's what we called it. "Clayton's going mental!" And the next thing you'd know he'd be fighting with Spenser. They had a number of fights, at least five I think, and Clayton lost each and every one of them.

Clayton was by far the most food-driven of any of the boys. Eating was his passion, his delight, and his beagle-given right. All you had to do was head towards the kitchen and he'd be up out of his bed or wherever, following you in hopes of a handout. Ironically though, he was the best-behaved at (our) dinner time. From day one he always went into another room while we ate. Of course when we were done he was first in line for after-dinner treats, and tended to the dishwasher prewash with great dedication. It was a lot of work, but he never complained. Clayton trained me into giving out carrots while I made dinner. He never missed a night. In 2001, Clayton developed severe back pain and spent seven weeks on crate rest. (He loved the crate for the rest of his life.) I just just been laid off following 9/11 and so I was able to take care of him the entire time. When the pain recurred it was finally diagnosed as a rare and, if not treated, deadly auto-immune disease called eosinophilic meningioencephalomyelitis. He had three or four relapses over the years but fortunately we nipped each episode in the bud and got him on steroids quickly. Then there was the time when Scooter bit off a chunk of his ear. He was such a good boy at the vet that they didn't need to knock him out in order to stitch it up. I found that little notch in his ear to be quite endearing.

Clayton's adoption listing said, "he's a happy go-lucky guy with a tail that never stops wagging" and that was true all his life. He liked to nap on the little rug in the hall near the stairs, and whenever I came downstairs his tail would start thumping with joy. I like to think it was joy, I like to think that he had a pretty joyful life. Lots of food, lots of love, lots of companionship. Lots of tail-thumping. Clayton was my first pet, my first dog, and the animal who taught me how to love animals. He will be in our hearts forever.

Laurie, Phillip, Sherman and Stanley