Isn’t it nice when the pieces of a puzzle click into place?
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Clementine, the Catahoula Leopard/Hound-mix, seemed to be missing a piece from her life’s puzzle for most of her life. Dropped off as a 3-year-old stray near New Orleans, Louisiana, the dog stayed in the shelter for four months before being evacuated to Texas due to an impending storm.
Hurricane Ida slammed into the Gulf coast shortly after, but Clementine was already off to her new life! While living at the Tri-City Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in Cedar Hill, Texas, the dog was adopted out twice to different families. Sadly, neither of those adoptions stuck; it turns out Clementine does not get along with smaller pets, and she had too much energy for the second family.
Meanwhile, Captain Robert Moree of the Cedar Hill Fire Department wanted to add a fire dog to the station for a few years. He’d just read a study about how dogs help firefighters cope with the stress and trauma of their jobs, and he was eager to give the study a real life trial run! After clearing it with the chief and other firefighters, he and a few colleagues swung by the shelter. As soon as they met Clementine, they were smitten!
“They introduced us to Clementine,” Captain Moree recalled. “She took to us, and we took to her – instantly. Later that day, after we cleared another alarm, my Driver/Engineer, Bryan Wallen, and I decided to go get her.”
Captain Moree officially adopted Clementine, but she definitely belongs to every person in the fire house. She loves to cuddle with the firefighters in between calls, and she is always nearby whenever anyone is preparing food. She has accomplished their goal of reducing stress, too.
“Some nights we come back and have difficult things to deal with,” said Captain Moree. “She’ll come over and put her head in our laps. She does as much for us as we do for her.”
Clementine rides on the truck when the firefighters go out on calls. She howls at the sirens and makes them laugh, even during difficult evenings. She’s a natural fire dog, and she’s helping her people cope with their stressful job day and night.
“As firefighters, we’re typically thought of as the ‘macho guys,’ but the things we experience leave a lasting impact on us, and, at times, it can be hard to share our emotions after responding to some tough situation,” Captain Moree explained. “Clementine not only makes the station feel more like home during our 24-hour shifts but also offers a positive, constant boost to morale and keeps us excited to come to the station.”
Clementine has made such an amazing journey from rescue dog to hero dog, she was named Dog of the Year Award at the 2022 ASPCA Humane Awards!
All of the pieces in Clementine’s puzzle fit together, in the end! Our only question is, who rescued whom?
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