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Barb Clarke writes about 'Stupid Dog Love' in Chicken Soup for the Soul

By Celina Ip

Algonquin College professor Barb Clarke recently had her story 'Stupid Dog Love' published in Chicken Soup for the Soul's new release 'The Dog Really Did That?'. Pictured here, Clarke is reading a copy of the book in Janna's Gallery Cafe.

Algonquin College professor Barb Clarke recently had her story 'Stupid Dog Love' published in Chicken Soup for the Soul's new release 'The Dog Really Did That?'. Pictured here, Clarke is reading a copy of the book in Janna's Gallery Cafe.

Thanks to an eventful encounter with a black Labrador Retriever many years ago, Algonquin College professor Barb Clark is now a published author.

 

On Christmas Day of 2013, Clarke was driving through a neighbourhood in Petawawa when she spotted a lone black Labrador Retriever running through the street and jumping past cars as if he was trying to play fetch with the moving vehicles. Clarke had to slam on her brakes to prevent herself from hitting him.

Upon arriving at her brother’s house, Clarke was told by a few of his other guests that they nearly hit the same dog on their way in.

Feeling concerned about the dog’s safety and that he was in imminent danger, Clarke drove back to check up on the dog and see if he had any identifying information that could help her to reunite him with his owner.

Upon spotting the dog – who was still playing Frogger on the street – Clarke parked her car and motioned for him to jump inside. After finding no contact information for the seemingly lost canine, Clarke knocked on doors and asked around the neighbourhood to see if anyone could point her towards his rightful owners.

After being pointed in the direction of a few houses, Clarke found a house with dog prints scattered across the snow. As the dog eagerly ran towards the house, Clarke assumed it was his home, and not seeing any owners around but noticing the door was unlocked – she let him inside.

The following day, on Boxing Day, Clarke and her brother learned that the dog had been placed in the wrong home and he had made a complete mess of it.

Despite the disastrous circumstances, the story had a happy ending. The dog was soon reunited with his proper owner and the house damage was resolved through lawyers, insurance and the police.

“I found out afterwards that the owner of the dog had lost him and was searching for him for days,” said Clarke. “I felt really bad for the house owners though, since the dog had made a total mess of it. But I had great intentions as I really did believe the dog was at risk and I didn’t want to leave him outside as it was minus 30 degrees. As a dog owner myself, I would hope someone would take care of my pet if I lost it.”

In 2015, two years after the unfortunate yet comical series of events, the story still remained ingrained in Clarke’s memory and was one that she always shared with friends and family – whenever someone needed a good laugh.

At this point, Clarke wrote about that eventful Christmas day – with the story focusing on the dog’s lovable character and the humour of the situation – which she sent to Chicken Soup for the Soul’s online submission page, on a whim.

“I thought it was a good enough story in terms of the craziness of it, the complexity of it, and I think it was cathartic to write it and capture the essence of it on paper,” said Clarke.

Another two years after that, around February 2017, Clarke was unexpectedly contacted by Chicken Soup for the Soul and they expressed that they wanted to publish her story in their new book about dog stories.

Soon afterwards, Clarke received a package in the mail with the newly published “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Really Dig That?”. The book included a collection of 101 heartwarming tales about the many ways our mischievous canine companions surprise us, make us laugh, and touch our hearts. The real-life, personal stories focus on rescued and adopted dogs in particular. Among the collection was Clarke’s story about her encounter with that lovable black Labrador Retriever on Christmas Day of 2013, titled ‘Stupid Dog Love’.

Clarke said it’s a pretty exciting experience to have her story published, and she’s looking forward to sharing the book with her family and friends.

“I had forgotten I had written it when they contacted me about – so it was really fun and a huge surprise to have it published,” said Clarke. “It validates the interest factor of the story and the quality of the writing, so it feels good.”

Clarke added that the fateful Christmas encounter taught her to never again trust a Labrador Retriever to tell her where he lives, but that she’ll never stop loving dogs and helping them in any way she can.

“A lot of lessons were learned and I would approach things differently next time. But dogs, I'll always save dogs,” said Clarke.

cip@postmedia.com