My pet: Claire Cronin

Not only did 2019 see Claire Cronin release her beautifully sinister record ‘Big Dread Moon’, it also saw the goth-folk musician rescue two schipperkes – Bunny and Mira. Below, Cronin writes about how they came into her life and how life has changed since her family grew by two:

The Story of Bunny and Mira

Ezra and I rescued two older schipperkes in July, right after moving to Berkeley, California. We’d talked about getting a dog for a while, but our rental house in Georgia didn’t allow them. As soon as I landed in our new home, I started obsessively checking the websites of local animal rescues and shelters. 

One day, I was talking to Ezra’s friend (who was helping me paint a room from hideous purple to white) and he asked me what kind of dog I’d like to get. “A schipperke,” I said, but quickly explained to him that getting a schipperke was almost impossible. Because they’re an uncommon type of purebred dog, you’d have to pay thousands of dollars and travel to whatever distant city the puppies were available in. I’d been charmed by schipperkes since I was child, when I read a dog book with my siblings that listed all the breeds. I loved how schipperkes looked like little black foxes, their reputation for mischief, and their history as Belgium barge dogs. The name of the breed means “little captain.” 

A few hours after we finished painting the room, I started checking the usual dog sites (as was my compulsion), and decided to look on Craigslist in the pets section, even though I knew it was notorious for scams. To my great shock, a listing had just been posted that said someone in a nearby town needed to re-home a few schipperkes. I immediately emailed her (feeling that magic was at work) and began a chain of correspondence that lead to Ezra and I going to her house and choosing two older female schipperkes from a big group of neglected dogs. We’d meant to only take one, but I felt so bad for all the others and we thought that two dogs might be happier together. One of the dogs we chose, who I named “Bunny,” is a former show dog and the other, who Ezra named “Mira,” was bred. Both dogs had a few health issues that we’ve tried to work out, but they’re very sweet and seem pleased to have free range of our house and yard. 

Bunny and Mira have been my greatest, most constant friends since our move across the country. Bunny, as a former show business professional, is extroverted and loves attention. She still does a few tricks from her old days, like leaping onto things, rolling on her back in a special way, and clapping her front paws. Mira is more fearful and shy. She likes to stare at you from across the room until you implore her to come over. 

The dogs bring me a lot of joy and a measure of anxiety. I’m often worried about their wellbeing and I don’t like to leave them alone for too long. I definitely smile and laugh more because they’re around and I appreciate their very enthusiastic greeting every time I come inside the house or leave my bedroom. I also feel safer and more comforted when they’re with me and Ezra’s out. My mom told me that dogs can sense evil spirits and protect their owners from them, so maybe that’s why.

Bunny, Mira, and I love to watch TV and movies together at night, but I have to turn the volume down really low on horror films because sudden screams scare Mira. I have been watching with the subtitles on a lot.  

The dogs definitely like listening to us play music. They didn’t bark or make any sounds for the first month that we had them and I was worried that they’d been de-barked (a horrible procedure). Eventually though, they did start vocalizing, and I’d like to think that all my singing encouraged them. Now they stand on the front porch and bark at people who walk by, hoping they’ll come up to pet them. 

I’ve only been on one short tour since we’ve had the dogs, which was fine. I do worry about them missing me when I go away on longer trips! I’ll have to make it up to them with more dog park adventures and time sitting on my bed. 

‘Big Dread Moon’ is out now on Orindal Records

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