top of page

TREES, PLEASE: Trees and Dogs: A Personal History

Sometimes people want to know how I got into trees. Here is my story.

Kroc Estate.

By Tim Clancy.

My interest in trees began as a young boy in Fabius, New York. It was there that I would climb my grandfather's crabapple tree each time we visited. I would watch the tree go through its seasonal changes, which fascinated me. I also remember a spruce that my grandfather planted to commemorate my birth. I was always excited to see how much it grew over the years, at times seeming to mimic my own growth.

My first dog was payment for raking up leaves from a neighbor's maple tree. Raking leaves was almost a rite of passage for those of us living in central New York. Once the job was complete, and the leaves were all bagged up, I chose my new friend. My brother and I named him "Barker" because, well, he barked so loud for a little puppy. (We were ten and eight, so that name made all the sense in the world to us.) Papa Clancy thought a more dignified name was in order. He suggested J. Barker Dogsworth, and from then on, he was known as J.B. He was my companion as I delivered papers on the tree-lined streets of Syracuse, New York.

Flash forward to 1990 when I found myself as the landscape maintenance superintendent for Montagna de la Paloma, otherwise known as the Kroc estate, as it was the home of Joan B. Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc of McDonald's fame. Besides thousands of shrubs, hundreds of roses, and a couple acres of grass, there were approximately 1000 trees. I worked for the landscape company that installed the landscape, and because I had previous experience working with cranes, I was designated the foreman of the tree installation crew. Once again the opportunity to be close to trees kindled a keen desire to study them and understand them better.

This pursuit of knowledge led me to seek certification as an arborist. I took a class from an arborist who taught us the material covered by the certification test. He had a lasting influence on me. He made it clear that he would be teaching us both what we needed to know to pass the test and what was really relevant, since he thought the test was worthless from an arboricultural perspective.

In July 1991, I passed the test and became a certified arborist. It was then that I realized that, while I was certified, my knowledge of trees was quite limited. For the next fifteen years, I worked with the trees at the Kroc estate. This was a fabulous opportunity; the knowledge I gained from working with, and caring for, the trees was, in my opinion, far superior to what I might have gained from any book. (Don’'t get me wrong though, as I truly value books and have a large library of tree books myself.)

Reeni relaxing in the arbor at the Kroc Estate. Photo by Tim Clancy

Mrs. Kroc was fond of dogs and rescued many while I worked for her. The last dog she rescued was a poor sick puppy of barely six months. By that time, my involvement with the estate was not limited to the landscape. Mrs. Kroc asked me to make sure the puppy was well looked after. I would take the puppy to the vet for treatments, and she would follow me around the estate as I went about my daily business. Mrs. Kroc bestowed upon me the honor of naming the puppy. I named her Irene Adler, and we called her Reeni.

Not long after this, Mrs. Kroc passed away and the question of what to do with Reeni’s final rescue arose. Without a moment’s hesitation, I made it known I would take Reeni home and care for her. From that day on, she accompanied me almost everywhere I went and was my faithful companion until she passed in 2015.

Trees and dogs, that's what I am talking about.

bottom of page