Great Dames


My husband’s grandparents really loved dogs. Truly, I think they may have loved their dogs a little more than they loved their kids, but don’t tell my father-in-law that. When Nancy (the grandmother) was in the later throes of Alzheimer’s, I would sit with her and she would repeat three stories, obviously three of the most significant moments of her life, and one of those stories was when they got their first dog.

That dog is somewhat of a legend in our family for saving the life of my father-in-law. The dog was named Charlie-She because they thought she was a he, but upon discovering the mistake, instead of doing the obvious thing of changing the name to a feminine version like Charlotte or Charlene, they simply tacked the female pronoun onto the end. Well one day, the gate to the from the back to the front yard was accidently left open. Little toddler Brad spared no time in making his escape. Nancy looked out the kitchen window just in time to see him making his way to the street as a roadster was speeding around the bend. Charlie-She wasted no time in grabbing young Brad by his knickers and pulling him to safety. A great dog.

She was the first in a series of German Shepherds, all subsequently named Gretchen, followed by a couple of Golden Retrievers, the Maggies. Maggie I was funny. She thought she was queen of the lake. In the morning, she’d trot up to the village where the few shops and cafes are located, get fawned over and fed by visitors and locals alike, and then in the afternoon, one of the resort employees would usually escort her home in a golf cart. Oh, how I wish I had a photo of her sitting in the cart, proud as a peacock! She knew she had a good thing going! A smart dog.

All of them-great and ordinary alike- have been immortalized on the wall of “Great Dames” at the cabin. I’m not sure it’s entirely normal for a family to dedicate an entire wall of photos to their dogs, but that’s how it is around here. They’re not just dogs, they’re family. And in the case of Charlie-She, a hero to boot.

And I think there’s just enough room at the bottom to add a photo of the newest addition to the family!


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