Tribute to Sir Charles

November 18, 2010Pastor Nancy 5 Comments »

Sir Charles
October 2, 1999-November 9, 2010

I didn’t think I was old and I certainly wasn’t alone. And yet – there he was – cute, little, spotted. One who would become known as Sir Charles was attempting to get out of the cardboard box.

You see, I had told my kids that when I was old and if I was alone, I would like a Dalmatian puppy. Jennifer found a “good deal” south of New Lexington, OH and picked up a little Dalmatian puppy in November 1999. Naming was difficult – the easy “Spotty” was ruled out for it had been used by my husband’s family for their puppy when he was young. Other names were considered and discarded. The one that stuck was “Sir Charles”. Of course we had fun with that name because his nickname was Chuck. When training him to do the mandatory Conley dog tricks, he was given strange commands. If we wanted him to sit up, we would give “the” command – Up Chuck. Or when we wanted him to lay down, the command was “Ground Chuck.” He had no idea why we all laughed when he did the tricks correctly.

Our daughter, Melissa, got a dog, Bob, the same fall that we got Charlie. We took the two dogs to obedience class together. Somehow they both passed, but were at the bottom of their class because we didn’t have the discipline to practice their moves enough.

Granddaughters came along and Sir Charles was there to protect them. They could pull anything that was sticking out or lay down on him and use him as a pillow. He tolerated so much!

During Sir Charles’ lifetime, I served three United Methodist Churches. Charles became a fixture at church. He loved being the center of attention for children’ moments, picnics in the parking lot, and prayer circles during small groups. The last time he was a sermon illustration was very recently. I spoke of how he always wanted to have his eyes on me. He was comfortable in a large group where people fussed over him as long as he could see me. He got very scatter-brained if he didn’t know where I was. When we were home and he went outside, he would always search for me when he came in the house. My point was, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had a faith where we wanted to constantly have our eyes on God – the One who provides all our needs? And we would search diligently for Him immediately when we lost our focus.

Charlie was often under my desk at the office. Whether at home or the office, he would sleep with his head resting on one of my feet. He wanted to make sure he knew when I moved, so he could move too. He was there when counseling was going on and his presence helped diffuse some tense situations. He began visited nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities with me. There were a few with whom he visited that made lasting memories for me. Charlie visited Charlie (a dog-loving retired pastor) at St. Luke’s and brightened both of their days. We discovered there that Charlie (the dog) didn’t like elevators. After that we used the stairs! Many patients went to Woodlawn for therapy and enjoyed visits from Sir Charles. Nancy, John, and John and their families were among those who loved visits from Sir Charles while at Aultman Woodlawn. Visits continued for Anne’s dad, John, at his home. Often while making nursing home calls, people would call from their rooms – “could you bring that dog in here?” And visits to Shelbi, when her little body was being taken over by cancer, helped her smile.

At Church of the Lakes he was a special visitor in the preschool. Of course the first comment was “It’s a fire dog!” or “he’s from 101 Dalmatians”. He spent a lot of time under my desk. The kids would look in to see if he was there when they came into the building. One special little girl from a foreign country was scared stiff of dogs. Each day when her dad brought her to school, dad said hi to Charlie, but the little girl cowered against the opposite wall. When Charlie came in at Christmas time in his Santa suit and all the kids were gathered around him, the little girl got up the courage to touch him from the back reaching in between other students who were loving him. Soon she looked forward to the days when Charles would come out from under my desk and greet her in the hallway. Her dad came in one day and said to me, “thanks for having him here. Our little girl told some friends over the weekend that she had a ‘dog friend’ at school.”

Even those who don’t care for dogs (including both a colleague and a friend from Texas), thought Sir Charles was the best! And of course I agreed.

Charlie lost his ability to jump on the bed or get into the car without help. He was diagnosed with Cushings disease and treatment was begun. Other medical issues came to play and he no longer had his happy tail or lively spirit. Life became a chore. We released him from this life on Tuesday morning, November 9. While there are constant theological arguments about whether dogs go to heaven, a friend sent me a book called Dog Heaven – which posits that there is a place just for dogs. It’s filled with kids and dog biscuits in all sorts of cute shapes. For those who’ve known and loved a great dog, it’s a very comforting thought. I’ve had at least one dog in my life ever since I was five years old. I knew losing Charlie would be harder than the others because of the relationship we had and how much time we spent together – and it was! But I’m a better person because of the unconditional love that Charlie gave to me and to others.

Thanks, Sir Charles, for the memories!

5 Responses to this entry

  • Deb Whisler Says:

    We have also had the discussion of pets in heaven. How could they not be!!! Many have been angels in disguise don’t you think! Who else but God would plan for the loving pet that gets someone through tough times. Now that might be an interesting sermon!

  • Bryan George Says:

    Sir Charles was a fantastic presence at Church of the Lakes and he will be missed. Your story about the little girl who was afraid of dogs could be woven into a sermon as Sir Charles gentle nature enabled her to trust. Thanks for your story. Now you have to work on new ones with “Baby cross”…. I wonder how long the “baby” will last when he is 90 pounds ! 🙂

  • Sally Conley-Oyster Says:

    Hey Sis! You wrote a beautiful tribute to Sir Charles, aka Charlie Barley to me. Now I am sitting here, bawling my eyes out. That was the way it was for me when I had to put Mandy down; I still miss her! Mom and I have had this discussion about dogs in heaven many times. We have both said (tongue in cheek, of course)that if there are no dogs and cats in heaven, then we don’t want to go there.

    Whenever I dog sat for you guys, whether I was at the computer or watching tv, Charlie was literally on top of me! He would crawl under the computer desk , on top of my feet. If I moved, he was instantly alert. He never barked at me when I came in the door (he didn’t have to; Bob made enough noise for both of them) and he was always glad to see me. Rest in peace, Chucky; you are missed!
    Love you always and forever, Sal

  • Laurene Says:

    Nancy, what a beautiful tribute. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sure it has not only been hard for you, but for others in the family. I really liked “YOUR POINT” of the article about us wanting to have our eyes on God and wanting to feel his presence close by, just like Sir Charles wanted to feel your presence close by.

  • Linda Says:

    I too am an animal lover, and I know what it is like to lose a pet who has been part of our family. Our first animal, a little black fox terrier named Debbie Dog lived to be almost 18 years old. Our first beagle, Beth E. Beagle (named after our daughter’s best friend), lived to be 15 years old. They are such an example of unconditional love. It is wonderful to come home to find them looking out the window to see us come up the walk. God certainly blessed your family and so many other people with Sir Charles’life. I wish I could have known him. Thank you for sharing your story. God Bless You.

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