Charlie and Tootsie arrived together in 2004 and have stayed together, like an old married couple, ever since. They shared kibble, their dog beds and water. But the toys were all Charlie's.
Tootsie never cared that he would sit for hours with any one of his myriad toys hanging from his jowls. If he gets tired of holding it, he just puts it down and rests his chin on it. When it is time for a walk, Charlie chooses a toy to carry during the brief exercise.
As the honorary matriarch and patriarch of the dogs at Angel Ridge, the two larger-than-life co-habitants have been a virtual fixture. Even the volunteers who have been walking dogs the longest at AR cannot remember a time when Charlie and Tootsie were not there.
Hoping that the two would be adopted together kept them together but without a real home. The tall order to take on more than 200 pounds of dogs in one adoption was a handicap for the rotund pair and so they lived their lives as AR residents watching many other dogs come and go. Over the years, Charlie has grown fat(ter)—and even if you could not say the two were blissfully happy—they were unquestionably content.
They had each other. They were the very picture of an old married couple.
In early January, Tootsie passed away— leaving her big boy Charlie behind. A couple of days before Tootsie died, Charlie did not eat and he was especially antsy. He was sniffing her a lot and though he has a dog bed right next to her, he squeezed his hefty girth onto her bed where he panted, licked her, pressed against her and even stood over her at one point.
Charlie knew then that his one and only was going to be gone soon. Staff and volunteers have been worried about Charlie and have been spending additional time with him, showering him with treats and toys in an effort to prevent his big rottie-lab heart from breaking over his loss. Charlie has been enjoying the extra attention and has surprised everyone with how far he has been willing to go on dog walks.
Most of the time Charlie only takes a few hundred steps and then picks some patch of grass or spot in the sun in which to to flop and plop. That's when treats are used to lure him back to his pen, because when Charlie sits down, there is nothing short of a winch that will get him up.
It's Charlie's turn now for a chance to spend the rest of his golden years with a family. As a single, senior dog, Charlie requires little exercise though the benefits would be great for him. Having regular walks would help him shed some pounds and be more agile. Older kids would take to Charlie because he loves to be handled. Any healthy senior would thoroughly enjoy the companionship of Charlie, his smiling mug, his cartoon shape and his toy-toting habit.
Anyone interested in meeting our (sorry) Charlie should stop in at Angel Ridge to say hello. And when Charlie moves on to a new home and says goodbye to shelter life, a big bag of toys will be going with him.
Angel Ridge Animal Rescue
390 Old Hickory Ridge Road
Washington, PA 15301
Hours: noon to 5 p.m. Tues.-Sun