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Introducing Charlie


Many of you know my white lab Charlie. No one has ever been born with a kinder, purer heart. Charlie is a service dog, and his prime job is to hang out with the kids at functions of the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. Charlie has made numerous appearances at functions in Sandy Valley, and he is a regular at the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings. (Do you remember the T.V. show Cheers and how everyone would shout “Norm!” when he entered the bar? Well that is how it is when Charlie enters the Pioneer Saloon. I am pretty much ignored.)
On July 16, 2015, Charlie celebrated his 3rd birthday. I have had him ever since he was 7 weeks old when I brought him to Kingston Ranch. That day I sent an email to the office and told them that I was taking two weeks off for family leave in order to stay home with the new baby.
We bonded during that time as Charlie began to understand words and phrases. I have been talking to him ever since, and he understands just about everything I say. Not only has Charlie paid attention to me over the last two and a half years, but I have paid close attention to him. Often when we are about to embark on one of Charlie’s favorite adventures (horseback ride, bike ride, a walk, jogging or going anywhere in the car), I tell Charlie that I want to talk to him, and he sits down in front of me staring into my face attentively. Then I ask, “Do you want to go to the vet and have a shot?” Charlie stares at me without moving (which means no). Then I ask, “Do you want me to take you to the dog pound for being so naughty?” (Again, Charlie remains motionless.) Then I ask, “Do you want to go on a horseback ride?” At that, Charlie leaps toward me excitedly and plows into me with an excited grin on his face. That means yes.
In the summer of 2013, I received an urgent telephone call from the President of the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation who explained that their traditional camp facilities at Torino Ranch had been smoked out by the Mount Charleston fire. He wondered if they could bring 200 kids and adults to Kingston Ranch for four days the following week (and then another group of 200 for four days the week after that). Having hosted kids’ camps previously, I said yes without hesitation. During camp, the kids lavished attention on Charlie. Over and over, they would throw tennis balls into the lake so Charlie would swim out and retrieve them. Even kids who were afraid of dogs learned to love Charlie. That November, at NCCF’s Annual Gala at the Bellagio, Charlie and I were jointly honored with NCCF’s Annual Community Angel Award. We returned the following year in order to bestow the award on the 2014 honoree. Charlie is the only dog I know who has been on stage in the Grand Ballroom at the Bellagio Hotel. The NCCF Board of Directors thereafter voted to make Charlie the Foundation’s official mascot.
Charlie and I will be attending the NCCF Gala again this year on November 21‒always the last Saturday before Thanksgiving. (We get some interesting stares when Charlie parades through the casino in his NCCF service jacket and a bowtie.) The cost of this event is $250 per seat, but the money couldn’t go for a better cause. If you can attend, mention that you read this article, and you will get a free photo with Charlie. Go to
If you’d like Charlie to attend an event, especially one involving kids, just let me know. I might even come along and recite some cowboy poetry.