Anne Hathaway's Brown Dogs

Anne Hathaway’s Brown Dogs

Experts have debated for years whether or not Shakespeare liked dogs. Bickering about same broke out not long ago in the pages of the New York Times Book Review. Some say the fact that only one dog (named Crab!) has ever appeared in a play was proof enough that the bard didn’t take kindly to canines.

Scone by Scone dog Hattie by Deedie Runkel
Cappy playing with his toy.

Here at the Inn named after Shakespeare’s wife, there has always been a resident brown dog…on the sofa. Most guests who cross our threshold find the scene a fetching one. Only once have we heard a disgruntled guest worry that the hair and oil from our dear and darling dog would ruin their theatre attire. Not surprisingly, that person decided not to return. But she’s the only one we know of.

So no disputes regarding our commitment to chocolate labs in the eons to come are likely. Nonetheless, identifying exactly which one was in residence when will prove challenging.

Let’s pretend we’re sitting around the dining room table finishing our coffee and scarfing up scone crumbs, and I’ll introduce our three Stars of the Sofa.

Hattie came cross-country with us in 2002, and hopped up where she left off once the moving truck got here with the sofas. A product of two Runkel relatives’ dogs, she was no bigger than my big hand when we got her. Her provenance meant that she should have a family name, which is something we believe in. From the Beeson side of the family tree, we plucked my grandmother Harriette’s nickname, Hattie.

Scone by Scone dog Hattie by Deedie Runkel
What’s better than Hattie taking a nap on the couch while Mom and Dad ARE away?

Hattie’s Oregon career as an Inn dog thankfully signaled the end to her maternal achievements back East, which had yielded sixteen puppies over several years. Guests were now her primary focus and she went to great lengths to be sure each one’s visit was memorable. Whether it was recognizing a piece of sausage languishing on a plate, or nudging a lonely elbow for a quick petting, her instinct for service got high marks from all.

Out for our usual brisk walk one day, suddenly her pace slowed. Two days later, she was gone. She rests in peace under the big oak tree at the top of the park, by the creek where she swam nearly every day. Grief abounded for our gentle girl of twelve.

Finding the next dog seemed too daunting. How could anyone replace Hat? Craig’s List did prove fertile ground for finding available dogs, though none sounded like they could be ours. Until Scrappy turned up. His owner brought him for the interview with us, so she could determine if we were fit to have him. A beautiful chocolate lab, he had been tied up all day while she worked.

After much back and forth, we were chosen as Scrappy’s new owners, despite his owner’s fears he wouldn’t adjust to being inside. When she dropped him off, he went directly to the sofa and popped up. We decided Cappy was a better name for a handsome indoor, sofa dog. Amazingly enough, Cappy had all the same instincts of his predecessor in the guest services area. So much so, that guests mistook him for Hattie. His death at thirteen (or so) came slowly and left us in dog despair, unable to even think about replacing him. We held a family service for him on the hill in the garden under the shaggy bark tree (not far from where Steve the cat rests). Ramona (10) wrote his epitaph:

Happy Cappy Runkel
Tough on squirrels,
Soft on the heart.

Months later, star guest Jill Fugaro sent us an email string a mile long that propelled us toward a three-year-old chocolate lab in rural Northern California who needed a new home. Canelo, which means cinnamon in Spanish, is our first bilingual dog and by far the largest, weighing in at 110 or so. Arriving at Christmas time along with herds of people, he adjusted well to life outside the tiny laundry room where he’d previously been housed.

Guests are screened more carefully by Canelo, but ultimately befriended in every case. He’s scone-friendly and more than willing to be petted, but not likely to be found on the sofa except in rare instances.

Whatever would we do without a chocolate lab, we ask ourselves.

Deedie Runkel and Canelo

Anne Hathaway’s Brown Dogs

Anne Hathaway’s Brown Dogs