Charlie Vanhuss struggled to hold back the tears last week as he helped to dedicate a statue of his beloved late dog “Lassie,” placed in the Charlie VanHuss Park next to city hall in Ravenna.
“She was a devoted friend and loving companion. I miss her,” he said.
Lassie was nearly 18 years old when she and Charlie went for one of their regular daily walks last summer. Charlie said it was hot and maybe they walked a little farther than they usually do. He stopped to talk to a neighbor and Lassie went on around to the back of Charlie’s house on Elm Street.
“She laid down next to the back steps and I believe she had a heat stroke,” Charlie said. “I didn’t want her to suffer so I knew she had to be put to sleep.”
Charlie said Lassie performed one more act of love as he was taking her to the animal shelter at Cow Creek.
“She kissed my arm in her final loving gesture,” Charlie said. “And that was what Lassie was all about, love.”
Charlie and Lassie’s friend, former Ravennna resident Sherry Stokes Kraus, had a true to life statue made of Lassie and it was dedicated last Friday after being placed in the center of Charlie’s park. Mrs. Kraus wrote an article about Charlie, Lassie and the statue and asked that it be included in this story. Here it is, just as she wrote it”
Tribute to a True Friend
By Sherry Stokes Kraus
There are few things we treasure in life more than that special bond between man and his dog – or, in this case, two men and their dog. This newspaper has reported previously about Lassie, a Sheltie mix, and her human masters, Charlie VanHuss and Ralph McClanahan, Sr. Lassie came into their lives with an unknown past in need of a home and someone to love. From that fateful day in 1994 when Ralph opened his door to find a forlorn little stray, she brought joy to the lives of two long-time friends, Charlie and Ralph. Until Ralph’s death two years ago, Lassie had a well established routine where she spend the night at Ralph’s house on Fifth Street, Ravenna – then was picked up by Charlie after his morning coffee at the Wig-Wam for the short walk to his house on Elm Street. After spending the day with Charlie, she would be escorted back to Ralph’s for the evening. For months after Ralph’s passing, Lassie insisted on visits back and forth between her two homes. Lassie passed away last August at the age of 18.In recognition of this little dog and her special relationship with two life-long Ravenna citizens, Ravenna Mayor Charles Crowe conducted a ceremony at the Charles E. VanHuss Park on Wednesday morning, May 5, to dedicate a memorial to Lassie. A Sheltie dog statuary and memorial stone were contributed to the park by Sherry Stokes Kraus, a dog lover, Ravenna native and long time friend of Charlie VanHuss. The memorial stone reads as follows:
“Rest well our faithful friend and companion. You brought joy to the lives
of two old geezers, Charlie VanHuss and Ralph McClanahan, Sr.”
Perhaps, not surprisingly, Ravenna Town Clerk Kim Parks reports that her new Sheltie puppy, Penny, is very partial to Charlie.