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Our Vanguard greeter: So long Charlie, we'll miss you


It's never easy to lose a pet. Vanguard reporter Eric Bourque writes about how we're sad to say goodbye to Charlie, known to many of you as the Vanguard cat. 


This is a sad time for us here at the Vanguard, as we’ve had to say goodbye to our beloved Charlie.

For those who don’t know, Charlie was the big orange-and-white cat that lived in our office the past few years and spent much of his time outside the front door of our building.

Charlie didn’t seem to be feeling well lately so Corrie Bain, Charlie’s owner, and I took him to the vet on Wednesday, May 9. At first it looked like he would be okay. They were going to keep him for a couple of hours, do what they needed to do and then call me to let me know when I could pick him up.

I came back to the Vanguard office around 10 a.m., let my co-workers know what was going on and assumed that by lunchtime or so Charlie would be back in our office, that he would be fine and that everything would return to normal.

But then Corrie arrived, saying she had heard from the vet. It was bad news. A closer examination of Charlie had revealed that his problem was, in fact, serious. Charlie was suffering, the vet said, and there was little hope he would get better. We didn’t want him to hurt anymore. The decision was made to put Charlie down.

It’s heartbreaking to think Charlie won’t be around anymore. He had become an unofficial mascot of sorts for the Vanguard. Judy Belliveau, who works at our front desk, would describe him to people as our greeter.

Charlie – who would have turned eight years old in June – first came to the Vanguard in 2013. Corrie had just recently moved next to our building. Charlie was out one day and found us. Our editor at the time, the late Fred Hatfield – a longtime lover of cats – would see him hanging outside his office window. He invited him in for a visit.

Charlie quickly became a regular here. We would give him treats. He would find a chair in our office and have a nap. When the day was over, we would put him out and he would go back to Corrie’s place to spend the night.

For the first couple of years, we wouldn’t see much of Charlie during the winter since he would stay indoors at home, but when it started getting warmer he would begin showing up once more. Seeing him visit our office again was a sure sign of spring and it was always great to have him back.

Eventually Charlie moved into our office on a full-time basis. Corrie remained his official owner, but she said we could keep him if we wanted him. She was moving out of town and knew Charlie liked hanging out here. She still runs a business not far from our office.

On more than one occasion, my colleague Tina Comeau said Charlie seemed to be the most popular "person" on the block. Tina became our editor after Fred Hatfield’s retirement and eventually moved into his old office. From there, she could see how many people were stopping by to say hi to Charlie, to pet him, to rub his tummy.

Occasionally, people would come into our office and drop off bags of food for Charlie. One woman also recently had given him some toys. To them – and to everyone who took an interest in Charlie and was kind to him – we say thank you.

On a personal level, Charlie was the closest thing I ever had to a pet. I’ll always remember how – especially when it was stormy or too cold for him to be out – he would often curl up on the chair next to my desk, close enough that I could reach over and pet him, which I often did. On weekends, year-round, I always made a point of coming in Saturday and Sunday mornings to check up on him.

The weekend routine will be different now, of course, but it’s the empty chair next to my desk that’s going to be harder to get used to.

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