The Inspiration for Charlie: A Love Story
By Barbara Lampert, author of Charlie: A Love Story
Charlie’s the kind of dog I dreamed about when I was a kid. The dog who would always be happy to see me, my best friend in the world, the dog I could tell all my secrets to, my very loyal confidante, who would love me more than anyone, no matter what.
Charlie came into my life when he was thirteen weeks old and I was grown up. But he was that dog of my dreams. From the moment I got him, I adored him. For his whole life, Charlie and I were attached at the hip.
For several years, I’d been keeping a gardening journal while landscaping our property in Malibu on almost an acre of land, and occasionally I would write about Charlie in my journal. But when he turned eleven years old and started having some health problems, within a short period of time my journal entries became more and more about him and less and less about gardening.
I was amazed at how Charlie dealt with his health problems. He seemed to have a very deep understanding of what was going on, and just about nothing got him down. He was both determined and joyful. Indomitable, and so wise. He was inspiring.
Even though I wanted to write about him mostly in the present, I couldn’t help thinking about him as a puppy. So I found myself writing about him when he was younger, too. I just wanted to be with him, think about him, and write about him. I knew that our time was limited.
Then in 2003, my husband David and I decided to take Charlie and Barney (our other Golden Retriever at the time) to San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito for five days, to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. One evening while we were sitting on the deck of our cottage, I read David some of my journal entries having to do with Charlie. David said it sounded as if I had the makings of a book. The more I thought about that, the more I agreed. So I pulled out all the entries that had to do with Charlie to look at them more closely.
At first I was hesitant to turn my journal into a book, because the writing was so personal and intimate, and because, being such a private person as well as a psychotherapist, I didn’t know if I’d be comfortable doing that. But my overriding thought then was that it would be Charlie’s story, that not only did I want to pay tribute to this magnificent dog, but also I felt that the way he handled life could be an inspiration to others, just as it was to me.
I knew that Charlie was not only a once-in-a-lifetime dog but also a once-in-a-lifetime being. And that ours was a once-in-a-lifetime relationship. I needed to write about him, and his story needed to be told.
Barbara Lampert is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in relationships. She’s been in private practice in Brentwood, California for over twenty years. She considers her work a calling and loves what she does. She has a doctorate in medical sociology and two master’s degrees – one in psychology and one in sociology. Barbara has adored dogs her whole life. They’re her passion! She notes that for a lot of people, their dogs are their best friends. She loves helping people know that’s ok – that a soul-satisfying relationship may be found with any being and needs to be treasured. Besides her love of dogs, Barbara is an avid gardener and finds herself gardening in much of her spare time. She sees her garden as a work of art. She loves being in nature – the miracle of growth, the ever-changing landscape, its beauty. Today Barbara lives happily in Malibu, California with her husband David (married twenty-eight years!) and their six-year-old Golden Retriever, Harry. Barbara hopes that Charlie: A Love Story will be a tribute not only to a magnificent dog but to all dogs everywhere. You can visit her website at www.charliealovestory.com.