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Depot dog’s memory lives

Artist Dawn Weimer embraces her sculpture of well-loved Fort Collins character Annie.

For 60 years, the grave of Annie the Railroad Dog

has testified to the loyalty of a polite little mutt that inspired generations of dog-lovers born long after her death in 1948.

Adopted during the Great Depression by the C&S Railway crew, Annie became an animal celebrity during her life at the Fort Collins railroad depot.

Railroad worker Chris Demuth picked up Annie, bone- thin but burstingly pregnant, during a stop on the Eastern Plains and brought her back to Fort Collins where she became the sole exception to the depot’s no-dogs policy.

When Annie died, the railroad crew buried her in the rail yard and put up a headstone, “From the C&S Men to Annie Our Dog, 1934-1948.” Decades later, when city officials considered moving or eliminating the grave during the depot’s renovation, Annie’s defenders swiftly moved to get historic landmark designation.

When Loveland sculptor Dawn Weimer heard Annie’s story, she decided to create a tribute to the dog. Digging through period artifacts, she and her husband, Tom Wei mer, found only one photograph of Annie. In the picture, Demuth’s daughter, Loretta, embraced the dog.

“I don’t remember how we got in contact with her, but we found that girl, only of course by then she was an older lady,” said Tom Weimer, Dawn’s spouse and business manager.

Loretta Demuth Burdette described Annie as a sweetheart. Annie seemed to comprehend her exceptional status, waiting against the wall until someone beckoned her to be petted.

For years, Fort Collins residents told visitors that Annie licked the tears from the faces of weeping soldiers returning from World War II, and that some disembarking passengers hailed Annie before greeting their own families.

Perhaps the weeping GI story is apocryphal, but Loretta Burdette wept when she saw Weimer’s sculpture.

“She grabbed hold of that bronze dog and cried,” Tom Weimer said.

Dawn Weimer made 35 castings of Annie. The best- known is in front of the Fort Collins regional public library, where Annie permanently offers a paw to visitors. When the statue was unveiled, the library also organized the popular Annual Annie Walk and Pet Fest, a 1.5-mile dog walk celebrating its 11th anniversary this August. Participants walk from the library to Annie’s grave at the train depot.

Source: Denver Post


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