Brownie and Bro. Beautiful, Beloved Dogs Who Left Their Paw Prints on Our Hearts

Love is Love

Cherry Beach is a special place.

The dogs for sure love it, all those trees, the lake and the annual sole squirrel that taunts the dogs then scampers to safety… most times.

Cherry is also a place for friends and canine lovers alike to gather, saunter and converse. You’ll see many mobile communities making their rounds, chatting and sipping coffees with their canine sidekicks close by. There is no such thing as fair weather friends to the CB regulars, seasons pass casting light and shadows marking time and passages.

Ingrid Gadsden, (mother of Sophie and Ramsey) and Jim Doyle (father of Liberty) have been friends since 1996, back when CB was just a pretty landfill. CB was a field of trees, high weeds and wild flowers with one worn path around the circumference of the park.

Fun Fact: Ingrid and Jim were instrumental in getting CB designated as a legal off leash in the late 90’s. Thank you!


Unforgettable Mr Brownie in the words of Ingrid



Brownie was a beautiful mix of Bernese and perhaps collie or golden.

The first time I met him, at the Humane Society on River Street, I bent down to pet him and he leaned into my chest and rubbed his head against mine and sat down looking out into the distance of the cage we were in. From that moment on – we were a couple.

He’d won my heart. THS said he was 5 or 6 years old – turned out he was probably 7 or 8 years when he came home with me.

Dirty and scruffy looking with tatted fur, he needed a good grooming, inside one ear, the name Pablo was tattooed faintly in blue. In the other ear, six numbers in rows of two each, difficult to read, and blurred with age. THS had no history on him, other than he’d been found wandering in the Orillia area. From the start, it was obvious he’d never been abused in any way. He loved children and men especially. And he got along with EVERY dog he ever met! He wasn’t just an “alpha dog” – he was unique in that he was the Alpha dog’s Alpha dog. Any overly bumptious canines that tried to hump him received only a low growl, from deep in Brownie’s throat – and they moved away immediately – usually bowing to him as they went. It was amazing to see. He never once got into a fight. Every dog in the park loved him!

He howled and sang to opera, Joan Baez, Patsy Cline, fiddle music and choirs. He loved stalking, catching and dispatching squirrels. They died quickly, cleanly and painlessly. He was so proud of himself when he’d done one in – even though I was aghast at the first one, at Cherry Beach – Jim’s and my bench is situated on the exact spot where Brownie made his virgin kill at CB.

Gentle Mr Brownie lifted my heart, made me laugh, sing and he showed me what joy there could be in all seasons, every day, every year – I loved him with all my heart and to this day, I miss him like I’d miss oxygen. Most memorably, Brownie KNEW he was gorgeous – he just KNEW it — he would pose for photos like a high-paid model.

On January 14, 2015, while on our walk at CB, I noticed a thickening mass around his neck that seemed to grow by the minute. Not painful to him, but worrying to me. We left the park and immediately went to the vet. When we got there, Brownie looked like he had a bad case of the mumps.

They diagnosed it right away. Lymphoma in its last stages. Meds helped, but one month later, on the evening of Friday, 13th, Brownie looked at me and told me he’d had enough. “Set me free”, his big brown eyes said. I hugged him and told him, ‘tomorrow morning honey’, we’ll go. That night, he slept by my side one more time.

Jim came with me to the vet the next morning, Valentine’s Day, and together we saw Brownie out – on his trip to the Rainbow Bridge. He’s waiting there for both Jim and me, because I KNOW he loved Jim just as much as he loved me. And Jim loved Brownie too.

Eighteen months later, I thank God for the blessing of having that unforgettable dog in my care for five and a half years – and I thank whoever had him first, for the love and kindness they showed to Brownie. My one wish is that I could’ve found his previous owners to let them know that my Brownie (and their “Pablo”) was loved and cared for in all the ways he’d grown used to. Sophie and I will miss Brownie forever – till we meet again.


Bro, 35 lbs. of brindle terrier love


Originally Jim’s father in law’s dog, Bro took to Jim and Mona from the moment they met.

Little did they know, impending heath issues affecting both of Mona’s parents would send Bro in search of a new home. Her dad was having health and mobility issues, the daily care of Bro fell to Mona’s mom. When her heath became more fragile than her husband’s the family agreed that Jim and Mona would be Bro’s guardians. “Jim and I stepped up. With a fair amount of subterfuge we convinced dad to let us take Bro while he recovered from knee surgery. We knew Bro wasn’t going back to him but he didn’t. Dad really missed him but he wasn’t able to care for him. He officially became our dog when we went back for a visit and Bro wouldn’t pay any attention to him. When we left to visit other family members bro stayed on the porch waiting for us to come back. Even though it broke dad’s heart he acknowledged that bro chose us.” explains Mona.

After keeping their emotions in check, not wanting to get too attached, Jim and Mona could now relax and call Bro theirs. “Our life was never the same. The Amazing Levitating Bro was home.”

Charming everyone, he was affectionately called the “Ambassador of Dogdom”. Bro greeted dogs as though they were part of his pack and never backed down if someone challenged him. His first best friend was Apollo the border collie. When they saw each other they would race to meet and play like maniacs. When Apollo moved away Bro played with other dogs but didn’t have another best friend until he met Murray. Jim and Mona day sat Murray for years, solidifying a strong friendship between the two boys.

When Bro developed diabetes he soldiered on. After going blind from cataracts he carried on as usual, navigating the familiar paths of Cherry Beach. He even chased squirrels, sometimes abruptly catching a tree but that didn’t stop him.

“When he died August 27, 2010 it was worse than losing a family member. We grieved for him like no one else. He left a HUGE hole in our life that still isn’t filled but our new dog Liberty helps. The best way to honor a dear pet is to give that love to a new one, making their life the best it can be.

We love you Bro. You are our Spirit Animal.” – Jim and Mona





2 thoughts on “Brownie and Bro. Beautiful, Beloved Dogs Who Left Their Paw Prints on Our Hearts”

  1. So loving, so beautiful, so special. Both awesome loved and loving pups, I am fortunate that I knew them, paired up with awesome and loving people. Great tribute, to them, as well as showing the continued love still in and around Jim and Ingrid every single day. Thanks!

  2. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Kelly for writing this up! Beautiful! It’s so great to know that there’s a bench down there, in memory of Brownie — and little Bro — that will last for long after Miss Sophie and I trundle off this mortal coil. Both Brownie and Bro deserved a marker, for all the love they gave Jim and me. A bench was the best way to do it, and I hope that every other doggie owner who sits there, understands the love story that lies behind why it’s there. All best to all the wonderful generous people at Cherry Beach Dog Park. Huge hugs to you all — ingrid (AKA Bette Bergstrom)

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