Run, Laugh, And Rest In Peace, Camden Girl.

July 28, 2010, Camden Bristol, the original Laughing Lab, passed peacefully from the Bristols’ sun porch to what we imagine to be a bone-filled, bacon-wrapped, behind-the-ear-scratching, trail-running, barkfest of a dog party in the sky.

From the beginning, Camden was asked to be more than a dog, and she took on the role with a bit of grace, a lot of pluck, and a strong sense of duty. A stray found in Florida and named after the Bristols’ favorite town in Maine, Camden was both brewery fixture and figurehead for 16 years. If you were a regular at the old Forge Road location, you knew her well. You knew she would sleep under the desk until there was a customer to greet. And that she was clever enough to open the front door to let herself out, but you had to set your pint down to get up and let her back in. Kids who entered with their parents were barked at fervently (no need to check IDs). That is, all except four year-old Alexandra Zurenko, who won Camden’s heart with pocketfuls of goldfish.

She could also let herself out at the “new” brewery on busy Tejon Street, which was one reason that when Amanda started staying home with Mercer, Camden did too. Although many times she would wander from the house back to the brewery, looking for Mike. Always looking for Mike.

Camden was what most labs are, and what every laughing lab should be: funny, friendly, loyal, and wise. If you spilled your Warlock on the rug, no problem—she’d handle the cleanup. Having a rotten day? Nothing a genuine look of concern and a few big licks couldn’t fix. Sick? A snuggle on the sofa, chin on your legs, was just the thing. And she was a late sleeper. Enough said.

Camden the Wonder Dog, as she was once dubbed by a brewer, was also a survivor. She was run over by a car two different times, gored in the abdomen by a well-appointed buck, took liberties with her arthritis medicine, and lived to tell the tale thanks to Drs. DeWaal, Dye, and Johnson at Westside.

Above all else Camden was a steadfast companion, requiring little in return but love and a warm leg to rest her chin on. She was a dog you could exchange knowing looks with. She always understood.

We will miss the click of her nails as she followed us down the hall and the jingle of her tags as she stole cookies from the kitchen counter and hid them in the fireplace, but we will always remember what she taught us:
•Always hold out for the sunny spot.
•Life is meant to be lived in the company of those you love unconditionally.
•Stop and smell the bushes, the roses, everything. No matter how badly everyone else wants to keep going.
•Bacon. Is. Good.

Camden is survived by her step-sister and protegé for the past year, Halifax. A one year-old from Safe Harbor Lab Rescue, Hallie takes up the mantle of laughing lab-in-residence with great enthusiasm, as she does everything, but also with a strong sense of duty. When you see her, don’t hesitate to offer a meaningful pet and a word of encouragement. She knows she has a big collar to fill. And we are convinced that, fill it, she will.