What happens when a dog gets to be 162 years old (1,134 in human years) and his paws start to break down? At Federated Charities, it means calling in a restoration company so that we can repair/restore his foundation. However, before we send him to the veterinary hospital in June, we feel like we need to clarify a couple of things so we’re going to see how well you think you know us:
True or False: Charity is made out of iron
FALSE – For realz. We’ve been innocently promoting this fake news for several years but the restoration company tells us that he’s actually made out of a combination of zinc and pewter. Other fake news? We were pretty sure he was cast by a Baltimore company but, according to an auction catalogue from 1858, he was actually cast by Janes, Beebe & Co. in New York…who knew?
Choose the Correct Answer(s): a) Charity has had his head stolen; b) Charity has had his tail broken off; c) Charity has had a tattoo inked in his honor; d) Charity is a Labrador Retriever
Answer – a, b and c. Charity had his head vandalized in the 1960’s, and it was found in Baker Park by a student on her way to school. His tail has been vandalized on several occasions and in the late 1980’s was replaced entirely with a downward-oriented tail in order to stabilize it. And yes, Charity was permanently inked on the arm of a young woman in the summer of 2019 after she interned with the Downtown Frederick Partnership. Charity is not a Labrador however, he is actually modeled as a Chesapeake Bay Retriever or Newfoundland breed. But take a look at this picture…we think it’s totally possible he’s a drooly Tibetan Mastiff.
True or False: Charity was installed on the front porch of the Federated Charities building because the family who owned the home in 1858 really liked dogs.
We don’t know the answer to this one for sure, although some documents indicate that the dog was a rendering of a beloved pet and there are several pictures in our archives of (human) family members with a wide variety of pets (no large black dogs though). It’s very possible that the family put it there because, at that time period, decorative exterior pieces were a sign of status and wealth. According to the Smithsonian, ” Zinc sculptures are important because they reflect cultural history during the 19th century throughout the United States, especially in smaller towns. While urban centers had sources of revenue enabling erection of expensive bronze monuments, small communities throughout the country could afford zinc statues purchased from trade catalogues and shipped by railroad.” The picture in the catalogue totally looks like our statue so it may have been mass produced. Anecdotally, our records indicate that the statue originally cost $45 and caused a bit of a stir because of its cost.
If you are from Frederick, you are undoubtedly one of the people who pets him, or maybe you’re the person who has had to pull your real dog away because it’s confused, but it’s also possible that you remember the first time you saw our dog and had your picture taken with him. Whatever your memory, Charity is a part of the day to day fabric of the life of downtown Frederick and, more importantly, he is a symbol of the work of Federated Charities and our 16 nonprofit partners who share this building and whose work impacts all of us every day.
Our veterinary bill in 2020 will cost considerably more than $45 and we will be removing the statue in mid-June for further analysis and in order to re-cast the feet. During that process, we will also make sure the rest of the sculpture is stable and we will strip and re-paint it so when Charity returns, it will be as if he were brand new. His “operation” will cost our organization more than $12,000 and we have to be able to raise that before we begin the restoration…you can help by making a tax-deductible contribution to our organization, which will be matched dollar for dollar. Thank you for helping us with his restoration, we hope you’re as fond of him as we are.