What to do when you get here — An insider’s guide to interests and attractions in the area surrounding The Cliff House Resort & Spa.
Collies on the Cliff
Many guests approaching the front desk are surprised to see a group of collies on the little mezzanine above. Often a slim face dotted with a black, velvet-like nose leans out through the railings. The dogs seem to keep a watchful eye, ready to herd the guests if needed. The colors of the collies’ beautiful coats are fascinating; Blue Merle - a silver, black and gray color with a blush of peach on the face; Tri-Color - black, brown and lots of white; Sable - the traditional Lassie color with golden shades outlined in brown and bright white. I also saw a collie that seemed to have no coat! When Kathryn, the fourth generation Weare family innkeeper, came down to walk three dogs she introduced me to the “smooth” collie, Dillon. He has the same color markings as the “ruff” collies but has a smooth, sleek coat revealing his strong musculature. Walking just ahead of the others was Dillon’s “ruff” sister, a Tri-color called Demanda, originally Amanda.
I asked if I could walk along, and Kathryn readily agreed. I wanted to know if she had always had collies, and as we walked across rolling lawns she told me about her long connection to them.
”When I went to kindergarten in York there was a collie named Laddie who visited us every day during recess. We all became very fond of him. When I went to the big school, I learned that the collie belonged to the fifth grade teacher, Eleanor Adams. She was a good teacher and kind to all the students. And so our fondness for Laddie encompassed her. Unbelievable then and now, Laddie was poisoned and died. I can remember that school had to be let out early that day because word of this upset all the children, many too young to understand what happened. I remember running home crying to my parents that Laddie was gone. Later that day they would learn what had happened. The bad news spread quickly through town.” Kathryn and I continued across the freshly mowed grass, a sea breeze ruffling the “ruff” coats.
”I remained friends with Eleanor Adams over her lifetime. She had kept some of my papers from school, which she gave me when she was 80 years old because she was selling her house and had found them in her attic. The last time I saw her she was 96! She died this past year.”
I asked, “When did you get your first dog?” ”I was twenty years old. Because of Laddie, it had to be a collie. I named him MacDuff, and that began my long history with collies.”
We talked about the framed watercolors in the hotel Pavilion that feature her dogs. “Each year a Maine artist creates a painting for our Christmas card. The tradition began with my second dog, Allie Bear, and continues to this day,” she said. “Some guests frame them.” I wanted the walk to go on longer. “Do you ever show your collies?”
”Yes,” she said, “both in breed and agility. Dillon has seven points toward his AKC championship. His parents are both breed champions. Eve, the blue merle, loves agility and holds many titles. At this point, Demanda just lives up to her name.”
Too soon we were back at the entrance. We walked by the boxwoods and the pots of fragrant flowers. The dogs waited for the automatic doors, and then stood in front of the elevator. I commented on how well behaved they were, and Kathryn said, “They vie to come to the hotel, and that’s why they are on their best behavior here. I only bring three or four each day. They all line up in the hallway next to the garage with ’take me’ expressions on their faces. Demanda often bolts to the car, so she gets to come more frequently. At home, they have several acres to run and play in. It’s an entirely different scene!”
I said my goodbyes to the beautiful dogs, and left for a walk along the ledges, wishing I had a collie. I’d name him MacDuff.