R.I.P. Lewis — you were loved at the Colorado Capitol and at home

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and her beloved dog, Lewis, who died last week. (Donovan picture)
Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and her beloved dog, Lewis, who died last week. (Donovan picture)

It’s hard to imagine the 2016 legislative session without Lewis, the beloved dog who loved to race down the hall and into the press room to see if someone was there to give him treats.

He ran so fast he would skid on the marble floor when trying to make the turn.

“The dog is going to make somebody fall,” I was admonished over and over again by the Senate sergeants.

Yet, I continued to buy bags of dog treats for the little guy, who won over my heart  on the campaign trail in 2014 when I met him at the Gunnison County Democratic picnic.

Lewis died last week of an enlarged heart. He died on his 8th birthday.

Donovan on Sunday sent a letter to her “Capitol friends” informing them of Lewis’ death. Condolences poured in.

“I am so sad to hear of little Lewis’ passing,” lobbyist Benjamin Waters wrote on his Facebook page. “Sen. Kerry Donovan from Vail kept this wonderful little pup in her office and whenever the days became contentious and long during the 2015 legislative session, this little guy made everyone feel better. RIP Lewis.”

Lobbyist Jeani Frickey Saito responded, “Lewis made the Capitol a better place.”

Lewis was born on Dec. 8, 2007, in eastern Colorado. Donovan adopted the dog, who was part Corgi, part Blue Heeler, when he was 12 weeks old.

“I miss him terribly,” she said today. “Best dog a gal could ask for!”

Lewis, waiting by my office chair at the Capitol, during the 2015 session.
Where are you? I want my treat! Lewis, waiting by my office chair at the Capitol, during the 2015 session.

Lewis accompanied Donovan to the Gunnison County picnic last year where I asked if I could get a picture of her and Sen. Mark Udall. She put down her dog and I said, “No, I want the dog in the picture.” When I e-mailed Donovan to ask whether it was “Lewis” or “Louis,” she wrote back, “Lewis, but he won’t ask for a correction.”

When I realized Lewis was going to be at the Capitol every day, I bought bags of Pup-peroni’s, which he became addicted to, running from his third-floor office to my third-floor office in the press room. Colleague Joey Bunch fed Lewis plenty of crackers and dog treats, too.

In committee hearings I would often get an e-mail from colleague Bente Birkeland, a radio reporter with KRCC. “Lewis,” she said, “came in here looking for you.”

When I left The Denver Post to take a job as the spokeswoman for Secretary of State Wayne Williams, one of the first things I carried into my office was a bag of dog treats, hoping one day that someone from the Capitol would walk Lewis over for a visit.

Joey told me at lunch last week he had already stocked up on dog treats for the 2016 session.

It won’t be the same without Lewis.

Here is Donovan’s letter:

Hello Capitol Friends,

I wanted to share the sad news that Lewis died last week of an enlarged heart.

So many of you have been wonderful friends to my little black dog and the connections he made resulted in the Capitol feeling like a very small place. After all, if a ridiculous looking dog with ears a little too big and legs a little too short could be embraced by so many folks then I knew the building was filled with good people. He came to this conclusion before I did I think. Lewis loved going to the Capitol.

Lewis has been my shadow for many years and I will miss him deeply. He was a dog that made me a better human. Thank you for hiding a ball in your desk or having treats on hand or giving him a toy. Thank you for taking him on walks. Thank you for coming down the hallway just to see him. Lewis lived a large life and the one year he had as a Capitol Dog was a great one.

-Kerry