In Search of Calico Chloe



Where do you begin? That’s the question I asked myself as I began an investigation into a dog named Calico Chloe. According to legend, Calico Chloe lived during the era of the American Old West, but that’s the legend talking, and as I said earlier, legends have a tendency to be largely fiction with a little bit of truth thrown in.

With the help of Google, the words "Calico Chloe" produced an impressive 12.5 million results. My excitement was quickly tempered when those internet leads proved to be mostly cat related, since the word calico is usually associated with the calico cat, which is defined as a domestic cat that has a tri-color fur coat of white, black and brown. 

One interesting piece of information that popped up was that of an old western ghost town called “Calico.” Today, it’s a restored tourist attraction located north of Interstate-15 between Barstow and Yemo in San Bernardino County, California. Founded in 1881, Calico was once a bustling silver mining town that was named after the Calico mountains in which it’s situated. 

Was this evidence that Calico Chloe was from the town of Calico? More digging provided another interesting tidbit that came from Wikipedia for the town of Calico. Wikipedia makes mention that children’s author, Susan Lendroth, wrote a picture book titled, Calico Dorsey, Mail Dog of the Mining Camps, based on the true story of a dog that carried mail between Calico and East Calico in 1885. Thinking that maybe I was on to something, I researched the story and found the following.

"…Calico had another famous resident - that of Dorsey, the “mail carrying dog”. Dorsey was found in 1883 by Postmaster Jim Stacey when the hungry and footsore black and white shepherd was lying on his porch. Stacey quickly adopted him and Dorsey became his faithful friend. In addition to his postmaster duties, Stacy also had an interest in a mine in nearby Bismarck. On one occasion, when Stacy needed to get an urgent message to his partner at the mine, he tied a note to Dorsey’s neck and sent him up there. Before long, Dorsey returned with a reply. Dorsey was soon carrying messages back and forth to the mine frequently when Stacy had the idea to make the dog a regular mail carrier. Soon the dog was carrying all the mail from Calico to Bismarck, bearing his load in little pouches strapped to his back. For three years, Dorsey covered the mail route between the two camps and became so valuable that Stacy was offered $500 for the dog, to which Stacy replied, “I’d rather sell a grandson.” -, (Calico, California)

Although Dorsey was a fascinating story, I concluded this probably was not the real Calico Chloe legend, or at least not the one that I had hoped to find. Yes - I had found some evidence to a potential legend such as:

  • The name ‘calico’ referring to a tri-color fur coat - which is not unlike my Chloe’s sable coloring of white, black and brown. Could this be why Calico Chloe had calico in her moniker?
  • The name ‘calico’ could also refer to a place such as the ghost town Calico, and wasn’t this town a part of the Old West!
  • Then there’s Dorsey, the incredible mail dog of Calico which gives us a noteworthy dog in which to wrap a legend around!

But then again, my search didn’t find any correlation to the ‘Chloe’ portion of the legend’s name - so, is that the fictional part of the story? Historians will tell you that true legends are born of a mixture of truth and imagination. Where the truth ends, imagination simply fills in the details. 

So, if there really isn’t a Calico Chloe legend - than maybe it’s time to begin one.

'Click on the logo above and begin learning about the Old West'

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