By Brad Reynolds

In ancient Rome, the “dog days” of summer referred to an astrological period where Sirius rose just before the sun. In modern day, we use the phrase more broadly to describe the hottest time of year. But to Denny Chase, every day is a dog day of summer; for thirty years, he and his wife, Linda, have made it their duty to save East Glacier’s strays.

“These dogs are just the most wonderful, caring animals,” says Denny. “They’ve done nothing wrong.”

The Chases made their first rescue in 1988, the same year they became proprietors of Brownie’s Grocery. While washing windows one afternoon, Denny caught the faint sound of whimpering and looked about to find Cold Bear, the pup next door, tied to a tree with two empty bowls before him. A brief survey of the property revealed that the owners had rushed out; the front door was ajar and the sink full of dishes. Denny gave Cold Bear food and water, and when his owners didn’t return, Denny brought him home.

“He was so happy to have someone pay attention to him,” says Denny. “From then on, he was stuck to me.”

Cold Bear’s rescue opened the Chases’ eyes. It suddenly became apparent that East Glacier was overrun with neglected dogs and that someone needed to do something about it.

“There are great shelters in the area,” explains Denny, “but we never felt comfortable adding to their supply.”

Instead, the Chases took the burden upon themselves. They fed and watered strays, giving them away to good homes throughout the summer. When winter arrived, any dogs that weren’t adopted went home with the Chases.

“Once they’re inside for the winter, I don’t want to give them away,” Denny chuckles. “They become Denny’s dogs.”

It’s been three decades since Denny’s act of compassion toward Cold Bear, and while he says they aren’t getting any younger, he and Linda have no plans to retire their post as East Glacier’s canine guardians.

“It means a lot to give these dogs a good life,” says Denny. “They want to belong to someone. They need to belong.”