By Trish Gannon
It's said that if you know the dog, you know the man. If that's true, then perhaps it's possible to know a town by its dogs as well. And Sandpoint offers a wealth of opportunity to be seen through different eyes; the canine-eye view, so to speak, because this is a town where dogs are a welcome part of the family, and join many local business owners at their work.Take Winston, an 11-year old cocker spaniel, who has been an "employee" at the Image Maker on First Avenue for three or four years. "He loves being around people," said owner Tyke Van Dellen. "He finds staying at home with the cats to be very insulting." He adds, "We have people who come in just to see Winston."
Sweet Molly Malone spends most days at The Corner Book Store with owners Dennis and Paula Andrews. Born in Clark Fork, she's a full-blooded Chinese pug whose two sisters live down at Horton's Pet Store on Cedar.
At Realty Plus, Jack the Welsh Corgi makes his home. Jack has been coming in daily to the office for just a few months. Jack likes it, as co-owner Dennis Envik explains, "He gets about 32 walks a day!" Envik's wife, Joyce, has taught Jack to greet customers with an eerie wail that sounds suspiciously like "hello."
Jessie, a combination of blue heeler and Australian shepherd, is a former pound dog who's now found a home with owner Rick Steiner at Sandpoint Music. A store resident almost every day through the winter, she's a less frequent visitor in the summer. "Usually she's pretty happy," said Steiner. "She recognizes (customers) even if they haven't been in for a while."
Two readily recognizable faces are Bear, half lab and half "sneaky neighbor's dog" and his Dalmatian companion, Puzzle. The pair can be seen several times a day, whenever architect Kris Contor takes them for a stroll through town. When not out walking, they stay in the office upstairs at 219 Cedar St. with Contor and his partner, Krister Allen.
Out at The Paint Bucket you can meet five-month-old Ruggles, a French bulldog, who lives there with his cat-pal Ms. Simba. Owner Liz Stephenson says the cat was "pretty annoyed" when Ruggles came to the store but, "Deep down, she really likes him."
And at Mountain Spa and Stove, stop in and meet Rosie. She's a tiny Yorkshire terrier who stays at the store with owner Jim Fulling whenever her "mom," Betsy, is not at home. Rosie, all nine-or-so inches of her, is the official greeter for the store.
Through the winter, look for Ludwig, a massive St. Bernard, on Schweitzer Mountain, where owner Skip Pucci says he likes to think it's his job to greet all visitors to the village. "We're keeping him out of the village itself," he explained. "Schweitzer doesn't care for yellow snow." Come summer time, Ludwig can be found in Skip's office, Pucci Construction, in The Old Power House, or cruising downtown with his head hanging out of the back of the green Pucci Construction truck.
Even Keokee Co. Publishing, the home of Sandpoint Magazine, has a few dogs in the family. Operations Manager Mariah Murphy thinks that Luna, found on the side of a road almost four years ago, "seems to be more coyote than anything else." She has the shy disposition of a coyote, and tends to stay in her "den" under Murphy's desk.
Paris, owned by Art Director Laura Wahl, comes in only on Fridays, or whenever he's able to sneak unnoticed into the car. A big, black and white mutt, Paris greets people with a toothy smile.
In fact, smiles are as frequent as dogs in this town, and with "man's best friend," working behind the counter, it's easy to see why.