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My Beautiful Black Dog Harper

My dog Harper has been creating quite commotion about town lately. For those of you who don't know, Harper is the big black dog that has been greeting you for the last many months outside of Ferraro Foods here in Rossland. To all of you who have expressed concern for her in recent weeks I am so grateful that you all care. She feels the love. I will begin by telling you that she is more than well fed, loved to death (followed around the house and climbed constantly by my 8 month old) and when she is not at Ferraros she is out in the back yard, not on the deck where her blanket is but in the snowbank off to the side of the house where she can watch people and dogs walking along Thompson. She will be 14 this year. Harper came to me the weekend of my 30th birthday. She was a 5 year old Border Collie Lab who had been adored by her previous owners. They had spent hours training her, she had a vocabulary of 200 words. They ran with her daily off leash in downtown Vancouver, she never left their side. They were about to have their second child and knew weren't going to be able to give her the kind of attention she required. I was starting over, moving to an acreage on Vancouver Island ending a relationship. It was a match made in heaven. We walked a lot. She was (and is) a retriever, frisbees, balls sticks, we played for hours.I would often bring her to work and leave her in the car (windows open). Everyone knew her and, as the lodge I was working at was on the beach, she would get walked multiple times a day by whomever was heading out for a walk. By the time we got to Rossland, Harper was getting a little grey in her beard. We bought a business down town and luckily were able to keep her on the patio there. She got to know a lot of people. I often wished we'd called our shop the black dog cafe. I used to feel bad about her being out side in the winter time, she was a coastal girl after all and we coastal girls can be a little sensitive. But when we tried to keep her home she would figure out how to open the window and show up at the shop. She loved being around all the people. Everyone fed her as much as we asked then not to. That was her life, on the deck, rain or shine. Then two years ago we sold the shop. But every morning Harper kept waddling back up that hill to sit on the patio. We would go and get her and bring her back home but she'd be back by afternoon and after a while the new owner kindly told us it was okay, she was still welcome. It seemed harmless and she'd never hurt anyone. She was a senior after all. And then sometime last year Harper found Ferraro Foods the busiest place in town, the centre of our little mountain universe. From the door of Ferraro foods she could see the 10:15 line up for the thrift store every Wednesday and Friday morning, she could see Ronnie opening up for business, could smell the bread delivery truck arriving, and get pet all day long by the kids whose muffins she'd stolen back when they were all a little bit younger. I know that some of you might think I am just simply a bad citizen and dog owner, letting my dog run around off leash, overtly disobeying our civic bylaws, and you my friends would be right. I guess I just always saw it as giving a harmless old lady her day in the sun. If it were up to me I would put a dog bed and a bowl of water right out in front of the grocery store, maybe get her a visor and let her be. Instead, tomorrow we are going to buy her a long piece of rope and tie her up in the yard. It is the right thing to do. I think she will chew threw it and go back up town, but I guess we will have to wait and see.