Article written by Andra Coberly & Andrew Kensley. Photograph by Steve Glass.
“I got Bear at a charity auction,” says Wendy Foster, owner of The Fine Art and Framing Company in Fort Collins. “That’s what happens when you have two glasses of wine before dinner!”
She is thankful for all the Cabernet now. For more than half of the Oak Street gallery’s 18-year existence, Foster’s four-legged office manager has been as much of a fixture as the canvases that adorn the shop’s walls. And her loyal customers now expect that each piece of art come with not less that a laconic stare and enthusiastic tail wag. Even the delivery people know the setup.
“We always keep treats in the office,” Foster says. “He stays here all day, so we all work together to make sure he’s taken care of.”
The 12-year-old shepherd-Lab-husky mix has been employed as the art gallery’s primary greeter since his rambunctious puppy days, helping customers browse comfortably, sometimes with a silent partner. Unfortunately, a decade or so of running and hiking has aged his joints some. But while arthritis may have sapped his agility, it has not affected his demeanor. And it certainly hasn’t dampened his ability to turn most humans to mush with little more than a firm gaze.
Foster is unapologetically boastful of her loyal assistant. “Bear’s got such personality, and he still gets a little possessive after 12 years,” she says. “and he demands hugs. He’ll stare at you and not stop until you pet him.” – A.K.