On losing a shop dog

On losing a shop dog

Napkins Fritz Rocket Lang was also known as “Nerps,” “Buddy,” or our “Sweet Boy.” He was a six-year-old rescue pup when I got him in Baltimore, and I’m so grateful to have shared this happy life with him until his 15th year.

I can’t remember how many Christmases I asked for a dog— too many. Sometimes I received stuffed dogs but never the real deal. Right before my 28th birthday, I finally gave myself the best gift: my first dog. Napkins immediately bonded to me, happy to be anywhere… as long as he knew I was nearby.

Napkins was the Warm Wishes shop dog, but he also had so many other coworkers over the years. When he went to work with me at an art school in Baltimore he knew all the students and staff. The college president even put a picture of him in a presentation when listing the reasons he was excited to work there. When we moved to Iowa, Napkins worked with Clancy in Iowa City one day a week. When they arrived at the office, Napkins would do his rounds to visit all his coworkers and get pets and treats. When Clancy and I started working from home in 2020, we became his favorite coworkers. But I think it was as a shop dog that Napkins truly thrived.

The first time we brought Napkins to the future home of Warm Wishes he was shaking. Downtown Jefferson resembled the town where he typically got groomed, so he thought we were about to leave him. But it didn’t take long for Napkins to grow to love this space. He was immediately embraced by the Jefferson community. Right after the store opened, I took a visiting friend to the ice cream shop. When we walked up, a little girl said “That’s Napkins’s mom!” Napkins loved watching customers from his perch on the velvet yellow couch. He’d jump down when he saw people he recognized and would sometimes herd them around the store. Anytime Clancy walked by the store Napkins woke up, excited for his impending visit. Napkins tolerated pokes and pets from kids. So many kids have stickers of his little face. He was my excuse to take walks around the square and get fresh air throughout the day. And even though he slept most of the afternoon, I never felt alone when he was with me in the shop.

Having Napkins present in this, and many other, public space makes his loss felt more widely. We’ve made a memorial for him in the store, and I have loved reading all the ways he brought joy to others in his community. It’s hard to put into words what Napkins meant to me. I can say without a doubt that he made me a better person. He helped me explore during our midday walks and taught me to be more responsible and patient. I loved his crooked smile— whether he was sporting a snaggle tooth or a toothless grin— and his excited spins when he knew it was close to quitting time. He asked for so little: a soft place to rest his head, walks whenever he wanted them, a treat after he gave a high-five, and all the love and cuddles. He had the pranciest walks up until the end. We miss you so much, buddy. Napkins, my dear, don’t forget us. 

Back to blog