By Meredeth Barzen
When Abbey—a truly remarkable St. Bernard—passed away last August, owner Dan Campo wasn’t the only one grieving the loss. Abbey was the shop dog at South Lyndale Liquors, and the South Minneapolis community she called home had gotten used to her—even come to depend on her—as a fixture of the dog-friendly store.
Regulars will remember the way Abbey padded around the crates of wine and shelves of liquor, not in anyone’s way, careful not to bother customers, but always happy to accept a scratch behind the ears.
Abbey was trained in Colorado as an avalanche rescue dog. Dan took her in when she “retired” from that job, but her eight years with him were far from uneventful. Dan took all 160 pounds of her with him on his adventures. Together, they covered 200,000 miles of the country’s highways, summited more than a dozen of Colorado’s highest peaks, and made friends with mountain goats, marmot, big horn sheep and even a bear.
“I can’t begin count the number of backcountry ski adventures we shared,” Dan says. “We once walked to safety together out of a 10,000 acre forest fire after two days with no water. We navigated a 300-foot-deep slot canyon in Southern Utah that was only a few feet wide for 11 miles together. Watched the numerous sunrises and sunsets backpacking on the Colorado continental divide trail. Abbey was a loyal companion the whole time.”
Last August, on a Colorado camping trip, Abbey got sick, and though Dan and his group was able to get a police escort to an emergency vet, they weren’t able to save her.
Abbey’s memory hasn’t left South Lyndale Liquors, though. “As fate would have it, just 10 hours before she fell sick, Abbey and I rescued another St. Bernard who was left alone in a back yard near Boulder, Colorado for almost two years,” Dan says. “The owners put food and water outside occasionally, but he was about 30 pounds underweight.” Tobias, as he’s now called, is slowly putting on weight now, and keeps Dan company at the store, though he sticks close to his new owner most of the time. “Tobias loves people, kids and other dogs just like Abbey, but he isn’t used to the freedom of wandering the store—greeting customers, their children and other dogs—like Abbey did.”
Abbey’s impact on her community was clear: “I came back from Colorado a week after Abbey’s death to find my desk covered in sympathy cards; some addressed to me, but many more simply addressed to South Lyndale Liquors,” Dan says. “It made me realize how much Abbey meant to everyone in the neighborhood.”
And though the world will never see another dog quite like Abbey, she was the quintessential shop dog—respectful, sweet, a treat for customers and a friend for employees. She showed how shop dogs can turn ordinary stores into living, breathing members of the community.
“It’s hard looking through 8 years of photos from some of the most amazing places on earth and realizing that Abbey is the one constant,” said Dan when we asked him for photos of Abbey. “However, every one of those memories was incredible.”
**Editor’s note: Stop in and say hi to Dan and Tobias when you’re stocking up on holiday libations in the next few weeks (and bring your pooch, too!)