Similar to the consequence for real dogs when they run away from home, the Sparky statue now wears a collar with a leash that is tied to the tree outside the Ninth Street ice cream shop bearing his name.
After a long absence, Sparky the bulldog has returned home. The original statue of the dog was stolen last fall and never returned.
“We have a chain and a lock for the new dog,” owner Scott Southwick said.
The real Sparky is a 6-year-old dog owned by Southwick and predates the ice cream shop that opened in September 2003.
Southwick bought the model from Sandicast, a company that makes full-size models of dog breeds. He said it was a coincidence that Sandicast had a model that looked exactly like the real Sparky.
“We named the shop after the dog because people have always loved him,” Southwick said. “We thought it would be fun for him to have a place where he is the official mascot.”
Sparky’s absence the past few months has not gone unnoticed.
“It was a landmark, and I was disappointed that someone would steal it,” patron Pam Ogles said. “I’m glad it’s back.”
Christine Staelens said she thinks Sparky adds to the ice cream shop’s appeal.
“The statue makes this business unique. Especially since we know that there is a real Sparky, too,” Staelens said.
Earlier this month, a fund-raiser was held to raise money to purchase the new Sparky statue. People made $5 donations to help purchase the $300 statue.
“People have been so great about everything,” Southwick said. “People have come into the shop and told me how sorry they are and how sad they are that someone would steal the statue. There was one bad apple, and several hundred other people have come in and made up for that.”