AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Austin dog parents have a lasting memorial to their pet after the pup’s favorite pet store altered a mural on the side of the building.
Julie Wimmer and Clint Tuttle took Lady to the Tomlinson’s Feed on Airport Boulevard and 49th 1/2 Street nearly every day. They live in the neighborhood, and Lady never missed an opportunity to get a treat.
“She just became part of our family,” said Scott Click, Tomlinson’s owner.
Even when health issues prevented Lady from walking, she would show up, day after day, year after year, standing proudly in a red wagon as Wimmer and Tuttle pulled her across the parking lot.
“When your dog is older and sick, they kind of say, when they stop doing the things they love, you know, that’s when they’re ready to leave the earth,” Tuttle said. “And the one thing that we knew that she loved was just coming here.”
When they heard she died, Tomlinson’s staff contacted the artist who painted the original mural on the side of the building. He finished his touch-up just before the new year.
“We walk past here all the time; we’re going to see it every day,” Tuttle said. “It’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received in my entire life, hands down.”
A lifetime of love
Wimmer first got Lady as a puppy while she was in the Peace Corps in South America. “Just a handful,” at the time, Tuttle said, Lady would live a long life — nearly 13 years — despite health conditions including an unpredictable congestive heart issue.
Wimmer and Tuttle moved to their central Austin neighborhood in 2012 and quickly discovered their dog’s love for the local pet supply shop. On walks around the block, she would always lead them to the store.
Employees loved seeing her, too, even before they opened for the day.
“It was a like nice bright spot in the morning,” said Betsy Black, “like, ‘Oh, well, we got to hurry up and get this door unlocked so we let Lady in.”
Black worked in the store when Lady first started coming in all those years ago. Now the chain’s e-commerce coordinator, she watched from her window in the company’s headquarters next door as the pup rode her red wagon to the store every day.
“It made me so happy to be able to see that we were still a part of Lady’s daily experience,” she said. “She was still coming in, demanding her treats.”
A New Year’s surprise
It took a couple days after Lady died for Tuttle and Wimmer to visit the store again. When they did, they cried together with the employees — Lady’s extended family.
Click, who’s owned Tomlinson’s for decades after inheriting the business from his father, contacted Mike Johnston, who goes by “Truth,” to update his original mural.
“We just wanted to honor her and honor them as being great pet parents,” he said.
But he didn’t tell them about the project. The artist finished it just before the new year, and Wimmer saw it while she was walking to a coffee shop nearby.
The red wagon and halo made her unmistakable.
“She called me and said, ‘Do you know that Lady’s on the mural at Tomlinson’s?'” Tuttle remembered.
At first, the image brought back the sadness of losing her six months earlier. But that didn’t last, and now they’re happy to see the likeness memorializing their pup at her happiest.
“When I think of Austin, I think of all the murals that are in this town,” Tuttle said. “Now Ladybird’s part of that. She’s going to be immortalized in a really cool mural that we see all the time.”