Alice Fay was taking a walk to clear her mind when she stumbled across something she’d never noticed before.
She’d strolled down Commonwealth Avenue, a beautiful, tree-lined street in Boston, countless times — but this day she spotted a bronze dog peeking through a stone fence.
“I was chatting with my sister who lives in a different state as I walked by it,” Fay told The Dodo. “I looked over and I gasped and stopped talking. I turned around and went back and said, ‘There’s this statue here, and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!’”
Fay assumed that the mysterious, life-sized statue of a Labrador searching for her tennis ball was a memorial to a lost pet, and worried that she might cry. So she decided to take some photos and share them on Facebook to see if anyone knew the story behind the dog statue.ALICE FAY
“I wanted to go knock on the door, but I thought it would be weird,” Fay said.
According to WGBH, the statue belongs to Anne Lovett and Steve Woodsum and is modeled after their black Labrador, Piper.
“We wanted to add just something to our front yard,” Lovett told WGBH. “Something that would be a little bit unique and visually interesting for people coming by. Something, sort of, like a little surprise.”ALICE FAY
In 2006, the couple commissioned sculptor Jim Sardonis to create the life-sized statue of Piper for their front garden. When the dog greeted him by sticking her head through the fence, he knew that was the perfect pose to capture Piper’s friendly personality.
“I went down to take photos of the dog and we went out into this little front yard and the first thing the dog did was go and put her head through the railing,” Sardonis told The Dodo.
Adding the tennis ball was Lovett’s idea. “Piper loves chasing tennis balls,” Lovett explained to WGBH. “I felt as though it was just a little bit of serendipity that people might not notice the first time or the second time, but maybe the third time they would see it.”
For 17 years, a bronze Piper has been greeting her neighbors and bringing joy to the street, or at least to those lucky enough to spot her.ANNE LOVETT
“It became an instant icon, apparently. Especially with children walking by,” Sardonis said. “They would want to pat her head, and it shows some of that in the wearing away of the dark patina to the shiny bronze underneath.”
Fay was happy to learn that the statue was created as a tribute to Piper, not a memorial. “It made me feel good that she was still alive when they had it made,” Fay said. “It made me wonder why no one else had ever done something like this. It was beautiful.”
Piper passed away last year, but the well-loved dog lives on in the sweet statue in front of her home.