Recently, my husband and I needed our bikes tuned up after a long six-month road trip. We went to The Bicycle Shoppe, which is a small, lakeside gem full of character and curiosity in the Fairmont, MN. We were greeted by the shop’s owner, Mr. B, a 10-year-old German Shepherd Husky Mix. After some gentle persuasion, Mr. B generously agreed to an interview for this column.
Mr. B. What an unusual name! There’s got to be some history to it….
It’s short for Bentley, which is my proper name and the name I go by at home. But, since I own this bustling bicycle shop on Sisseton Lake in Fairmont, we decided I would go by “Mr. B” while I’m at work. It kind of stands for “Mr. Bicycle.” The customers here really seem to like it so it stuck. And I’m okay with that.
Plus, it’s probably easy for your employees to remember.
That’s true! I really have only one employee: my dad, Larry Vogel. I let him do sales and stuff that requires opposable thumbs, like complicated bicycle repairs. I handle the important duties like client meetings and greetings.
I also keep an eye out for any foolish dogs who may try to tread into my territory here at the shop. As a Shepherd Husky Mix, that’s my nature. As soon as I see one, I bark up a storm and that always works. They never dare to enter my shop. Larry jokes that he calls me Mr. B because it stands for “Mr. Bark.” I humor him.
Is Larry a good employee?
He gets the job done. And he’s cheap labor. I don’t have to pay him. I just let him feed me, take me for walks and bicycle jogs (dog leash bike).
I run alongside Larry while he rides his bicycle. We keep perfect pace together. It’s like musical harmony. Of course, I keep Larry on a leash (dog leash bike) for safety so he doesn’t go chasing a squirrel or something. Our bicycle jogs are one of the high points of my days!
You mentioned musical harmony. That’s not something most dogs talk about.
Well, Larry was a school teacher; he taught music and led the school band. When he’s not working for me at the bike shop, he plays the trombone in a band called The Tarnished Brass. The band is his friends from college; they’ve been playing together for 50 years, which is 350 dog years, I think.
Now they’re scattered across the country, from Massachusetts to Colorado, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They’re having a reunion in August. They’ll be playing on a pontoon traveling to three of Fairmont’s lakeside parks on August 6. You’ll definitely want to catch them if you’re in town!
Larry is a good musician; he and Margo, my mom, introduced me to classical music. Now I absolutely insist they put it on the radio if they’re going to try to leave the house without me. I have it playing in the background at the bike shop, too. I find classical music, particularly Bach and Mozart, to be particularly relaxing. It soothes my soul.
You are quite refined, Mr. B.
I didn’t get the name “Bentley” for nothing. Bentleys are a most exquisitely refined automobile, you know.
Tell me about Larry and Margo.
Margo Weaver is my mom. She’s 71 and is a retired registered nurse. Larry is my dad. He’s 74 and keeps Fairmonteers’ bicycles in tip-top shape. Bicycling is big in Fairmont! I like to think it’s because of me and my bicycling reputation. The bicycle paths around town are remarkable.
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I like the bike paths in Fairmont too! How did you meet Larry and Margo?
They found me at the Martin County Humane Society about six years ago. They weren’t sure they were ready to have a dog again just three months after their beloved Shadow, a German Shephard mix, had passed away. But they agreed to foster me. I think it may have taken about the length of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, that’s 33 minutes, before they decided they had to have me as a permanent member of their family. And I agreed we were a good fit. It was right all around.
I was really happy to find out Larry had The Bicycle Shoppe, too. What a perfect fit for me! I love bikes. And I love people. And I love kids. And I love that it’s next door to the Marina Lodge. I sneak over there when I can to get a hamburger and fries. Larry keeps telling them I’m going to come over one day and play the accordion. Seriously? Maybe I would play the harpsicord. Yes. That’s it. I could play the harpsicord. And Larry could play the trombone. I think the Marina patrons would enjoy that show. We’d probably get some good tips. And maybe a beer.
Mr. B., dogs shouldn’t drink beer.
Right. I’ve heard that. We just won’t tell my vet, Dr. Dennis Katzer. I tell you what. I’ll eat a carrot for every beer, okay?
I do love raw carrots actually. I like them even more than hamburger if you can believe it.
A dog that prefers vegetables to meat. Hmmm. You are refined, Bentley.
Carrots are good for eyesight. I have detached retinas and don’t see real well these days. I eat all the carrots Margo will give me!
That reminds me. Margo and I like to play at home. I listen as she puts Cheerios around the room and then I sniff them out and we celebrate with a good ear rub. She rubs MY ears. I don’t rub hers. After a short time, I fall into a trance-like state and we softly hum together. Again, it’s perfect harmony. The story of my life.
That’s so beautiful Mr. B! Do you have anyone else you like to hang out with?
I’m not particularly fond of dogs I don’t know but there are two I know very well and so I enjoy their company. I have a girlfriend named Madeline, she’s got black fur and is around my age. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I think she’s my soul mate.
And then there’s Mozart. I helped name him and now it seems I’m on the hook to help train him. He’s a six-month-old border collie who has a lot to learn. We go with Margo and Mozart’s mom for “teaching” walks. Honestly, I hope he grows up soon. Puppies can really try your patience.
I know what you mean, I have a puppy! One last question: what celebrity do you think you most resemble?
I think I have Al Pacino’s eyes. I do a wicked Scarface imitation.
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