When I first started in the brewing industry better than a decade ago, I was hired at Big Sky Brewing Company to pour beers in their taproom. To this day I’m still not sure why they hired me. I was an out of work touring musician and had no experience at a brewery, in retail, or as a server. But, I did have a dog.
Her name was Kiska. She was as docile a Golden Retriever as you will ever meet. I mean, she was very sensitive. But, she loved people, and that made my new gig at the brewery a great fit for her. At the time, we lived in a tiny apartment on 5th Street in Missoula, about a mile and a half from the old Big Sky taproom on Hickory Street. Every morning we would walk along the river trail down to work, and Kiska would sit out in front of the brewery all day long. Every person who happened by was greeted with her same rabid enthusiasm, and it’s safe to say she put a smile on the faces of most folks. Now that I think about it, Big Sky may have hired me because of my dog.
Fast forward a decade or more and a few things have changed. First off, Kiska unfortunately is no longer with us, and as of this last year, I’m no longer at Big Sky as I’m focusing my energies on starting up The Dram Shop. In the absence of Kiska, her friend and our other dog Leeroy now takes up the torch where she left off. Over the past months as I have sojourned each day to The Dram Shop on Front Street, Leeroy has faithfully joined me. We often walk home the couple of miles along Rattlesnake Creek and he loves to sniff around and wet his muzzle in the cold fresh water. He’s also taken up the tradition of keeping watch over the shop, and welcoming each person as they arrive.
There’s something special about having a dog around. In some way it makes it all a bit more human, and I’m lucky to have him here by my side.