BUTTE (LEE)—The sight of the new bronze Auditor statue now on display at the Butte Plaza Mall caused Alana Ferko to cry.
“I think it’s important for Butte,” said Ferko, the mall special events coordinator, while wiping tears from her face. “He’s a reminder that we are made of something pretty hardy.”
The mall is a good place to keep the statue because it’s a high-profile, warm and secure environment, Ferko said. She hopes it will help tourists appreciate what Butte is all about.
The Auditor was a shaggy dog that lived in Butte’s barren mine yards until its death Nov. 19, 2003.
Dave Elmore, owner of Trevillion-Johnson Memorial Co. in Butte, recently finished the granite base for the new statue, and he hauled the rock slabs and statue into the mall Wednesday.
The display sits permanently next to a pillar in front of Keenan Jewelers.
“I thought it turned out great,” said Elmore, who also owns Western Montana Monument Services in Missoula. “I thought the setting for it was perfect. It fits the decor of the mall.”
Elmore shaped and sandblasted the granite slabs that feature the Auditor Foundation logo and an inscription telling the dog’s tale.
The job took him more than 15 hours, and he donated about $1,500 in materials and labor.
Holly Peterson, the director of the Auditor Foundation, was also at the mall Wednesday to see the finished statue and base for the first time.
She hopes the likeness will bring business to the mall, be an inspiration to shoppers and a permanent reminder to not abandon your pets.
“I absolutely love it,” Peterson said.
Creating the new bronze Auditor statue began with two Los Angeles psychotherapists receiving a newsletter from the Puli Club of America.
Puli is a Hungarian dog breed that has corded hair, and the Auditor is believed to have been one.
In the newsletter, Tom and Melinda Peters, who are in their 60s, read an article about the independent dog that lived in the Butte mine yards.
Melinda was touched by the article and soon contacted author Holly Peterson, the director of the Auditor Foundation.
That was two years ago.
Since then, the Peters have bought all sorts of Auditor memorabilia from the foundation. They also became a driving force behind the new bronze Auditor statue.
Melinda hopes it will help draw people to Butte.
“I’ve been through Butte and know what a depressed place it is and would love to see it revitalized,” she said.
The Peters donated an undisclosed amount of money for the statue. They also allowed a clay sculpture of their first puli to be recast for the Auditor likeness.
“The Auditor Foundation did not have to pay for the initial sculpting, nor for the mold, so the final cost of the bronze was substantially less expensive on my end,” Peterson said.
The Peters commissioned Andrea Wilkinson, of Kingwood, Texas, to sculpt their dog. She specializes in animal sculptures.
Wilkinson modified the sculpture to better represent the Auditor. She removed the collar, because the Auditor never wore one. She also gave the bronze a copper-colored finish, instead of a black one.
“I hope the people in Butte enjoy it,” Wilkinson said. “I know that the Auditor has become your mascot, and that is pretty neat.”
- Thad Kelling, The Montana Standard