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Shop Dogs: Rick Fairless and his three-dog commute

By JoAnn Bortles

Sometimes the funniest part of a Shop Dogs story is how the dogs came to be there. That certainly is the case at Rick Fairless’ Strokers Dallas. I’ve always admired the over-the-top paint jobs at his shop. Rick never does anything halfway. He pushes the creativity of his bikes and his shop to, and past, the limit. He embraces life and business with an enthusiasm that never quits. And his Shop Dogs story is no exception.

Like most of us shop owners, Rick puts in many hours, working seven days a week, 16 hours a day. Six years ago, his wife Sue decided she needed a dog to keep her company. She drove out to West Texas and picked up a black-and-white Sheepadoodle puppy. After Sue got back with the dog, Rick named the puppy Alice, after Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners, which is his favorite show. But things did not go as planned.

“Within a few months it was obvious that Alice took to me more than she did my wife Sue,“ Rick said. “So, Alice would go to work with me every day Monday through Friday. Two years later, my wife is still lonely and she decides we need another dog. So, we find this sheepdog/Lab mix and we buy her. I decide to name her Trixie, because that was Alice Kramden’s best friend on The Honeymooners—Trixie Norton. Trixie wouldn’t let me leave her at home either, so now I have two dogs coming to work with me every day. Fast forward two more years and Sue decides we need a registered Old English Sheepdog. So, we find a breeder and buy one that I name Ethel after Ethel Mertz from I Love Lucy. So now there are three big shop dogs traveling with me to work every day!”

It’s a circus every morning when Rick leaves for work: three big dogs rushing around, racing through the door to get to the truck. He has a 1969 Chevy C-10 pickup with tie-dye flames on it and that’s usually what he drives to the shop. The C-10 has a bench seat across the front and it quickly fills up with shaggy dogs. “Alice always sits next to me because if she isn’t next to me she throws a fit, so the other two dogs relent and let Alice sit next to Dad. In fact, anytime I open my truck door Alice always jumps in first, even if I’m not going anywhere!”

“Ethel is two years old. She’s a grayish black-and-white 100-percent registered Old English Sheepdog. We call her Evil Ethel because she terrorizes and ‘herds’ the other two dogs. She’s a bully! Her job around the shop is to loudly greet all customers that walk through the doors. She likes to sit in a chair when people are in my office so that they can rub on her. One time she fell asleep in the chair and fell to the floor! She is Sue’s snuggle buddy at night; she sleeps between me and Sue.”

“Trixie is four years old and is the all-gray dog. She’s a sheepdog and Lab mix. She’s also the most loving dog. She doesn’t like loud noises. When she barks it scares even me; it’s loud and deep and blood curdling like a wild animal! When she wants to be petted she will jump up in your face and rub her nose on your nose! Trixie’s job at the shop is to scare away potential visitors from my office.”

“Alice is six years old and, as a Sheepadoodle, she does not shed a single hair. Alice is Daddy’s baby. She sticks with me. Alice is almost blind, but she doesn’t know it. She couldn’t care less about the other two dogs or other people; she just wants to hang out with me! Her job at the shop is to be the constant companion to her Dad, although Alice really likes pretty girls. Alice likes to sit next to me at the manager’s meeting every week. Anyway, I really didn’t want any more dogs after Alice, but now that we have them I don’t know what I would do without them. I guess I’m just a dog guy!”

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