Sunday, 16 December 2018
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Grandin Village firehouse’s dogged sentinel leaves for a few small repairs

Trojan is a stubborn pup.

When it was time for him to leave his regular perch overlooking 1742 Memorial Ave. S.W. in front of Roanoke’s Fire Station No. 7 on Monday, the nearly 10-foot white, spotted fellow dug in his forepaws like a real dog who just didn’t want to go.

The beloved mascot of Station No. 7, was off to the “vet” — a 3-D fabrications maker — for some repairs and “grooming” ahead of the forthcoming replacement of the fire station he guards.

But when the owners of 4DD Studios and a crew of firefighters took a ratchet to bolts holding the colossal canine in place, Trojan wasn’t having it. An anchor in the concrete stripped out and just spun around. Before it was over, the firefighters applied a pry bar normally used for rescues, and Trojan at last came along.

Hoisting the dog off its base and easing him onto a trailer for the ride to Bedford County took the combined effort of 4DD owners Clinton Hatcher and Jim McGeorge, their employee Tyler Underwood and three firefighters.

Trojan settled in, his mammoth head pivoted slightly to his left, looking somehow not very menacing despite his size and red spiked collar. Firefighters from Station No. 7’s B-shift had spiffed him up for the trip with a bath Sunday.

After a leak around his ears is patched up, he’ll be returned to a temporary location elsewhere in the surrounding Raleigh Court neighborhood until the new fire station is complete.

“He may just pop up, and we might have some kind of contest about ‘find the dog,’ ” said Susan Jennings, Roanoke’s arts and culture coordinator. After that, he’ll return to his old spot by the new station.

Until then, he was off for a ride down Memorial Avenue, through downtown and then east to the 4DD shop. With Trojan’s ears nudging the 12-foot mark on the trailer, Hatcher said they’d charted a course free of low overpasses and other dangers.

“We didn’t want to take it through Vinton and pull down some wires,” he said.

Demolition of the 1922 station and construction of a new one are expected to begin this spring, despite a monthslong grassroots effort to convince the Roanoke City Council to spare the station and re-use it as part of an expanded new facility. The council spent $50,000 to study that option but rejected it.

Throughout that debate, there seemed only one point of agreement on all sides: the dog must stay.

Trojan, the work of Roanoke artist Ann Glover, was initially built of plywood as a temporary installation as part of a citywide public art showcase in 2012.

But the neighborhood was immediately so smitten with Trojan, the Raleigh Court Neighborhood Association won a grant it used to partner with the city to make Trojan a permanent fixture.

That involved refabricating the dog out of more durable materials — a kind of Fiberglas and acrylic material — and a more robust anchoring system.

That latter seemed especially necessary. Glover said not long after the original Trojan was installed, she drove up Memorial Avenue one morning to find him tipped over forward, his head partially broken away from his body. Apparently, an intoxicated patron of a nearby watering hole mounted Trojan’s neck and rode him into the ground the night before.

The artist didn’t see the affection for Trojan coming.

“It’s a surprise and a delight to me. … There are many people who care about him, apparently, and I understand that, I know how dogs are,” said Glover, who showed up to watch Trojan’s departure Monday morning with a leash in her pocket.

“It’s a testament to what public art can mean to people,” Glover said. “He now belongs to everyone.”


The Bark Box

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