Every fall, I take my tall black boots to a tiny local shoe repair shop here in Hoboken – Giovanni’s D’Italia Shoe Repair shop on the corner of 7th and Washington Streets.  After three short days and a mere seventeen smackeroos later, my boots are returned to their original patent leather beauty with un-cracked soles, and firmly attached heels.

Always in the large blanketed window facing 7th Street, an imposing German Shepard lay napping.  The first time I saw him, I was afraid to enter the shop.  Instead I waited to the side and watched a handful of people enter and leave the shop.  The dog would open his eyes, maybe lift his head, but he never barked or made any movement towards the shop’s patrons.  After a few years,  I was brave enough to touch his gruff coat, patting his flank.  The faces of the men behind the counter changed over the years, but the German Shepard was always there, a sentinel.  I began to wonder if he might be the store’s namesake rather than a the old wiry Italian man I pictured in my head.

Last week, I bought a new pair of boots.  It seemed reasonable to retire the old pair after more than a decade, but I can’t say I love these new ones.  In fact, I’ve been debating returning them and taking my decrepit boots back down to Giovanni’s in the hopes they might be able to resurrect them for one last winter.

I walked by the storefront this morning, intending to ask one of the men behind the counter if the price and time frame for a repair remained the same.  As I opened the wrought iron gate, my feet froze.  There, in the otherwise empty window, hung a framed collage, photos of the absent German Sheppard.

I turned to leave, then spun to catch the heavy gate in my hand before it could swing shut, silencing the loud clang that would have otherwise announced my presence.


  1. Now it’s your turn to get me all choked up.

    Rest in peace old German Shepperd. I hope you got lots of nice bones to chew in that window in the sky.

  2. I’m so sorry, Honey. He must have known your old boots wouldn’t bring you back again, thus making it ok to move on to watch the gates for St. Peter.

    Love and CPU’s,

  3. Oh man, that’s sad. I mourn that happy doggie AND your old boots. It’s a sign. A SIGN. That you need to go home, eat a whole cake in remembrance of both, then strum some tunes.

    Seriously though, things like that, with the German Shepherd, do make me uncontrollably sad.

  4. shoe repair shops are becoming a thing of the past. I can’t find a local one anymore. The first really nice dress shoes I bought myself years ago were a pair of loafers. They were so well made, they lasted through 5 soles before being retired. Well worth what I paid for them.

    That is so sad about the puppy. German shepherds are beautiful dogs, well behaved, smart, and loyal. There is a lawyer’s office downtown in what used to be a small store. The display window has antique toys in it, and for years had an orange and white cat that would nap in the sun there. Not long ago I stopped seeing the cat. Maybe he has a new dog friend to keep him company in the storefront in the sky.

  5. If science would just perfect cloning, we could clone the good dogs. And your boots. And my favorite sweater with the holes in the elbows.

  6. damnit, elly. this took my calloused ass down. so sad. please don’t let the disney, pixar, or dreamworks people get their hands on this story, or i’ll have to suffer through these tears again.

    1. I’m with @pattypunker , when Pixar gets ahold of something good they turn the knife round and round till it’s got all your guts shredded.
      THat Carl and Ellie montage in the middle of UP made MINCED MEAT of my heart.
      My kids were mortified.
      This post was sad but on the upside it also featured many of my favorite things like sturdy old black boots, dogs and mom & pop corner shops.

  7. “…Always there’s that space between what you feel and what you do, and in that gap all human sadness lies….” –Blue Dog, George Rodrigue


  8. *Insert blubbering noises here*

    I never forgave my mom for having me watch Charlotte’s Web. I’ve never seen Bambi. Any movie with an animal in it is OFF limits for me. I think I need pills.

    Snuggle up with Mildred and give her a big smooch.

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