Dog days

Dog days

For one local garage and its owners, a shepherd mix helps staff their local institution

PUTNEY — Since her arrival a decade ago, Shylo, an elkhound/German shepherd mix, has become a familiar sight for many at Rod's Towing and Repairs.

Originally from the Windham Humane Society, Shylo can now be seen every day following Garrett Winchester around the auto shop or resting in the shade.

“She's a rescue, so she was a bit skittish at first,” said Garrett, “but she settled in quickly enough.”

Shylo comes into the shop at 40 Main St. with Garrett for full workdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours, she lives with the Winchester family on their farm in West Brattleboro.

Rod's was established 52 years ago by Garrett's grandfather, who now works on the family farm. The Winchesters have run it as an independent gas station and auto shop ever since, eschewing the standard franchised convenience-store model of most other gas stations.

Vicky Winchester, who runs the books for Rod's, said “Back when Rod's started, most gas stations were independent. But really, selling gas is our smallest source of revenue.”

The other revenue streams she mentions come from standard auto maintenance and repair, spare parts, and other odd jobs around town. Vicky observed that Rod's uses their expertise and equipment such as tow trucks to assist with jobs most people can't do.

That diverse range of services came in handy several years back, when Shylo slipped out of the Winchesters' car in Brattleboro and wandered away. The search was crowdsourced with regular Facebook updates from people who recognized Shylo from the auto shop and who sent updates on her location to the Winchesters.

Shylo was recovered in Marlboro, and returned to Garrett's side, where she has remained, following him anywhere, from the shop to weddings to canoeing. Though not unfriendly, she tends to avoid shop visitors.

“She has people chasing after her all day trying to pet her,” Garrett said, “so when she goes up to somebody, it's a bit of a special occasion.”

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