His Master’s Voice, ‘Til the Very End

With all due respect for August, these are the dog days of summer.

They are at least for Gerry Botwinick, whose august feelings for Barney Bear Schulman, the prominent pet mascot who was the official greeter at Botwinick's long-running eponymous clothier store in Jenkintown, are clearly evident in the announcement that Barney, a 15-year-old Bijon Frise, had died of cancer the same day — June 17 — that the 92-year-old store closed its doors for good.

Everyone who came into the store knew Barney, whose owner is actually Ken Schulman. For customer and crew, however, Barney and Botwinick's were a perfect match.

"He arrived to greet customers at the age of 6 weeks — just a pup — and continued for 15 years," says Botwinick, who insists that Barney "was part-human."

And definitely all Jewish: "He wouldn't eat treif, only Jewish food," says his self-described "godfather" of the "furry person" known to thousands.

Is it possible that Barney saw the end — of the business — coming after Botwinick's had been in existence long enough for its own Bar Mitzvah (13 in dog years)?

"Absolutely," says Botwinick. "I have a feeling that he held on until we closed. He knew."



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