A beloved family pet will be posthumously honored on a Merrill mural.
Smokie, entered by Linda Bergh, will represent “Jack the Trolley Dog” on a mural being painted on the side of the Blooming Wishes building on East First Street by a group of Merrill High School art students.
There were 23 dogs entered in the contest, put on by Blooming Wishes and the Merrill Historical Society. The public was invited to vote for their favorite dog with a donation. The dog with the most funds raised at the end of the contest would have its likeness painted on the mural.
The contest ended in a voting war between Smokie and one other dog.
“It was a close race up until the very end,” said Brenda Wendt, co-owner of Blooming Wishes.
In all, the “Jack the Trolley Dog” contest raised over $3,000, which will help support the Merrill Historical Society and defray the costs of painting the mural.
The mural depicts an early Merrill trolley, with a spot reserved for “Jack.” The Merrill Railway & Lighting Company operated a street car system in Merrill from 1890 until the end of 1919. It was one of the earliest street railways in the state and was responsible for a number of innovations. The March 12, 1901 issue of The Merrill Advocate carried a story of a dog named Jack who rode the street car to visit his girlfriend on the opposite side of town.
Smokie passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 17. The Berghs had adopted him from the Humane Society when he was nine months old. In her entry form, Linda said, “He loved to go for rides and I’m sure he would have been very successful riding on a trolley or a bus.”
Linda said her family, friends and co-workers pitched in to vote Smokie to the win.
“It means a lot,” Linda said. “We had family calling in from around the country to donate. My mother gave a donation in memory of my dad who also passed away in 2012, he always really liked Smokie.”