Gone to the Dogs


Son of

J. C. & H. F. SHY


Oct. 29, 1879

We Loved Our Boy

Riverside Cemetery and Fairmont Cemetery in Denver vied for the title of premier burial ground for Denver’s elite.  Riverside, however, was the older of the two and from the beginning had less restrictive codes for monuments erected in the cemetery in its early days. Fairmont had laid out their rules early on in its development.  Riverside hadn’t and therefore, the cemetery had a hodgepodge of markers made of many different kinds of materials, including “white bronze” which was actually zinc.  The zinc markers were expressly forbidden in the rival Fairmont Cemetery.

According to Annette Stott, author of Pioneer Cemeteries: Sculpture Gardens of the Old West, published by the University of Nebraska Press, Fairmont Cemetery was the larger of the two cemeteries.  Fairmont … had a fairly strict list of what kinds of monuments were acceptable, “No footstones … only gravestones and monuments made of granite, marble, or real bronze … no monument or grave marker will be admitted which is cut in imitation of dogs, cattle, or any grotesque figure.”  The implication being that these types of monuments which could be readily found in Riverside, “were inappropriate, perhaps even in vulgar taste.”

One such gravestone in the Riverside Cemetery was that of 13-year-old Frank Shy. Sheep ranchers, John and Hannah Shy, commissioned a white-washed marble dog to be placed on their son’s grave.  They tenderly inscribed it with the words, “We Loved Our Boy.”  This was not an unusual monument as carved dogs began to appear in American cemeteries in the first half of the 20th century.  According to Annette L. Student who researched and updated the pamphlet, Walk Through Historical Riverside Cemetery, (page 25), “the Shy Memorial, under a small elm tree, is a white marble monument topped with the sculpture of a dog.”  The dog was the pet of Frank Shy, and his parents wanted “their young son guarded in death by the dog he loved in life.”

While the Fairmont trustees may have thought the Shy Memorial vulgar, Riverside had the last laugh when the Hoeckel-Hutchinson family erected a monument featuring a dog no less in the Fairmont Cemetery!

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