Espresso Royale has lost one of its most loyal patrons: Chip.
Dinkytown’s resident dog — who found a second home within the cafe over the last seven years — passed away from lymphoma on June 29. He was just a week shy of his 12th birthday.
Alongside his owner, Louie Tran, the orange-and-white Brittany could almost always be seen strolling between tables and chairs looking for pats and scratches, sprawled out on the sidewalk or chowing down on a whipped cream “puppuchino.” dog treat.
“He became such a vital part of the cafe after a while,” Tran said. “That's one of the main reasons I come back.”
The dog even has his own portrait, which was painted by a past barista for his tenth birthday, hanging on an inside wall.
With his flexible schedule as a handyman, Tran was able to spend almost all of his time with Chip. He estimates they were only apart for around eight to ten days during their entire lives together.
“He was like my best friend,” Tran said. “He was like a son to me.”
In addition to sharing a birthday, the home-trained psychiatric service dog gave Tran a sense of calm.
“Just being able to look in his eyes, I can see the love that he has,” he said. “He really lifts my spirit up.”
Reminiscing about a heart-shaped coloration in his fur, Tran said Chip exuded love and kindness to all of the students and local residents he met.
“That was the one feature I always noticed,” Tran said. “He was a lover, and that's why he loves everybody — he has that heart on his head.”
Even after his death, Chip is providing Tran comfort. Two days after Chip’s passing, Tran saw another Brittany — a breed he had never seen, other than Chip, during his many years in Dinkytown — sitting at Wally’s.
“I was never one of those people who believed in signs,” he said. “So, when I told my friends, they said it was just Chip letting me know he's doing well.”
Almost exactly one month after Chip's passing, Tran got a new puppy: Jaspen.
Tran is excited for the future with Jaspen, but still sometimes catches himself comparing the two pups, talking about Chip in the present tense and missing his old companion.
“Even though he was my dog, he was like the community's dog, too,” Tran said. “He just became Dinkytown's dog. Everyone around here knew him, and I think everybody has a little Chip story.”