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All dogs go to heaven, especially Lefty

Lefty, the doggie mascot of Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines, sits in a chair at the bar.
Photo Courtesy of Anne Mathey
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Lefty, the mascot for Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines, passed away at the age of 15 this week.

Lefty, the beloved canine mascot for Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines, passed away this week at the age of 15. He will be sorely missed by musicians and central Iowa concertgoers alike.

He was the very goodest of boys.

“Today we said goodbye to our namesake and canine-in-chief Lefty Mathey,” read a post on the Lefty’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon. “He loved all his bar frens [sic] and I wish you all could have seen him one more time.”

Lefty the dog looks over taps at Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines.
Photo Courtesy of Anne Mathey
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Lefty, Lefty's Live Music's mascot, welcomes patrons to the venue on the bar.

In the comments of the post, stage performer and costume designer “go-go-Amy” of the Pretty Things Vaudeville Show said it best: “It can be stressful and scary trying to make people happy when you’re on stage. But there is nothing better [than] looking out into the audience and seeing Lefty’s cute face. Or sometimes seeing him join me onstage. He made more people happy [than] any performer I know and he will be missed.”

“I adopted Lefty in 2008,” said Lefty’s dog-mom and co-owner of Lefty’s Live Music Anne Mathey. Mathey had just bought a house and wanted a canine companion to run around her yard. She didn’t mind at all that Lefty was a tripod. “He had been walking on a frozen river in Marshalltown, and his leg broke through the ice. The Marshalltown fire department had to put on their wet-suits and army-crawl onto the river to rescue him.” That’s how Lefty lost his left front leg, and earned his moniker. “Animal Lifeline did the amputation (frostbite I’m assuming).”

“When we first opened Lefty’s Live Music,” continues Mathey, “Erik Brown (my partner) and I went round and round trying to find the perfect business name. We’d meet at my house and Lefty would always just be there hanging on the couch or whatever so we finally said ‘eff it.’ Name it after the dog, he’ll make a good mascot.”

Lefty was well known for hanging out around the venue with patrons and artists alike. He knew no strangers.

Local musician and recording artist Dang Felton shared a picture of the happy boy enthusiastically wagging his tail. “I believe there was food involved here,” he reflected. “The tail tells all. This was at my album release I believe. I was sitting all alone one night and Lefty came right up and sat next to me. Very cherished memories of the very good boy.”

Lefty gets belly rubs on the bar at Lefty's Live Music.
Courtesy of Anne Mathey
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Lefty gets belly rubs on the bar at Lefty's Live Music in Des Moines.

Artists and patrons proved their love for Lefty in 2020 when his gallbladder burst. A life-saving surgery was needed, but it was going to cost $12,000. “I posted a GoFundMe,” says Mathey, “and the DSM music community [and] bands across the country that had played Lefty’s and met him or stayed at my house when they came through town raised that [money] overnight. We were able to do the surgery and save his life.”

Mathey is grateful for the extra two years that surgery bought them together, but Lefty was already pushing 13-years-old. His age eventually crept up on him with continually debilitating diseases common in older dogs.

Lefty had one last camping trip. When he came home, Mathey knew it was time and made the heartbreaking decision most dog parents must go through. Lefty died peacefully at home with his family surrounding him. He was about 15-years-old.

“Rest in peace Lefty,” posts Des Moines musician and Lefty’s patron Bethany Joy Johnson. “No dog loved comedy and music more.”

Ryan O'Rien
Ryan O'Rien (Ryan Morris) is an independent musical artist, producer, promoter, and freelance writer. His latest EP is a collection of tunes based on the works of Shakespeare called Rich and Strange (ryanorien.com). He is a proud husband and father of two grade school aged kiddos. When not playing shows, Ryan is an avid listener and appreciator of local music.