by Morgan Solomon
Gilly, a tan dog with big, pointed ears that look like they could hear for miles, peers around the legs of her owner, Leigh Ann Templeman. Her big eyes are wary yet excited; like she is happy to see you, but is not quite sure about your presence yet. She stands close to Leigh Ann, who is arranging some pottery on the shelf.
Leigh Ann owns Winterhawk Pottery & Home, a local Athens business on Macon Highway. Winterhawk Pottery was founded in 2000 by John Winterhawk. The pieces John created took inspiration from the artwork found in southeastern Native American burial and temple mounds. The pieces feature different images of mountains, bears, wolves and horses, all emphasized by rustic glazes and designs. John decided to retire in 2010 and Leigh Ann took over, continuing to create the beautiful pieces that represent Winterhawk Pottery. When the business relocated from Watkinsville to its’ current location, Leigh Ann introduced Winterhawk Home, a collection featuring home goods that complement the rustic pottery.
Gilly spends a good amount of time at the studio. When she is there, she does not leave Leigh Ann’s side; constantly following her, as though she is making sure Leigh Ann does not drop anything. If she ever did drop anything, Gilly’s big eyes seem to say that she would be there to catch it.
The Templeman family found Gilly and her two brothers on the side of the road in Rogersville, TN on December 30, 2010. They brought the three puppies back to Athens where they found homes for the boys and decided to keep the little girl. This was at the height of popularity of Kristen Wiig’s Saturday Night Live skit where she portrays Gilly, an interesting and humorous elementary school student who isconstantly causing trouble. Leigh Ann’s children had been quoting the skit all week, saying “Gilly?” in the same accusatory tone of Gilly’s teacher. The name seemed like a perfect fit for this silly puppy who still needed to grow into her ears.
Gilly’s unique name is not her only claim to fame. Over six years ago, Leigh Ann uploaded a video titled “Doggie Door Faceplant” to YouTube that features Gilly struggling to get her body through the doggie door, resulting in her doing a face plant. The video has over 300,000 views. The numerous views garnered a lot of attention, resulting in Gilly being offered multiple commercial deals. Her clip is featured in a Texas Wesleyan College commercial and one for Comcast XFINITY. Her big break even gave her the opportunity to bring in some money for her family.
Take a trip out to Winterhawk to have the opportunity to meet this charming star. As Gilly lays by Leigh Ann’s feet under the register, she looks up with big sweet eyes. Her timid and sweet personality does not give any hint that you are dealing with a local celebrity, but rather a look of concern about when her next treat is coming.