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Working Like A Dog- A dog on the job makes work feel less like work

By Tara Cavanaugh Originally printed 2/24/2011 (Issue 1908 – Between The Lines News)

┬áTrout the customer service representative will be happy to take care of all your needs at Orion Automotive in Ann Arbor – as long as those needs are playing, petting and getting wet kisses.

Trout is a 10-year-old Australian Shepherd who comes to work every day with the auto shop’s owner, Richard Cox. Cox has brought Trout with him to work since he was a puppy.

Trout loves his job. In fact, he’s downright “despondent” if he has to stay home, Cox says. And Cox prefers Trout to be around, too: “I definitely don’t have as much fun at work if he’s not here.”

Cox is just one owner who says bringing a pet to work makes it easier to get through the day. Pets on the job don’t only make their owners feel great – like Trout, they have a special way of connecting with customers too.

B.C. Cabangbang, owner of Cho-Zen by B.C. in Royal Oak, says his 7-year-old miniature poodle, Jazper, has a fan club of his own. “Some people come just to pet my dog. And some bring their own dogs to visit too,” he says. Cabangbang thinks customers are so drawn to Jazper because he’s so low-key: Jazper likes to lounge on one of the couches in the home decor store, and customers are often surprised to discover he’s not a stuffed animal.

Lucy and Gracie, two dogs at Abracadabra Jewelry in Ann Arbor, also enjoy the company of adoring fans who stop by just to see them. Lucy is an excitable one-year-old bearded collie, and Gracie is a subdued 8-year-old Havanese. Every Thursday, a customer comes in just to walk Lucy, says Katherine Lessee, the store owner. The child of another pair of customers stops by on his walk home from school, just to give Lucy and Gracie treats. “They definitely have their own fan base,” Lessee says.

Sometimes, dogs can become one of the business’s main attractions. “Some people come here just because I have the dogs,” says Sarah Okuyama, owner of the Burnt Toast Inn, a bed and breakfast in Ann Arbor. At first glance, the dogs, both the size of small ponies, seem like they’d scare visitors away. But Okuyama says Bo, a 100-pound Mastiff Rhodesian, and Buddy, a 200-pound St. Bernard, are as much a draw to her inn as the comfy beds and comfort food. They make her inn seem like a home away from home for the guests, she says, especially for those who have dogs of their own.

Comfort is key at a veterinarian’s office, where owners and pets alike can feel stressed. Joy, a Portuguese water dog, hangs out in the Canton clinic every day, and her main job is to help patients relax.

“She is a nice distraction for any situation,” says Joy’s owner, Beth Petty, who’s been the clinic receptionist for 17 years. “Whether it’s someone who is feeling anxious because of a sick pet, or if it’s a young child thinking the clinic is a pediatrician’s office, Joy is there.”

Joy, along with the dogs the clinic employees bring in, provides a momentary distraction from the work day, says Petty: “It’s only a momentary distraction, there’s nothing more to it. It energizes the employee and the pet. It’s a positive thing.”

Best of all, she says, dogs make the clinic “a fun environment. They’re characters, they have their quirkiness, and it brings a smile to your face while you’re at work if you have a dog walk up, give you a big kiss and walk away.”

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