Dogs and owners in America are barking excitedly about Pet Sitters International’s 6th Annual Take Your Dog to Work Day, being held on June 25, 2004. With approximately 65 million dogs reported as pets in U.S. households, more and more people are bringing their canine pals along for a day at the office.
And why shouldn’t they? Studies have shown that bringing Fido to work can create a more relaxed and productive work environment. According to the American Animal Hospital’s Association’s 2002 Survey of people and Relationships, 76% of pet owners surveyed believe their pets reduce stress on the job. Looking into those big puppy-dog eyes, seeing your furry pal do something silly, watching your beloved pet napping peacefully by your side… you feel your nerves calming, stress leaving your body and a surge of positive and creative energy.
Along with motivating their human companions, doggies in the workplace can inspire the adoption of pets in need of loving homes. Patti Moran, president of Pet Sitter’s International says, “People bringing their dogs to work for one day to celebrate Take Your Dog to Work Day can make a huge difference in the adoption rates at shelters in North America. Dog-less co-workers will see the human-animal bond enjoyed by their colleagues who are dog parents – and then adopt pets from local animal shelters.”
If you are a dog owner and have your boss’s approval (or if you are the boss), consider taking your pet to work this summer. Last year, PSI had over 10,000 requests for information on how to participate in the event. While some managers were hesitant to allow pooches at first, the majority stated that it was a great experience and they would participate again.
Story one: Boo and Baxter: Personal Managers, At Your Service
As Personal Manager for high profile performing and recording artists including Tesla, Survivor and Styx, Charlie Brusco is responsible for an artist’s entire career at TBA Entertainment. Talk about pressure! Timing is critical in his business and he makes certain everything works like a well-oiled machine. From an album’s release, to its promotion and publicity, to the concert tour schedule and details, Brusco helps his clients stay organized and on top.
Each day, he is on the phone making deals or working out the fine details with clients, agents, promoters, record companies and “anyone who has something to do with any of the artists he manages.” There is no such thing as “close of business day” with Brusco’s job. When an artist is out of town and there is a problem, someone has to fix it.
Thankfully, Brusco gets a hand, or paw, from his two, four-legged companions named Boo and Baxter. Boo, an 81/2 -year-old “Lhasa-Poo” (cross breed of Lhasa Apso and Poodle), and Baxter, a 3-year-old Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, offer much needed comic relief during a “ruff” day at the office. “In the middle of a stressful day, they’ll do something stupid and everybody will laugh,” says Brusco. The pair can completely transform the mood with their canine behaviors, whether it is accidentally throwing up or barking in the middle of an intense meeting.
Baxter’s affectionate nature helps “break the ice” with clients and colleagues, especially when he jumps onto their lap. Brusco laughs, “It wasn’t bad when he was 20 or 25 pounds, but now he is up to 55 pounds and solid too.” Boo, on the other hand, prefers a quieter and more relaxingworkday. After she arrives at work, she jumps and collapses on the large leather couch in Brusco’s office. You can find her napping there most of the day, making the staff quite envious.
Having Boo and Baxter at the office has “created its own monster,” admits Brusco. When their parents are on the road with artists 4 to 10 days out of the month, these dogs receive star treatment. A staff member personally escorts them to and from the office. These doggies spend the day in an environment they are comfortable with and with staff who loves them.
Brusco’s decision to take his pets to work every day was influenced by the location of his office, which is situated in a garden-style complex. Brusco can enter directly without having to walk through a common entrance area, which may prohibit pets. Additionally, taking Boo and Baxter to work is ideal because Brusco and his wife work together and spend most of the day at the office. One of Brusco’s employees also thought the idea was a splendid one and began bringing his dog Mabel to TBA Entertainment. Mabel, who is part Labrador Retriever and part Pit Bull, is now Baxter’s best pal and partner-in-crime.
Although there are many rewards to having Boo and Baxter at the office, there has been some adjustment. This has been mostly due to Baxter, who is “always poking around the office, looking to get into some kind of trouble” and has some interesting habits, including barking at the mailman, Brusco says. Baxter has a “huge, loud bark,” particularly when the mailman is delivering mail. Needless to say, the mail is now delivered outside the office!
The office employees also know not to leave any food within the dog’s grasp, whether during a staff meeting or an office party. While Boo is too small to reach the tables, Baxter and Mabel are tall and stealth enough to reach up and run away with goodies before anyone knows they are there. During a birthday party for one of the employees, Baxter ate half of the birthday cake and a half order of mashed potatoes. Brusco says, “They don’t care whose it is or what it is, if it’s food, they’ll go after it.”
Though they have their moments, Boo and Baxter add something special to the work mix, which only animals can bring. Their very different, but unique personalities keep everyone at TBA entertained!
— Elena Primost
Story Two: Doctor Maggie Mae Will See You Now… Pets at Work Is Just What the Doctor Ordered!
Life in Manhattan can be very hectic, especially in a busy podiatrist’s office. With walking being the number one way of getting around in the city that never sleeps and never stops. Dr. Oliver Zong’s downtown Manhattan, Wall Street practice is filled with corporate types in stylish high heels and pointy shoes.
“When your feet hurt, everything hurts,” says Dr. Zong, whose patients are often in a hurry to get back to their high-powered jobs in their high-powered heels. “With many of our high profile patients grumpy and complaining about their “barking dogs and painful tootsies” taking valuable time out of their day to visit our office to receive a quick whirlpool and pampered foot care, I sometimes believe that the fate of Wall Street may be in our hands,” he says chuckling. With a wry smile he adds, “The stock market is up and so are mergers and acquisitions, so we must be doing a good job.”
But that’s not the only reason to visit Dr. Zong’s office. The star of the practice is Dr. Maggie Mae, the pug who runs the show. The patients love her. They bring her treats, toys, little sweaters and lots of love. They even call just to find out how she is doing.
Case in point – after the recent blackout this summer, Dr. Zong received calls from many of his patients asking how Maggie Mae was doing while scheduling an appointment. “Their feet hurt, they didn’t care how I was doing, but they all wanted to make sure poor little Maggie didn’t have to do too much walking on her pawsies. I tell them she’s in the whirlpool having a treatment and a massage.”
There’s no absence of stress in running two successful practices in lower Manhattan, an area that is rebuilding after the tragic events of a few years ago. “Everybody is busy, patients, doctors, office staff, everyone. But no matter what kind of day I am having, good, bad, or frustrating, just a glance from Maggie Mae with her little head cocked to the side brings me back to Earth. I cherish those moments when I can rub her belly and play with her during the day. She’s my stress relief and she reminds me to have fun.”
Dr. Zong says that bringing your pet to work may just be what the doctor ordered. “I never knew how much she added to our office environment until one day when we did not bring her to work. The office staff missed her. The patients all asked what happened to her hoping she was ok. And I missed her. The doorman, mailman, UPS man and cleaning staff all asked about her. She hasn’t missed a day of work since.” Maggie now has her own set of scrubs and greets patients as they arrive in the reception area. She loves people as all Pugs do and instantly takes to the patients, new or old (although she does frown on HMO’s).
“When she was a puppy, we used to leave her at home. After a week of coming home to the unconditional love and tail wagging of a pug and having to leave that sad face in the morning, we decided to start bringing her to work. We set up an area where she can roam freely in the back of the office behind the reception area and have never looked back. Not only is she good for my blood pressure, but she keeps me grounded. Whether you’re making a million dollar deal, trading stocks or performing a foot facelift (Dr. Zong’s unique brand of foot surgery), you can never get a big head,” says Dr. Zong laughing, “because when she looks at you and says take me out, everyone looks the same picking up doggie doo-doo.”
— Lyndsay King
Story Three: Canine Colleagues Bark Their Way to the Top: Pooches Keep Fashion Designers on Their Toes at New York Dog
Caution: Dogs at Play, reads the sign that greets all guests and clients exiting the elevator into the 2000 square foot office of New York Dog in NYC. Although it’s meant to be taken seriously! In this office, five fearless canines oversee the day-to-day rigors of running a successful design house, and still find time for napping! Oh, and a few human associates help them along the way.
New York Dog, a lifestyle apparel and accessories collection for canines, was borne five years ago and with it a whole new company dynamic – canine staffing. Co-founders Pamela Podell and Meltem Bozkurt are not only two savvy entrepreneurs, but also dog owners, lovers and enthusiasts. So it was only natural that their tail-wagging counterparts be involved in the company.
New York Dog emerged on the fashion scene pioneering the way for pooch-couture. The sassy in-house canine staff barked their way up the ladder, taking over the daily operations while inspiring the human founders to create chic and functional product ideas.
As the Office Manager, Casey Podell, a four-year-old Yorkie, receives all deliveries via messenger, small package courier and the US Postal Service with fervor. Sometimes a bit too much fervor…watch your ankles, please! Casey also keeps a detailed inventory list of all toys at New York Dog and holds herself personally responsible for testing each and every toy in the showroom.
Gigi Bozkurt, an eight-year-old Maltese, began as a model at New York Dog but soon proved she had the brains to match the beauty. A gracious hostess, Gigi greets all visitors and clients upon arrival and escorts them to the showroom where she flawlessly models collars, leashes and coats with ease.
Lola Bozkurt, a playful one-year-old Maltese, makes the camera melt with her playful pout. Influenced greatly by her supermodel sister Gigi, Lola has really come into her own on the fashion scene. Her passion for living life to the fullest inspires all New York Dog employees, both human and canine.
Chelsea Podell, the office gossip at only six months, is a very persuasive Havanese. Hired recently as an intern, Chelsea can get even the most tight-lipped staff members to open up with her bright eyes and provocative tail-wag.
A part-time Human Resources Manager, Logan Podell, an eight-month-old Havanese, is eager to please all employees and listens intently to all grievances. She’s even mandated a three o’clock office belly rub; it stimulates body circulation and motivates employees to work another three to four hours!
Human staff members at New York Dog have been extremely receptive to working so closely with their canine co-workers. Having such playful and loving creatures in the workplace has brought production to an all time high. Employees unanimously agree that working with dogs makes their lives more enjoyable – they laugh more often and complain much less. Maybe more companies should let themselves go to the dogs!
— Barbara Boyle
Story Four: Greta Hamil, Supermodel and Muse of the Furry Persuasion Struts Her Stuff On and Off the Runway
Neil Hamil’s workday begins with phone calls from associates in Paris and London before the doors open to his office in New York City. Before he can blink, it’s time to talk with affiliates in Brazil and LA before ending the evening with calls to offices in Japan and Australia. He is not a currency trader or international political consultant. Describing his job as “Fashion Storm,” Neil Hamil is the Executive Vice President of Ford Models, one of the most recognized and respected modeling agencies.
Hamil is responsible for managing the Women’s and Celebrity divisions of Ford and its top clients that include supermodels Stephanie Seymour, Veronica Webb and Frederique Van Der Wal. In his non-stop and sometimes neurotic environment, he finds comfort and support from a two-year-old, 17-pound Miniature Schnauzer named Greta, who is the apple of his eye. After spotting his muse in a pet shop on Christopher Street in New York City, Hamil admits it was love at first sight. “She stopped playing and looked me dead in the eye, tail wagging!”
Since their first encounter, Greta’s “very sweet, loving, affectionate, and friendly” personality has been keeping Hamil sane in the stressful world of modeling and high fashion. When she is not at the office with him, this busy executive can’t stop thinking about his furry friend. “I miss her. I even travel with her when it makes sense or is possible. I hate being away from her, and even though she spends lots of days at doggie day care and I can watch her via the Internet, I need her!” Spoken like a true dad.
However, going to Ford Models is not only Hamil’s idea. Greta loves the company and scent of females and there are plenty at the agency who bestow scratches and rubs upon her. According to Hamil, “She likes the way they smell – sweet!” Greta eats up their attention and enjoys being the star of the office. Hamil admits, “Word travels throughout the agency that she is ‘in’ and ‘receiving’ and everyone comes to see her.”
Hamil especially likes to take Greta to the office on grooming days, when he can show her off after she has been bathed and primped. Though she may not be wearing couture on the runway, Greta occasionally dresses up. For Halloween last year, she was a cowgirl. Hamil proudly exclaims, “She has a catwalk style to rival Naomi’s!”
Colleagues and staff love having this Mini Schnauzer around. “As I’m the boss…um…they all love pets, especially dogs, and Schnauzers in particular,” Hamil laughs. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Hamil’s “kid” as he calls Greta, has lovely manners. Her dad marvels at her behavior. “She is always so good. Even the vet can’t believe it. She is a non-barking Schnauzer.” Since he began bringing her to the office, Hamil says that he’s never had a problem with Greta. “Not once. Ever. Those obedience classes really are worth every nickel.”
A typical day for Greta at the agency consists of “visits, snacks and naps” and then more of the same. When it is time to drift off and get some shut-eye, she curls up facing the door, “always ready to protect her daddy!” But, her true contribution to the modeling world is motivational in nature. She’s been to the studios of many top photographers and has inspired the creative process. While at Michael Thompson’s studio on a very long shoot day, Greta entertained the crew by her intrigue of Thompson’s in-floor fish tank, filled with carp swimming by. This cute canine got more attention than the models!
Since she is treated and regarded as Hamil’s baby, business associates and models “inquire about her as they would any child,” Hamil says. “I never speak to Veronica Webb without her asking how Greta is and I ask her how Leyla Rose is (her human daughter!).” Hamil jokes, the models “worship her, well the ones that care about their careers do!” Greta has spent much time with “Aunt Teffie” (that’s supermodel Stephanie Seymour). It can’t hurt a model’s career to give Greta extra rubs and scratches.
At the end of the day, though his day never truly ends, Hamil has a special companion in Greta. He explains, “I know I have at least one person completely on my side.” Greta is even regarded as a person! Now, that’s love!
— Elena Primost
Story Five: The Fairmont Guides Dogs to a Meaningful Career
If you are an environmentally conscious traveler, Animal Fair has just the place for you to stay on your next vacation. Fairmont Hotel & Resorts is greatly concerned about their hotel operations and its effects on the environment. The Green Partnership Program was established to reduce any harmful effects by making improvements in areas from waste management to water conservation. Other important Fairmont programs include raising money for Endangered Species Protection and Community Outreach Programs. The most recent and “petacular” program, in which the majority of the forty-three Fairmont Hotel & Resorts are involved, is volunteer Puppy Raisers for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
On March 22, 2004, the Fairmont Washington, DC welcomed their first resident canine – a puppy named Marcie. For the next 18 to 24 months, this beautiful black lab will have a loving and comfortable part-time home in the hotel lobby while the staff helps prepare Marcie as a future guide dog. Come evenings, she is taken home with her foster companion, Director of Hotel Operations, Tracy Difulgo. I asked Tracy if she got to name the dog. She bent over Marcie and pulled back her left ear to show me a tattoo of a blue letter “M”. Tracy explained to me that Guiding Eyes names the animals based on what letter of the alphabet they are on when the litter arrives and Marcie and her littermates were up to the letter “M”. Marcie is not the only animal to receive the VIP (very important pet) treatment at Fairmont Washington DC. Fairmont Hotel & Resorts host canine guests as well as their human companions. Upon arrival visiting pets receive healthy treats made by the hotel’s Executive Chef, plus bottled water and a placemat.
To make their visit more enjoyable, Fairmont Washington DC provides practical items such as maps to nearby parks, pet-friendly restaurants, cafes and stores along with a special red paw door sign so Brutus can take a “catnap” undisturbed. Best of all, the Fairmont Washington DC does not charge for pets. For guests who do check in with pets, Fairmont Washington DC will donate five percent of the room rate to Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
The Fairmont Washington DC is an ideal place to assist Marcie with her socialization and puppy manners. Pets and their human companions can stop by and say hello to Marcie each day. It’s a very important commitment to Tracy as she combines her regular duties at the hotel with making time to socialize Marcie with people and inanimate objects. Marcie must be introduced to five new items each week ranging from people and other animals to fire hydrants and sidewalk grates. Marcie must not be afraid of anyone or anything. Tracy is responsible for teaching Marcie all necessary guide dog skills according to the Guiding Eyes guidelines. Guiding Eyes training program works on pure praise; although treats are allowed, none are given in response to a successful task.
Tracy and Marcie attend training classes every other week along with other potential guide dogs and their handlers living in the same vicinity. Quarterly evaluations are made to monitor Marcie’s progress. Once it is determined that Marcie will make a good guide dog after the 24-month learning period, she will be returned to Guiding Eyes for an intense five month training schedule. If however, it is determined that Marcie does not have the confidence essential to a good guide dog then, as the Puppy Raiser, Tracy has first option to adopt the animal for herself. Once Marcie successfully completes the training, she will be given to a special person where together they will get to know each other and work as a team over a three-week period. Marcie and her new partner will then attend a special graduation ceremony to celebrate her achievement.
I asked Tracy how she will feel when the time comes to give up Marcie. She states, “…it will be hard, but I know I am doing something good for someone in need. She will be leaving to do the task she was born for.” Tracy won’t have to feel too sad about Marcie’s impending absence. Raisers are invited to their dog’s graduation and will also have the opportunity to meet the dog’s new partner and keep in touch with updates on the dog’s progress.
Guiding Eyes determines the needs of visually impaired individuals and offers a guide dog to those in need, free of charge. Stipulations are that one is at least 16 years of age – mature enough to take care of the animal. The cost to raise and train a seeing eye dog runs about $40,000 a year, so volunteers are very much welcomed. One is required to take training classes and commit to the program for up to 24 months.
Animal Fair sends well wishes to all guide dogs and their handlers on their journey to help special individuals in becoming more independent in their lives.
Story Six: Sasha and Vegas: Creative Consultant to Bumber Card Designs
Do you ever wish that you had a fun, simple way to keep in touch with your loved ones? Well, Michelle Burry, one of the two female animators for the famed cartoon South Park, thought the same thing and created Bumper Cards. Michelle took her cartoon illustrator expertise and transferred them from the television to the page. Bumper Cards is a custom line of stationary, with a focus on animal themed invitations, flat note cards, gift stickers and return address labels.
Michelle’s muse, her beloved German Shepherd Sasha, was the inspiration for her designs. Being an animal lover herself, she could think of no better way to express herself on her new line of stationary. Since an artist should never be far away from her inspiration, Sasha works right alongside Michelle at the Bumper Cards office. Already having worked at the South Park office, Sasha seemed the best candidate for the job at Bumper Cards. Michelle said Sasha is a great to have around, admitting, “Sasha’s a big talker and an even bigger flirt.”
After working alongside Sasha for a year and a half, Michelle enjoyed the help of her pet so much, she decided to rescue her second German Shepherd, Vegas. “He is the biggest, sweetest marshmallow,” Michelle gushes. However, Vegas is a little more untrusting of people, so when he was able to spend time at the South Park office, Michelle admits, “He spent his time protecting me while hiding under my desk.” It never hurts to have a little security at the office.
Since the South Park office instated a “No Dogs” policy, Sasha and Vegas take a long, well-deserved vacation while Michelle is away drawing for South Park. However, “at the Bumper Cards office, Sasha and Vegas, are free to roam and in fact are often in charge.” Like all bosses, Sasha and Vegas need to make sure everything is running smoothly in the office. “They can be quite demanding at times,” explains Michelle, “and always want things done yesterday, but for the most part they treat us well and have really developed a friendly environment.”
All of Sasha and Vegas’ work experience has taught them to make sure the office has regular staff meetings to review new projects. “At least once a week we have team building seminars. They usually take place outside and involve chasing tennis balls and rolling in the grass. Somehow I always get stuck bringing the snacks.”
With its care, creativity and desirable designs, Bumper Cards are the next best way to keep in touch with those you don’t often have the luck of bumping into. If you are looking for something with a touch of personal style, you’ll love the Bumper Custom varieties, which include your choice of design and your or your pet’s personal information. Sasha and Vegas know it is important for dogs to keep up with their loved ones too.
Since our busy lives often get in the way of keeping in touch with those we care about, Bumper Cards has created “Emergency Kits.” These are variety packs of greeting cards for all occasions. So, whether you need to wish someone a happy birthday, a speedy recovery or just remind your friend how much you love her, you will never be without the right card. The variety packs come in four different themes; dog lovers, cat lovers and basic simplicity, all retailing at $15.00. The fourth design is a special edition handmade kit through the “Bumper Cares” division, which raises funds for Breast Cancer Research, retailing at $25.00. This division is devoted to helping causes that aid in the improvement of the quality of life.
— Katy Parnello
For the Best that Pet Lifestyle and Animal Welfare has to offer follow Wendy and Lucky Diamond on Facebook, Twitter, and right here at AnimalFair.com!