Office pets on the job

Hard at work, Sylar, a Manchester terrier, gets a wash from his owner, Brenna Shoultz, at her Renaissance Pet Boutique and Spa in North Bend. Shoultz says baths are not just for ‘pampered’ house dogs. - Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Hard at work, Sylar, a Manchester terrier, gets a wash from his owner, Brenna Shoultz, at her Renaissance Pet Boutique and Spa in North Bend. Shoultz says baths are not just for ‘pampered’ house dogs.
— image credit: Dan Catchpole / Snoqualmie Valley Record

They sleep on the job, curl up under their desks and lick the staff.

Yet, these Valley co-workers will probably never get fired.

Call them office pets, work dogs or cubicle cats, these animals bring a lot to the workplace, keeping employees, owners and customers at Valley businesses relaxed and productive. Some animals help close a sale every now and then.

Meet just a few of the office pets of the Snoqualmie Valley.

Working dog

Wiry and sleek, Manchester terriers were bred as tenacious hunters. During the Victorian Age, they earned their keep killing rats. It is hard to miss the breed’s distinctively angular face and short black and tan coat. They are one of the oldest — and possibly, the oldest — recognized breed, and they’ve been working the whole time.

Even now in North Bend, there’s a Manchester terrier, Sylar, working at Renaissance Pet Boutique and Spa, but his job is much cushier than those of his ancestors.

Walking into Renaissance Spa, you hear Sylar long before you see him on his bed in a nook behind the counter. But his bark is far bigger than his 20-pound frame, and he doesn’t seem to have a bite at all.

“Everyone knows him as ‘the growler’ or ‘the barker’,” said Brenna Shoultz, Skylar’s owner. She and her husband, Tim, opened Renaissance almost two years ago. The self-serve pet grooming facility and pet boutique has done well ever since, with around 130 dogs getting baths every month. The store’s customer base is over 1,000 different dogs.

A trip to the spa isn’t just for pampered house dogs, said Shoultz. Construction workers who bring their dogs to work and stop by to wash the mud off on their way home. Cattle dogs come in as well, and even a few show cats.

Skylar greets them all.

“He works. He models the clothes and the bed,” she said, patting the red, plush bed Sylar was curled up on.

If a customer is considering buying a dog bed, but is worried what iat will look like in a little while, Shoultz points to Sylar’s bed, which is still bright red, despite being two years old.

“He’s sort of a salesman. I guess I could promote him to that,” she says, adding that he occasionally helps finalize sales.

“A dog store without a dog is boring,” she said.

Shoultz has two other dogs as well, but only Sylar clocks in everyday. She brings her boxer, Kona, occasionally, but usually leaves her home to keep her pit bull, Natch, company. Shoultz tried bringing Natch to the store, but too many people had negative views of pit bulls.

Most dogs don’t mind getting bathed, and there are many positive health aspects to regular baths, .

Shoultz walks ‘newbie’ dog washers through each step, teaching them about which brushes to use or how to clean a dog’s ears.

“Its the humans who need the training,” she said, laughing, while Skylar curled up on his bed for a ‘break’.

Bad Girl mascot

Bad Girls Antiques is full of old and pretty things – patent medicine bottles, bits of Americana, geography primers from the early 1900s, retro ceramic and glass sculptures, lustrous mahogany 1940s furniture, art deco curios and rooms and rooms of other finds.

But the shops’ biggest draw isn’t for sale.

It’s Paige, the store’s 18-year-old feline mascot. She isn’t the oldest thing in the shop, but many customers think she’s far and away the prettiest one. The store’s owner, Jeanne Marie Klein receives many requests to post more pictures of Paige on the store’s Web site.

Paige is spry for her age, jumping onto the counter while Klein conducts transactions.

The store has always had a cat since Klein opened it 26 years ago. Not long after opening, Klein found an abandoned calico kitten behind the building. The cat, which she named Jenny, was the store’s mascot for 12 years.

“Then Paige came along. She needed a home and I needed a cat,” Klein said.

Some antique stores are very staid and formal. Bad Girls, as its name connotes, is decidedly not like that, and Paige’s presence makes it feel more like a home and more approachable, she said.

“I think Paige makes it more real — you too could have this in your house,” she said.

Sitting on the counter, Paige meowed in agreement.

“I have had to stop handling upholstered furniture. You can cover it up at night, but if I forget, she will shred them,” Klein said.

Oliver’s job

Oliver, the English sheepdog at Birches Habitat in North Bend, works a six-day week.

His official jobs are “greeter and director of sales,” store co-owner Steve Wray said.

Oliver is buddy to Wray and his wife, Nancy, who opened the eclectic gift store downtown last November.

“He always goes to work with me,” Wray said. Oliver “pretty much lays around and looks for loving.” He appreciates a good scratch from anyone who comes in the store.

Oliver’s favorite workstation is laying down by the greeting card rack. Few customers have ever been bothered by him. If someone ever has an issue with the dog, he can take a ‘rest break’ in the back office.

Oliver also takes Wray on a walk a few times a day, allowing his owner to get a quick time-out from the job.

Wray said he’s always had jobs that allowed him to take Oliver with him.

Having an office pet around is very relaxing, Wray said.

He offers some advice to other office pet owners.

“Don’t ignore them. Make them part of the group,” Wray said. “Don’t just leave them alone the whole time, to their own devices. It’s supposed to be quality time for both of you.”

Big ears

Most pets come to Snoqualmie Ridge Veterinary Hospital for help.

But Dobby, a miniature Doberman Pinscer, hangs out at the office with his owner, veterinary assistant Jen Johnson.

The small chocolate-brown dog gets walked a couple of times a day and sleeps in his kennel. Having Dobby at work — and not home alone — relaxes Johnson.

Named by her son for a large-eared, manic elf in the Harry Potter book series, his big pointed ears perk up when Johnson’s co-workers say ‘hi’ to him.

Dobby certainly enjoys coming to work.

“He knows every morning when it’s time to go. He hops in the car,” Johnson said.

When he’s on the go, Dobby is a ball of energy.

“He’s 100 percent energy, 24/7,” Johnson said.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.