Working like a dog: Illawarra pets in the workplace
There are no long, lonely stretches spent home alone for the ‘‘working’’ pets of the Illawarra.
Best friends and business partners – of sorts – they tag along with their owners to the salon, or the shop floor: tail-wagging attention-magnets able to light up the mundane and – sometimes – snag a sale.
At work, as at home, naps remain a priority. They curl up in slumber in a hidden place out back, or in plain sight of customers, who proffer ear scratches and delighted words, over and over again.
When it comes to business sense, some are more useful than others, but all enrich the lives of their owners by making work seem a little less like work. More than just animals, their unique partnerships say something about the human side that exists behind every working person’s professional facade.
If only the world could know us as our pets do.
Paolo, an English cocker spaniel with a penchant for Brazilian music, travels to work in a black convertible with the top down. He prefers to ride in the back seat. People in cars behind him break into smiles at the sight of his soft, golden ears flapping in the breeze. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
On staff at Wollongong’s Patrick Clifford Fine Appliances store, Paolo does his best to keep it professional. He sits opposite the boss and is included in all business meetings. ‘‘He walks around with papers in his mouth because he’s seen us doing it,’’ Clifford said. ‘‘He calls them ‘important documents’.’’ Picture: ADAM McLEAN
People are always fussing over this polite, honey-hued sales assistant, and sometimes Paolo finds his professional veneer slipping. He loves the attention. Handy with his paws, he will give the boss a look-at-me slap. A quick cheek-lick, perhaps. He’s in business all right – the charm business. Picture: ADAM McLEAN
At Peter Marx’s eclectically decorated Blukiss Hair Gallery, new customers are asked the usual: ‘‘Cut? Colour? Cat – are you allergic?’’ Eleven-year-old Akasha was originally intended for Marx’s niece, but it wasn’t to be. ‘‘She hopped up on my chest and put her nose to my nose and I think she marked me,’’ Marx said. ‘‘She was mine – or I was hers, more to the point.’’ Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Akasha moved into the salon after Marx started working in Sydney for part of the week. He realised he wasn’t seeing enough of his diva-ish feline friend. They would cross paths at night. He was tired from a day’s work; she would meow for food. ‘‘I would often find her just lounging,’’ Marx said. ‘‘An element of jealousy comes in.’’ Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
Oscar has been coming to work for 14 years alongside Rowena Boreland, owner of Crown Street Mall outdoor store Take a Hike. Arthritic now, his mind is still sharp. Boreland once went on an errand without telling the Jack Russell fox terrier to ‘‘stay’’. He searched the city for her, pausing at all the red lights en route to her empty home. He eventually found his way into a secure Burelli Street apartment complex, depositing himself on Boreland’s father’s lap. ‘‘He’s the smartest dog I know,’’ she said. Picture: ROBERT PEET
It was in puppyhood that Albie the Irish terrier received his first lessons in customer service. At Thirroul’s Egg and Dart gallery and art framing shop, he was at first ordered to return to his crate when a customer entered, so he would learn that their arrival didn’t signal playtime. ‘‘He’s an adult now – he breaks those rules occasionally,’’ said owner Aaron Fell-Fracasso. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR
Albie sleeps in the shop window with abandon – sometimes with his legs in the air, or belly pressed against the glass, seemingly drunk on afternoon sun. When the street outside fills with the sounds and activity of late afternoon, he knows home time is near and gives a suggestive nudge with his nose, hoping for a beach run. A recent visitor to the store spent 20 minutes talking to the handsome hound, who inspires many passers-by to stop for a round of How Much is That Doggy in the Window. ‘‘I said to him, ‘Stop bringing your friends around, we’re working,’’’ Fell-Fracasso said. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR