Pets at Work:
Working Class Dogs
Canine Friends, Chinchillas, Pythons, and More that
Spend Their Days at the Office
By Carla Turchetti
Photos by Ginny Williams Photography
(Above image by creative director Lori Lay: her dog Waffles, helping with design)
Sadie is a three-year-old golden retriever who has become the front door greeter at CorePower Yoga where her human mom, Jackie Skinner, is the manager.
“She is a full golden retriever but she is the runt of the litter, so she is only 40 pounds,” Skinner says. “And about a year ago she started to faint when we went on walks.”
Veterans at NCSU diagnosed Sadie with dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart condition. She is on medication three times a day, and doctors are not sure about her life expectancy.
“After I found out about that I didn’t like leaving her at home, so I started bringing her to the studio with me,” Skinner says. “She hangs out in the front lobby and sits behind the desk with me, and when people come in she runs out to greet them and then runs back behind the desk to sit down.”
Sadie isn’t yet versed in the downward dog yoga position. She waits patiently in the studio office while class is in session.
At three-and-a-half pounds, Ginger is one tiny dog who is living very large. Most days she’s hard at work at Everything is Better Monogrammed, a shop owned by her human Mom, Anne Wilkins. Ginger’s life didn’t begin quite this comfortably. She was rescued from a puppy mill and bounced around with temporary owners until she landed in Wilkins’ heart.
“I was only going to foster her until someone else was found,” Wilkins says. “As you can tell, I’m a foster fail.”
These two spend their days together as close as possible.
“Her preference is to be held in the crook of my left arm,” Wilkins says. “She has been known to go to sleep and snore while at the counter with customers. I can do just about anything I need to do while holding Ginger. I just can’t change the threads on the machines. My plan was that she would sit up on the counter in a bed and let the store just happen around her. That didn’t last because she feels the need to greet everyone.”
Friday is a very special day of the week for Scout the Doodle, a four-year-old Goldendoodle who ends the work week by hanging out at Swagger in Cary. Susan Rogers manages the shop and says some people come in just to see her.
“She is a people person (or a people dog); she sticks with me and with runs out and greets people,” Rogers says. “We put up a sign that says Scout the Goldendoodle is here today working and if you don’t want to be greeted by her, just let us know.”
Rogers says so far no one has asked for them to reign Scout in, and in fact, sometimes the sign reminds people to stop by and see her.
Scout also has quite a presence on social media. Rogers created an Instagram account for her on a dare from her children about how many people would follow a dog. Today Scoutbeatrice, as she is known on the ‘gram, has more than 4,700 followers.
At Science Safari in Cary there isn’t a dog in sight. But there are chinchillas, tree frogs, plenty of hissing cockroaches, fish, a white-bellied hedgehog, and a ball python named Penelope.
“She’s a hugger, she’s sweet, and she really likes to be held,” says Sean O’Neal, who owns the store along with his wife, Siobhan. “All pythons in general kind of curl around your hand and ball up, so they seem quite affectionate.”
Science Safari is part retail emporium specializing in all things science and nature as well as games and unusual toys, and it is also an educational center for classes and parties. That’s where the Safari critters come into play.
“When we do our classes and birthday parties we can talk about what makes a reptile different from an amphibian, an insect from a spider, or a mammal from a fish,” O’Neal says. “They are truly working animals. We use them in our programming, and we are trying to teach kids about nature.”
And there’s one extra special animal in the shop. She is a green iguana that was a 15th anniversary gift from Siobhan to Sean. Since iguanas are not the traditional 15th anniversary gift, they named her after the item that is – Crystal.
1255 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary