Cold noses and warm greetings
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.
People walking by Hollingsworth Jewelers often pause, dazzled by the glittering display of gold, jewels and sparkling diamonds that greet them in the windows. But there are other people who are drawn into the store by something soft, furry and friendly. Buhler, the shop’s resident Yellow Labrador, is at the ready to greet each customer with a welcome wag.
One of those customers is Paul Gallagher, who owns a Black Labrador named Riley. Riley is not along for this visit, but Gallagher mixes business with a little playtime with Buhler. “Buhler’s a great dog, and it’s always nice to have a friendly cold nose to greet you,” laughs Gallagher.
Buhler has been part of the team at the store since he was seven weeks old. His first full day of work was on Valentine’s Day. The Hollingsworths selected the breed because of their calm temperament.
“We wanted a dog we could bring to work, so we vacuum a lot, but it’s worth it to have such a good-natured dog,” said Michael Hollingsworth.
Tammy Hollingsworth added that there are people who don’t come to the store on Tuesdays, when the Hollingsworths are off and Buhler is not there.
“They want to come when Buhler is here,” she said.
Buhler is one of a few storefront dogs that have attracted a loyal following in downtown Petaluma, a pet-friendly area where many shop owners put out water bowls and have treats ready for canine customers. Shoppers and strollers often have their pets with them as they meander among the stores and businesses.
Rob and Robindira Unsworth, co-owners of the specialty jewelry shop, Robindira Unsworth, moved from San Francisco when they decided to get a dog.
“We looked all around for a place to live and we both loved the town of Petaluma,” said Rob. “We settled in and got a Boykin Spaniel puppy — a breed I liked. We also found a space on Petaluma Boulevard where we could have a retail presence and a studio.” The company produces its own lines of jewelry and the shop carries accessories, gifts and clothing as well.
Like Buhler, the Unsworth’s dog, Bourbon started his retail career at seven weeks old. Bourbon spends time with Rob in the office and with staff on the main floor. “He’s so easy, he gets along with everyone here and even with other dogs when they come in.”
“We walk to work each day, as we only live five blocks away,” said Rob, “so a lot of people in the downtown know him.”
That’s a lucky thing, as a few months ago Bourbon decided to take a stroll by himself. He ended up around the corner at the Hide-Away, a lively sports bar. One of the patrons knew him and brought him back to the store. “We figure his nose led him to the place with the best smells,” comments Rob wryly.
Though not officially a greeter, Indigo, a small, mixed breed dog with startlingly light blue eyes, is a kind of staff mascot at Sacks Hospice of Petaluma Thrift Store. Her owner, Ann Deadman, is the sales floor supervisor and began bringing “Indi”, as she’s known, to work with her last fall. “I’ve had Indi since she was a puppy and now she’s 11 years old,” said Deadman. With a sweet disposition and affectionate nature, Indi is now the bright spot in the day for many of the volunteers and workers at the thrift store. Angelina Zvelow, a student and volunteer says, “I love spending time with Indi. You just feel calmer and more relaxed after you pet her or take her for a walk.”
That seems to be the common reason that people bring their dogs to work.
“People love Bourbon,” observes Rob Unsworth, “but I take him to work because I really like having him around. He’s good for me.”
The Hollingsworths love Buhler’s fans, and they feel that he brings out a different side of people. “But we really have him here because we love having him with us. He’s our ‘stress-reducer’,” they affirm.
(Contact Dyann Espinosa at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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