August 22, 2019
People & Places

Working like a dog

Whether it’s a pampered pooch or a helpful hound, you’re likely to meet a few canines behind the counter as you visit businesses around South Australia.

Resident security guard at Martin Rogers Jewellery, Stanley the Staffy spends most of his day napping at his owners’ feet. Stanley is only woken by the chance to visit his favourite butcher or greet customers coming into the store. While he may look tough, Martin says he’s a big softie underneath, gratefully accepting pats from anyone he meets.

THE SECURITY GUARD

Every Monday like clockwork, Stanley the Staffy rolls into work at Martin Rogers Jewellery.

With his solid stature, Stanley may appear intimidating at first, but owner Martin Farkas says that he’s a “big softie” underneath. “If anything, he’ll lick you to death,” he says.

The staffy lives for his routine. At the crack of dawn, he wanders down to the paddocks on the family’s property to check the boundaries and say good morning to the cows as they’re fed. Then when Martin or his wife Ange put on their work shoes, Stanley races to the car, hops into the back seat and is ready to go. The day at shop is relatively easy on Stanley, sitting and snoozing beside the couple while they work. He’s full of beans until he gets his morning walk, which involves Martin strolling down the road to check the post office, get some lunch, and of course pass by the butcher. “Once or twice the butcher has given him a piece of fritz, so we have to drop in there every time now. They’ve become great friends,” says Martin.

When 4.30pm comes around, Stanley is up and ready to leave, worried that he’ll miss dinner — which he never does. While he spends more time sleeping than protecting the jewels that surround him, Martin and Ange love having him around. “He’s not a hard worker, but we don’t expect much of him. We just have him in for company and he’s great at that,” says Martin.

Customers love seeing him in store too, if they’re lucky he’ll be allowed to burst through his doggie door under the front counter for cuddles. Martin is sure to ask if they’d appreciate a slobbery hello first, but there are a few admirers who frequently visit the store just to see Stanley.

They say dogs are good for therapy and Stanley’s always there for you.

The fellow staff appreciate having Stanley around, with his constant happiness and placid nature creating a soothing environment where they can steal him away for a pat whenever they need. “They say dogs are good for therapy and Stanley’s always there for you,” says Martin.

THE CONCIERGE

Not one to follow fads or trends, Clooney of Abbode Interior Products has a refined eye for only the best designers, and foods. According to his owner Jane, Clooney is a typical busy-body, sniffing around the goings-on in the shop and asserting his dominance to any courier who attempts to enter the front door.

“Clooney thinks he’s human,” says Jane Ainslie, owner of Abbode Interior Products.

Clooney the Shih Tzu cross Poodle can be described as the “macho man” of the shop. “He’s a strong, protective male and is very much a people, not dog, person,” says Jane.

“We try to integrate him with other dogs at doggy day care, but he’s only just recently made friends there.” As the store’s honorary concierge, Clooney greets clients with a bark and an attentive look, not relenting until he’s had his pat. When there’s a courier though, it’s a different story. “He hates couriers; he’ll bark at them constantly, especially when they wear the bright green,” says Jane.

Clooney is ideal in his role, as Jane describes his intelligence in reading personalities and moods of the customers. He is also a friendly distraction for children when they come into the store. “He’s a strong personality and loves attention, which can be a bit much sometimes,” says Jane. Ultimately though, he loves the human affection, which helps with his anxiety issues.

Named after George Clooney for his good looks, he is naturally a celebrity on the business’s social media. “We’ll be out walking and people will recognise him and say hello. Even our suppliers overseas will comment to tell us how good he looks on their rug or lounge,” says Jane.

He’s a strong personality and loves attention, which can be a bit much sometimes.

Clooney is diplomatic in his penchant for designer rugs and is sure to give each new arrival his roll of approval. When it’s time for a nap, he’ll spend all afternoon on the latest textured material. Jane drew inspiration from Parisian boutiques for her interior design business, which motivated her to find Clooney in the first place. “We’re trying to make him French and some of that is rubbing off — he doesn’t eat dog food, only human food. He’ll fast if he doesn’t get the best.”

Jane enjoys having Clooney by her side throughout the day, as do the staff who are also greeted personally every morning. “It makes the store more homely. Sometimes people can be unsure when they enter a homewares store, but when they see him they relax and he makes it more calming; just like home,” she says.

Louis of du Plessis Auction House has spent almost 100 dog-years by his owners’ sides, living a life of luxury every day. However the King Charles Cavalier doesn’t mind one bit, as he patrols his kingdom most evenings, giving recent antique arrivals his sniff of approval.

THE KING

Louis Aramis D’Artagnan Porthos du Plessis has had a long reign in the du Plessis Auction House, with 14 years of keeping peace and tranquillity in his kingdom.

The Maltese cross King Charles Cavalier is a beloved member of owners Marc and Melinda du Plessis’ family, who had only some influence on his expensive taste as they say the majority came with his genes. Named after King Louis XIV of France and references to The Three Musketeers, Marc says he’d be right at home in the Palace of Versailles. “He’s so spoilt,” says Marc. “He has his own set of stairs to get into bed.”

Louis wanders the auction house floor most evenings, observing the goings-on and supervising the pieces. His favourites are the Persian rugs, of course. “He loves their smell and won’t lie on the normal carpet — only the rug.”

Louis is a very social monarch, regularly checking in on his employees by following Marc and Melinda around, sleeping under the front desk or listening to his favourite chill-out music. “As an employee, he’s more hard work than hard working. But he’s consistent, you’ll always find him sleeping in a corner somewhere,” says Marc.

The after-hours supervisor role suits Louis, who has mellowed in his old age, though two things have always stayed the same: he hates cats and won’t trust anyone with a baseball cap and sunglasses — even if it’s his owner.

inspects new items as they arrive in store by smelling every piece. “If he starts having a good sniff under a couch, you know the previous owner had cats,” says Marc.

Apart from barking good morning and good night to his neighbourhood, Louis is a respectful and well-behaved dog, never tainting any furniture or item in the auction house. Yet diamonds are his favourite, having once swallowed Melinda’s diamond earring and donning his personalised diamond collar every day. Outside of keeping an eye on things at work, Louis enjoys a trip to the barber and fine dining on wagyu beef and poached eggs when he’s been a good boy. Next year will see Louis turn 100, in dog-years, and is sure to be a fine royal occasion.

An an employee, he’s more hard work than hard working. But he’s consistent

THE WATCHWOMAN

Every night you’ll find Luna patrolling the grounds of Manor Nurseries, defending her human and animal flock from any predator. When she’s off-duty, Luna distracts her nursery family with her happy demeanour earning a cuddle or two. “We sleep soundly having her here,” says owner Ethel. “She always makes us smile.”

When the sun goes down and the gates are locked, Luna is on patrol. Luna the Maremma protects her human and animal flock at Manor Nurseries in Oakbank with efficiency and poise. While she guards the perimeter at night, Luna saves her socialising for the day. Often following owner Ethel Horton and the nursery staff around while they work, if she’s lucky she’ll get a splash from the garden hose and a play with her rope toy.

“She makes us so joyful. There’s something about looking in a dog’s face and seeing how happy they are that makes you smile,” says Ethel.

The happy-go-lucky Luna feels the love too; she likes to greet customers as they enter the gate — “everyone gets a sniff” — and returns the cuddles with her favourites as she wraps her paw around a leg with affection.

Luna is surrounded by countless smells, sights and visitors in the nursery, though only the motorbikes on the nearby road get on her nerves as she races them along the fence line. Luna’s protective role is learnt by instinct and only once has she got into trouble. “When she was a pup she chewed up a whole irrigation line as a teething ring,” says Ethel. “We hand water those trees now.”

Don’t be fooled by her furry face, Luna is a fierce night watchwoman who protects her domain from birds, foxes, kangaroos and any strangers who may lurk. However, when there’s thunder and lightning, she’s the first to hide inside. While Maremmas often reside in paddocks protecting livestock, Luna has always been around people in her three years, and faithfully guards her human family. Her bouncy nature sees her socialise with anyone she can, whether her “surrogate mothers” in the staff, other dogs, or customers. “Seeing her, it warms customers up straight away,” says Ethel.

Ethel and her family sleep soundly having loyal Luna guarding the fort, which is repaid in pats when she knocks off in the morning, with the prickles in her fluffy tail giving evidence of her nocturnal adventures.

When she’s not bounding around the nursery playground, you’ll find Luna sitting with the people, smiling with her paws crossed. “She’s still a lady,” says Ethel.

When she was a pup, she chewed up a whole irrigation line as a teething ring.

He might be a small package, but Rocco the French Bulldog has a big attitude. Alongside his owner, Alice of Flowers by Alice, Rocco enjoys discussing design ideas and making new friends with those brave enough to give him a pat. At close of business, Rocco has time to enjoy his favourite brightly coloured blooms. Alice says he always finds time to stop and smell the roses.

THE ROCKSTAR

Rocco the French Bulldog spends his working day behind the counter at Flowers by Alice. Rocco keeps things in line, but still makes time to sunbake by the front window when 5pm rolls around.

Having resided in store with his owner, florist Alice McDonald, for his eight years, Rocco has asserted his official standing in the business. Each morning begins with a bite of Alice’s breakfast egg roll before observing the day’s arrangements being prepared. As customers pass through with their floral orders, Rocco watches keenly from his post behind a picket fence at the back of the shop, announcing every arrival and keeping order.

“He’s more management than employee material,” says Alice. “Rocco would give you an order and sleep with one eye open to make sure it was carried out.”

When the front door is locked at 5pm, Rocco races for his seat at the sunny window, watching the traffic and greeting passers-by. While he may be no bigger than a small pot plant, Rocco has attitude, and makes his presence felt if wayward hands get too close. “If you approach with confidence, he respects that. If you’re lukewarm, he’ll just go back to sleep.”

Alice assures that his bark is worse than his bite, and regular visitors never fail to pop in for a pat. “He’s a companion dog. I got Rocco to come to work with me, keep me company, and we have cuddles whenever I want,” says Alice. Rocco’s curiosity sees him sniffing the newly arrived flowers — roses and daisies are his favourite — and foliage in store before drinking the flower bucket water. Only once has he left his mark on a silver birch tree installed in store.

Rocco isn’t so dedicated to his work that he will pass up a chance to socialise. When other dogs and his favourite neighbours come in he’ll say hello, though play dates are reserved for the park with his lady friend, a Burmese Mountain Dog.

Alice feels many benefits with having her “Frenchie” in-store to calm her and even help discuss design ideas. “He’s a stress reliever. If I have a big day or need to stay late with orders, he’s always here for puppy cuddles, which makes it all better,” she says.

If you approach with confidence, he respects that. If you’re lukewarm, he’ll just go back to sleep.

 

This story first appeared in the August 2018 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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