Working Class Dogs
Canine and feathered friends that spend their days at the office.
By Carla Turchetti
Photos by Joe Reale
As I sit here at my keyboard, my most important office accessory isn’t on top of my desk – it is beneath it. That’s where you’ll find the pink floral bed occupied by my assistant, an eight-pound white maltipoo named Alexandra Belle. Yes, that is the world’s longest name for the littlest dog. When I tell her in the morning it is time for us to “work, work”, she dutifully heads to her bed beneath my feet, curls up there, and proceeds to rest for hours. In full disclosure, she is the first dog I have been fortunate enough to care for in my entire life. And in addition to a wardrobe that includes a reversible pink raincoat, sweaters, scarves, hoodies, Halloween costumes and yes, even soft cotton pajamas with flowers on them, she arrived here ready to be the perfect office partner. She pretends to be interested when I read copy aloud and naps peacefully through the quiet times when I struggle for just the right word or to make subjects and predicates agree. And exactly when I need a break, she needs a walk. As it turns out she has plenty of company when it comes to furry friends who may not punch a clock, but they are on the job.
PBX Pilates Barre Extreme
11211 Galleria Avenue, #106, Raleigh
A seven-pound Maltipoo named Pickle is the fluffy white ball of fur that greets clients at PBX Pilates Barre Extreme in Raleigh.
“She is not a dog person at all, she is a complete people person,” says Libby Burton, owner and instructor at PBX Pilates Barre Extreme. “She feels like every person who walks in the door is there to see her. I love having her there – I feel like it brings the mood of the day to a different level of relaxed and happy.”
Burton says two-year-old Pickle is a great choice for a dog that comes to work because Maltipoos, a cross between a maltese and a poodle, shed minimally and have silky hair that doesn’t catch much dander, which is good for allergy sufferers. Maltipoos are also easy to train, and Burton says Pickle knows what to do in the studio.
“I’ve told the clients when we’re in the session don’t even acknowledge her. But before the class they say hey and once the class gets started she kind of knows things are getting serious and the real work is happening; she’ll kind of chill on the couch and ottoman in the entryway.”
Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming Wakefield
13600 Falls of Neuse Road, #102, Raleigh
It is hard to miss Paisley when you step inside Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming Wakefield in Raleigh. There among the pink walls and the crystal chandelier, sits a princess on her throne behind the cash register. Paisley is a very regal seven-year-old Blue Great Dane that weighs 115 pounds. And she is tolerant all day long of the parade of dogs in all shapes and sizes who visit the shop owned by her human mom, Sara Griuzzi. Not only tolerant, she is almost indifferent, like any good princess might be.
“She is pretty lazy, so besides getting up for a pet or two and potty breaks she sleeps most of the time,” Giruzzi says.
The tables at Woof Gang are filled with all kinds of delectable doggie treats, and Paisley knows her favorites.
“She is our chief taste tester as well,” Giruzzi says.
8490 Honeycutt Road; Suite 100, Raleigh
Not every pet at work is a dog.
Jolene, the 20-year-old Sulphur-crested cockatoo who spends her days at the Oxford Green gift shop in Raleigh, really gets around.
“She is a bird of the world,” says Shawna Sowder, owner of Oxford Green. “She travels home with me, I take her canoeing. I have a nine-year-old, and she rides on the handlebars of my daughter’s scooter. She even goes to carpool with us.”
Jolene is very social and loves to interact with customers, even remembering some of their names.
“I don’t know that she knows she’s not a person,” Sowder says.
Jolene has a beautiful birdcage in the store, but she also likes to be wherever Sowder and the customers are.
“If she’s not with us she is very vocal about letting us know she wants to be included. They are flock animals and she wants to be where her flock is, where her people are.”
And she’s smart enough to know what her people are saying.
“Her intellect is amazing,” Sowder says. “She gets sarcasm and laughs appropriately. If you come in and we’re cutting up, she knows when to laugh. She amazes me daily.”
725 Tucker Street, Raleigh
Don’t mind the three-year-old French Bulldog hanging out on the chair in the Voda Boutique in downtown Raleigh. It’s just Hank.
“He has a chair in the store that is meant for customers to sit in to try their shoes on, but he has taken over that chair; it is his throne,” says Kayla Brewer, who owns both Hank and Voda.
When he’s not in his chair, Hank watches the parade of neighborhood pups out for walks from the door of the store, and he has also been known to play a little hide and seek beneath the clothing. He also has friends who stop by, because Voda is a pet-friendly shop and the signboard outside welcomes shoppers and their furry companions to come on in.
“It’s nice to be able to go on a stroll and pop in and be able to shop with your pup, and of course we have refreshing water if they are tired and need to take a break,” Brewer says. “We have nice, cool, concrete floors that dogs like to hang out on and take a break from their walk, and of course we also have dog treats.”
8471 Garvey Drive, #115, Raleigh
While many dogs at work only interact with people during the day, Molly Waffles is in a workplace that caters to dogs. This five-year-old Goldendoodle belongs to Carol Frasso, the owner of Woofinwaggle in Raleigh. Woofinwaggle is a canine-centric business that offers fitness class for dogs and their owners, as well as dog bathing services, dog painting services, dog massage, and boutiques with the latest dog products.
While Molly Waffles has a few furry friends she plays with inside Woofinwaggle, she is also a working class dog.
“She has full career – she is our robe model, our bandana model, she poses for pictures for our customer bags made by an artist, and she poses for collar pictures. She works for her food; I make her earn her living,” Frasso laughs.
Fitness classes are the centerpiece of the business, and Molly Waffles gets her workout in on the special equipment before other clients arrive.
“I owe it to my customers to be focused on them and their dogs as opposed to being focused on mine,” Frasso says.
Frasso says she and Molly are part of a very unique business with its concept of being a fitness and fun spot for dogs and their people.
“I view this as a place where we are introducing healthy things for you and your dog to do together,” Frasso says. “If you don’t know something, come here. We have lots of solutions, lots of contacts, and lots of activities.”
18 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
If you step into Raleigh Vintage on a hunt for rare clothing and accessories, you are likely to be greeted at the door by a tiny bundle of energy named Gerti with a very distinctive bark that sounds more like “roorooroo”.
According to Raleigh Vintage’s owner, Andi Shelton, this three-year-old miniature dachshund loves to meet each and every client and customer who visits the shop. And she uses her workplace as her own personal gym.
“She likes to run the entire length of the studio over and over, using the clothing racks like an obstacle course by running around them and under them,” says Shelton.
In her downtime Gerti appreciates the coziness and retro vibe of her favorite 1960s MOD Ball Chair, and can also be found lounging on a faux-fur rug while Shelton takes photographs of the merchandise for the store’s website. But it’s the people who make her the happiest.
“She will sneak underneath the curtains of the dressing room to see if customers need any help or to offer her advice,” says Shelton, with a smile.
What do you do when you’re ready for a bite to eat but you don’t want to leave your best four-legged friend home alone? Head to one of Raleigh’s pet-friendly restaurant patios. The state of North Carolina has a few rules about Fido dining al fresco. Your dog must be outside the restaurant on a patio and not inside the dining room. Your dog should be leashed and can’t come into contact with employees preparing food or service items. (So don’t put your plate on the ground and let Spot lick the final few morsels of peanut butter pie that the server will clear and take into the kitchen.) The rules are different for breweries with inside and outside areas. Dogs can wander in or out as long as all of the food and snacks that are being served are sealed in disposable wrappers.
Here are some of Raleigh’s options for dining with your dog:
Tupelo Honey Cafe
425 Oberlin Road
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen
301 Glenwood Avenue, #100
and Brewing Concern
4821 Grove Barton Road
High Park Bar and Grill
625 E. Whitaker Mill Road
3607 Falls River Avenue
4421 Six Forks Road
Village Draft House
428 Daniels Street
Raleigh Brewing Company
3709 Neil Street