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May 01, 2004

Dogs in the Workplace

By: Jamie Klinger-Krebs

In the dog-eat-dog world of business what better companion to have by your side than your best four-legged friend? We all wish we could bring our dogs to work each day when we see those sad, droopy eyes watching us rush out the door each morning. But, in the Milwaukee-area, there are a handful of dog-friendly businesses where dogs are either welcomed in or are a regular fixture of everyday business life. Following are some businesses that cater to four-legged friends.

Aala Reed, Milwaukee
Brady Street businesses are some of the most dog-friendly businesses in the city, according to Laura Lutter, owner of the upper-end men’s clothing store, Aala Reed.

Many of the customers who frequent Aala Reed are dog owners, so four-legged friends are definitely welcome in the store. “My philosophy is if you have a dog, bring it in,” Lutter said with a laugh.

Lutter’s Beagle/Australian Shepard-mix, Shatze, is a regular fixture at the store, as is the store manager’s Yorkie/Minuature poodle, LuLu.

“When I first opened the business I started bringing Shatze in partly for protection, I liked the secure feeling of having him there with me. But, later I just enjoyed having him around since I talk to him a lot,” explained Lutter.

Having been in business for two years now, customers of Aala Reed are used to Shatze and Lulu’s presence in the store, and to most, the dogs are a welcome sight. “If we do have customers that are afraid of the dogs, or allergic, we put them in back, but most people are just fine with it,” she said.

Picture Perfect Incorporated, Milwaukee
At his gallery, Brian Preising’s German shorthair, Klaus has become as much a part of the gallery as Preising himself. Klaus, however, isn’t the only dog that has ever spent time in the gallery.

“I would say out of the 19 years that I’ve had this business that I’ve had a dog here with me at least 14 out of those 19 years,” said Preising.

Klaus, and other dogs that Preising has owned, began coming to the store simply because if they didn’t, they would spend too much time alone. “Since I spent so much time working, I would leave the dogs at home for just way too long so it just worked out well to have them here.”

Having a well-behaved dog like Klaus is extremely important when you have them in the workplace, added Preising. “You just have to have a dog that listens, if they don’t listen well it just doesn’t work,” he said. In addition, Klaus also works well in the gallery because his cropped tail doesn’t knock things over, which could be a liability when often surrounded by breakable objects.

Along with having his own dog at the gallery, Preising also doesn’t discourage customers from bringing their own dogs in the store. “If people are walking, or especially if it’s cold outside, I definitely have no problem with people bringing their dogs in the gallery,” he said.

Manhattan Textiles, Wauwatosa
Though her dogs don’t frequent the upholstery and drapery store as much as they used too, Lori Fleming is another business owner who definitely thinks bringing your dog to work can be beneficial.

“When we see dogs outside with their owners we definitely invite them inside,” explained Fleming.

In the past when Mopsy, a Border Collie/Brittany-mix and Ruby, an Australian Shepard would come in the store with Fleming they would often sit behind the counter and greet customers. Like other busy business owners, Fleming said she would bring her dogs to work simply because she found herself spending more time at work than at home. “I just didn’t have enough time to spend with them at home so it was just nice to have them here with me and customers really seemed to enjoy it.”

As time went on, however, Fleming said it became easier to leave the dogs with relatives than have them in the store during the day. By nature of their breed, the dogs needed time to run. “Sometimes it was just too hard to watch them so now they have a nice yard to run in during the day and it just works out better for everyone.”

Thiel Visual Design Incorporated, Milwaukee
At graphic design firm, Thiel Visual Design Incorporated, pet-owners receive the same consideration as parents, which is a wonderful job perk for some employees.

“Many of the people who work here are dog owners and the owners of the company are very understanding and realize that dogs are family too,” explained Production Designer Lydia Driscoll.

Driscoll often brings her Italian greyhound, Pawleen to work if the need arises. “We usually run it by the owners first, but it’s usually never a problem if someone needs to bring in their dog, or take time off to run to a vet appointment and things like that,” Driscoll added. “We receive the same consideration as the those who have kids which is really nice.”

Having dogs in the office at Theil Design is rarely a distraction, since it’s really a matter of trust in terms of employees getting their jobs done and how well behaved the dogs are. “It’s never been a problem to have the dogs in the office and when there are two or more dogs here at the same time they usually all get a long well, so it’s always worked well for everyone. Though it may not be an every day occurrence to have the dogs here, we usually just bring them in when the need arises,” she added.

Creative Lighting Design & Engineering, Germantown
Clients of Creative Lighting Design & Engineering will most likely have the pleasure of meeting Magical and Whimsy, two Keeshonds who frequent the office almost daily with owner Marty Peck.

Marty began bringing his dogs to the office mostly for company. “There’s really two reasons why they started coming with me, first it was because they were home alone too much when I first started the business, and then it was just because I enjoyed the companionship. These dogs are bred to be great companions so they’re really nice to have around,” explained Peck.

In his business of designing lighting for architectural spaces, Peck added that creativity is an important commodity in his office. “I’m a firm believer that a relaxed atmosphere promotes creativity, so I think having the dogs around really helps that, they tend to help lighten the stress load. If you get worried or stressed and the dog comes up and puts his paw on your lap, or if they’re playing together it just helps lighten the situation and changes your mood.”

Though other employees at the firm don’t generally bring their dogs to work, Peck added that he isn’t against the idea. “If the need ever arose where someone would need to bring their dog in, I certainly wouldn’t be against it.”


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