Dogs are becoming an integral part of some businesses around Pittsburgh
By Chris Togneri
Published: Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, 9:20 p.m.
Lou Folino waited to pay for his haircut while Romeo and Juliet rolled around on the floor nearby.
The 4-month-old English bulldog pups bumped into his legs, swiped at each other's scrunched-up faces, and nipped each other.
“They're clearly having a good time,” a bemused Folino said while watching the pups play inside MCN Salon in East Liberty.
Romeo and Juliet accompany salon owner Lisa McNamara to work every day. They're part of a niche business model putting animals in the workplace. Their presence creates a homey atmosphere, lowers stress levels and makes people happier and healthier, simply by being cute and friendly, said business owners and animal experts.
“They bring a lot of joy,” McNamara said. “They put people at ease. And clients think it's kind of cool that we're a high-end salon here, but we have dogs. It makes them feel that we're in tune with them, that we're real people.”
Lauren Rimkus, therapeutic services coordinator at Animal Friends in Ohio Township, said studies show that having pets in a workplace relieves anxiety and lowers blood pressure.
“They definitely lighten the mood and create a more fun atmosphere,” she said. “They are very calming.”
At the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown, Edie the canine ambassador greets guests in the lobby. She chases her rope ball across the slippery marble floors and stares out at passing pedestrians — many of whom pause to stare back when they see a big, white dog in the fancy hotel lobby.
“She brings a sense of home for our guests,” said Julie Abramovic, public relations manager and Edie's primary handler. “There's something about having a friendly dog hanging out in the lobby that creates a sense of home.”
Hotel guests can take Edie for a walk — the hotel has a pamphlet with suggested routes — and send her an email when their trip ends, at email@example.com.
“People say to me, ‘Oh my gosh, now that I know you have a dog, I'm staying here every time I'm in Pittsburgh,' ” Abramovic said.
Not everyone likes dogs, so Abramovic and McNamara make sure their canines are out of sight when such clients visit, they said.
But the responses to the dogs are overwhelmingly positive, they said.
Edie, a white boxer/Labrador retriever from Cincinnati, was taken in by Circle Tail Inc., an Ohio-based group that trains service dogs. She flunked, Abramovic said, because she was too friendly.
“They said she'd work for a few hours and then just want to schmooze,” she said. “But she's perfect for the hospitality industry.”
Romeo and Juliet are, as well. They continue a legacy started by McNamara's dog Josie, a 13-year-old English bulldog who died in August.
“She was here every day,” McNamara said.
“She'd jump up on her chair and just watch everybody. When she died, we got hundreds of posts on Facebook from people saying they loved Josie and will miss her.”
Chris Togneri is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Patients nationwide die waiting as 1 in 5 kidneys rejected by doctors
- Officials identify Chartiers shooting victim as Wilkinsburg man
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- Pope Francis inspires incredible optimism
- Castle Shannon man accused of crashing way down Pittsburgh street
- Bethel Park man to receive degree from Pitt he earned 64 years ago
- South Fayette mother wants case against bullied son to be dropped
- South Fayette parents express dissatisfaction with handling of bullying
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation
- Carnegie museum exhibit explores race relations
- Work on tournament-class dek hockey rink in Bloomfield to begin