The corporate canine: A growing breed?

The dog days of summer might be over, but many area business owners are joining a growing trend of bringing their four-legged friends to work with them.

At Venus on Front Street, Frankie, a seven-year-old French bulldog is as much a staple at the store as makeup and bath products.

"I have been bringing Frankie to work since the day I got him," says owner Susan Ruoff. "In fact, he's never spent a day home alone."

In a national poll by Dogster, almost a third of those surveyed said they would take a pay cut if they could bring their dog to work. Others said they would work longer hours.

"This way I don't have to rush home at 5 o'clock to walk the dog," said Raelene Wooden-Hall, owner of Idea Stream and Living Light Massage. Her two-year-old German Short-haired Pointer, Mazzy, is a familiar face at the agency; she's been going to work with Wooden-Hall since she was seven weeks old and even has her own bio on the company website.

"The employees just love Mazzy. They beg me to bring her each day," said Wooden-Hall, who's been known to bribe her employees when it comes to Mazzy. "If you take her for a walk, you get a free cappuccino on the company credit card."

That is, if you can get Mazzy off the $600 chair on which she spends her days.

Extended employee hours aren't the only perk of having a pooch at work.

"Bringing a pet to work can add relaxation to a hectic day," says veterinarian Craig Brakeman of Banfield Pet Hospital in Traverse City.

With constant deadlines to meet, the staff at Oneupweb in Lake Leelanau enjoys playing with the owner's dogs.

"Having my dogs at work provides a break in a stressful day," said founder Lisa Wehr.

Employees used to be able to bring their dogs to work at Oneupweb, but the practice stopped when it became too much of a distraction. However, when Oneupweb moves to the Howard Energy building in Traverse City in October, the owner's pets will have their own space in the secretary's office.

Along with Wehr's three corporate canines, Chloe, Kirby and Fritter, she also brings a parrot named Skippy to work each day.

"It's kind of ridiculous," says Wehr. "It's like a circus getting them all into the car in the morning."

Oneupweb is not the only area company to have a parrot on staff. At Companion Portraits in Traverse City, you'll find Drew, an Eclectus Parrot, and Annie, a Golden Retriever.

"Parrots need a lot of stimulation," says owner Mary Taylor. "So it only made sense to bring him to work with me."

Meanwhile, Annie serves as the "Pup-Lick Relations Director," laughs Taylor, since her portrait is posted at veterinary offices in over 30 states.

Taylor is a huge advocate of bringing pets to work. "It creates such a pleasant, relaxing environment. I love going to work because I have Annie by my side."

For those that can't bring their furry friends to the office, Cherry Bend Animal Hospital in Leelanau County offers a doggy day care service. For $15 a day (10.5 hours), you can drop off your dog and head to the office without a worry.

"People want a dog, but they don't want to leave it home all day, so this is the perfect solution," says veterinary assistant Carrie Wilder.

While having a corporate canine is far from the norm, more and more businesses are letting workers bring their dogs to the office.

At Idea Stream, employees can bring their dog to work on Mondays and Fridays, and at Banfield Pet Hospital, employee pets are a common sight.

In a tight job market, it can be just the perk that attracts good workers and convinces them to "stay."

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