According to American Veterinary Medical Association data released in 2018, 36 percent of Americans with pets own dogs, representing 43,346,000 households. Some of those owners take their pets to work in Thomson-McDuffie County. They do so for comfort, companionship, and other reasons.
Baxter, 13-year-old Yorkshire terrier, has his face in a number of places inside Holley Jewelers, being a bit of a mascot. His owner, Terry Holley, got Baxter from a friend years ago. Since then, Holley has bought Baxter to work. Holley describes his dog as mild-mannered, friendly, and very attentive.
“He likes the store. He likes the people,” he said. “This is his home away from home.”
But for Holley, he said Baxter makes good company at work and has made a lot of friends. The playful dog walks around the store. Holley notes that Baxter likes to travel.
A few doors down the plaza, Debra Dean-Romero also brings her dogs to her work at Allstate Insurance. The insurance business owner has two Yorkshire terriers, three-month-old Booboo and seven-year-old Little T. Throughout life, Dean-Romero has had dogs for pets. She calls their love unconditional.
“All dogs are friendly, depending on the owner,” she said.
When customers come in and see one of the two dogs, Dean-Romero says that they want to pet the dogs and said that the dogs are a conversational piece in general. By bringing the dogs in, Dean-Romero said a more comfortable environment gets created.
“It relaxes people,” she said.
However, she also said that she watches the dogs carefully, partly for their own good and also understanding customer needs. Due to the small and fragile bodies of terriers, Dean-Romero said you have to watch them, especially when they go by someone’s feet. What would just be a bit of pain for a larger dog can mean a hospital visit for a smaller dog like the terrier, Dean-Romero said. In addition, she said some customers fear dogs, no matter the size. In those cases, she keeps her dogs in the back.
But, Dean-Romero attributes a certain understanding in the dogs themselves. In particular, she spoke about the memory span of Little T.
“T is brilliant,” she said.
At Wester’s Veterinary Clinic, 13-year-old yellow labrador Magda comforts those coming into the clinic. Pam Wester, the registered nurse and office manager of the clinic, said that Magna seems to know everything, picking up when people come in happy, sad, or with some stress.
“She’s a wise dog,” she said. “She is like a service dog to our clients and our staff.”
Magda gently walks by and patiently lays by your feet. You can pet her or not.
If Wester left the dog at the house, she said Magda wouldn’t like it since she expects to come.
“This is her job,” she said. “She’s not judgemental. Everybody is on the same playing field. If you’re in the office, then you’re here for a reason, and she’s going to take care of you.”
At the clinic, Wester said they operate out of three things: Honor God. Take care of family. And, take care of pets.
“A pet should be and can be that one being in your life that loves you unconditionally,” Wester said.
In the late afternoon, 12-year-old havanese Harley follows his owner, Bonnie McCorkle, around faithfully at Interstate Equipment.
“He’s an old soldier,” she said. “That’s my baby dog. He’s dedicated to his mother.”
McCorkle bought Harley on New Year’s Eve and said she’s spoiled him rotten ever since. Harley has a bed right by her desk and will only stand eating the can pet food. Due to her great care of Harley, McCorkle said she brought her dog to work.
“I wasn’t going to leave him at home,” she said. “He’s a sweet dog and doesn't bark at anybody.”
Like Dean-Romero, McCorkle said that her dog makes the office relaxing. Those that come in respond well.
“He’s a magnet, she said. “People always want to go up and pet him.”