The first time I saw the sign outside a giant warehouse off Interstate 40/85 in Greensboro — a place called Replacements, Ltd. — I chuckled and wished I had my camera.
On the sign, the company was proclaiming its dog friendliness.
What does Replacements sell?
China and crystal.
But I never took that picture, and — not being the type of person to replace china, or own it — I never dropped in to investigate.
Now, sparked by a story in the latest issue of All Animals, I’ve done a little research, learning (contrary to my assumption) that Replacements allows more than little dogs toted in customer’s handbags, that from 20 to 30 employees regularly bring dogs of all sizes to work with them (including one with a boxer), and that the company’s owner (a dachshund man) is also a pretty interesting guy.
(And maybe, too, that china isn’t as boring as I always thought.)
There’s a captivating story in the spring issue of Oxford American, that relates the company’s history and profiles its owner, Bob Page, who openly lobbied for the legalization of same-sex marriage in North Carolina, and whose company has established itself as gay friendly, pet friendly and family friendly.
Page, a native North Carolinian who grew up on a tobacco farm in Rockingham County, developed a passion for plates, and pursued it, according to the magazine.
When Page was growing up in rural North Carolina, he didn’t know anyone who was openly gay. He endured the hardship of being different in a small town, and the pain stayed with him: after he was drafted into the Army, he considered suicide. By the time he became an auditor for the state in the late 1970s, he was miserable in his job. He spent weekends junking around flea markets and trolling for collectibles, and he found that he looked forward to this hobby far more than he enjoyed going to work. He said, “My love of flea markets and the fact that I hated my job were the two things that compelled me to start Replacements.”
Today, the warehouse is the size of eight football fields, has a full-time staff of 400 workers, grosses $80 million a year, and dogs can commonly be seen alongside employees in their cubicles.
The company’s dog friendliness also caught the eye of the Humane Society of the United States, which publishes All Animals magazine.
It started when Page brought his own dachshunds into the office, enjoyed it and realized employees might like to bring their dogs to work, too.
The effects have been highly positive, the company says, improving job satisfaction and job performance, helping employees form stronger bonds and increasing cooperation.
Four years ago, Ford welcomed a husband and wife research team from Virginia Commonwealth University to spend a week at Replacements to conduct a study about dogs in the workplace.
Business professor Randolph T. Barker and his wife Susan, a professor of psychiatry, divided the 90 participants into three groups: those who had dogs and brought them to work, those who had dogs but didn’t bring them to work, and those who didn’t have dog.
Sure, it was another one of those studies that tells dog lovers what they already know, but it lends even more credence to the question:
If a china shop can be dog-friendly, can’t every workplace be?
(Photos: At top, a boxer named Harvey accompanies an employee on her way outside, courtesy of Replacements, Ltd.; bottom photo, Charlie rides along with employee Kim Headen as she works in the warehouse, by Peter Taylor/AP Images for The HSUS.; other photos courtesy of Replacements, Ltd.)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bob page, china, china shop, cortisol, crystal, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dogs in the workplace, employees, greensboro, pet friendly, pets, plates, replacements, replacements ltd., silver, study, workplace
Dogs. (Then again, they see the bright side in pretty much everything.)
With their owners spending more time at home, the pets of furloughed federal workers are likely getting more attention, more dog park time, more time to snuggle while watching daytime TV on the couch.
Let’s just hope no one gets too used to it.
The shutdown, while already hurting some pet-related business, is helping some others. The Huffington Post reports that business is booming, for example, at Muddy Mutt, a self-serve dog wash next to Shirlington Dog Park in Northern Virginia.
“I’m getting more business because people aren’t working,” said Andrew Low, owner of the Muddy Mutt, where dog owners commonly bring their dogs in after romping in the river. Low said the business is usually quiet during the week. But since the furlough? “Twenty-five on Monday, 14 on Tuesday, 23 yesterday… We don’t even ever come close to that.”
The furlough might be bad news, though, for professional dog walkers in the DC area.
Christina Bell, owner of Doggy Daze DC, said that business is down by about half since the shutdown went into effect. JJ Scheele says her business, Dog Walking DC, has also taken a hit.
“All the walkers are down anywhere from one to three dogs,” Scheele said.
At Just Walk DC, a dog-walking cooperative, Meg Levine said the decrease of customers, three days into the shutdown, has been slight. But between government-employed pet owners having more time, and less income, a protracted shutdown could hurt dogwalkers badly — not to mention the rest of the country.
“There certainly is a sense of frustration from a lot of my clients, who feel that this is just needless roadblocking,”Levine said. “For the most part, we are continuing to chug along and feeling very hopeful this will end soon. I like D.C. when it functions. Oh, this town.”
(Photo: Dog walker Meg Levine, courtesy of Just Walk DC)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, business, dc, dog walking, dogs, dogwalkers, dogwalking, economy, effects, employees, federal, federal government, furlough, furloughed, government, government shutdown, home, pets, politicians, ripple, shutdown, washington
Some of you might remember Darcy — the too cute to strangle Boston terrier for whom I’ve served as babysitter while her mom and dad were away.
Twice, I took Darcy into my home for multi-day stays, where she proceeded to test my patience half the time, and be adorable the other half.
That was back when I had a house. Now, upon my return to Baltimore — having given up my home for the purposes of our continuing road trip — the tables have turned, and Darcy and her humans have most graciously taken Ace and me into their’s.
Where, as you might guess, I proceeded to test their patience half the time (going so far as to clog up their toilet yesterday morning … the house guest’s worst nightmare), and attempted to be adorable (once I had my coffee) the other half.
And all this just before the start of school, no less.
Here in the city of Baltimore, yesterday was the first day of school — so, with both Darcy’s mom and dad being city schoolteachers, it’s all the more impressive that, with everything else that was on their minds and agendas, they agreed to house one road-weary man and his 130-pound dog over the weekend.
There, in addition to the hazards of using too much toilet paper, this is what I learned:
Teachers — or at least teachers like Dan and Marite — should be appreciated much more. I say this not because they gave us shelter, but because in the days I spent with them I’ve seen how much of themselves, their own time, their own money, their hearts and souls, they pour into what they do.
Yesterday, as Ace and I sat drinking coffee on their front stoop after they left, I watched as children headed down the sidewalk for the start of a new school year, many of them tightly holding the hands of their parents. And I thought how fortunate they were — even in a school system as troubled as Baltimore’s — to have teachers like Dan and Marite. And how much worse things would be if they didn’t.
Dan spent the bulk of the weekend on his computer, finalizing his lesson plans, sweating the details. Marite cooked up some do-it-yourself orange Play-doh out of flour, water and food coloring. When we walked with the dogs down to the shopping center for lunch, Dan and Marite hit the Goodwill store, and came out with a full bag of classroom supplies.
But Dan and Marite take chaos in stride. They seem to have mastered patience, which I guess all teachers must. They are so easy going that she probably won’t mind that I — lacking the technical know-how — am writing her name without the accent thing over the “e”.
While their home has plenty of clutter — I would describe their decorating scheme as contemporary-tornado — Ace and I only added to it, what with our leashes and dog bowls and dog food and camera and laptop and dirty laundry. We just wedged ourselves and our stuff in, and felt right at home. (Virgo that I am, I will admit I feared putting anything on a counter for fear it would disappear immediately under a stack of paperwork, laptops and school supplies. By the way, have you seen my glasses?)
The clutter, though — I’d say it’s 85 percent school related — is just another sign of their commitment.
Most people seem to truly cherish their work — though not always their jobs. And there’s a difference. One’s “work” is doing what they got into a career to do, whether it’s teaching kids, righting wrongs or driving trucks, whether it’s lawyering or newspapering. One’s “job” is what that work has evolved into — thanks to managers, supervisors, corporate chiefs and stockholders.
We the workers, in a way, are their Play-Doh, and they tend to mold, bend and stretch us, sometimes to the point of snapping.
They take your one job and squeeze two more jobs into it; then shovel layers of bureaucracy on top, burying you under piles of seemingly meaningless paperwork, and doing away with anything that might serve as support. They tell us to do more with less, and, at times, seem to be doing everything in their power to prohibit us from doing our jobs right. Then they — those at the very top — reap the benefits of the more, while we scrape by on the less.
I don’t think that makes me a Communist, just a pissed off worker — or a pissed off former worker, to be precise. (I kind of like the boss I have now, who looks a lot like me.)
As a nation, we fail to show enough appreciation for those doing the heavy lifting. And yet the heavy lifters keep lifting — they, and teachers especially, manage to stay fired up about the work, if not the job, despite shrinking benefits, paltry salaries and all the forces that seem intent on extinguishing that fire.
So, a little early for Labor Day, I salute the American worker, who, like the American dog, keeps at it — leaping obstacles, heeding commands, summoning up energy even when exhausted, snapping at and shaking off all the annoying little bugs that come down from above, buzzing in our ears and getting on our backs.
(“Dog’s Country” is the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, america, american, animals, benefits, career, darcy, dog's country, dogscountry, employees, employers, job, labor, labor day, ohmidog!, overburdened, overworked, pets, road trip, salary, school, support, teachers, work, workers
At least that’s my thinking — and it’s the view of the Humane Society of the United States, as well.
HSUS is encouraging dogs in the workplace programs, and this year it has teamed up with Petplan, which describes itself as America’s top-rated pet insurance provider, to ask busineses to consider adopting programs permitting employees to bring dogs to work.
Such policies, they say, can be beneficial to employees, dogs and the company bottom line. Studies have shown that employees who bring their dogs to work tend to be more efficient, happier and healthier.
“We share everything with our four-legged family members – our joys, our sorrows, sometimes even our lunch,” says Natasha Ashton, co-founder of Petplan. “It seems only natural that we also share our work lives with our pets.”
To assist employers in implementing a dogs at work program, Humane Society Press, the publishing division of HSUS, published “Dogs at Work: A Practical Guide to Creating Dog-Friendly Workplaces,” a guide to creating a business environment where employees’ dogs are welcome.
Authors Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing present the tangible benefits of dog-friendly policies and provide step-by-step advice on obtaining management buy-in, setting fair procedures and protocols and dealing with any concerns about dog-friendly policies in the workplace. Dogs at Work also includes detailed advice about how to prepare dogs for the office environment, provides sample policies and handouts and provides two comprehensive case studies describing successful dog-friendly workplaces.
“Our canine companions make excellent colleagues, even at big companies,” said Fearing, chief economist for The Humane Society of the United States. “In the midst of tough times, employers can improve morale and support the human-animal bond by relying on Dogs at Work to develop and implement a workable – and free – program that works for everyone.”
The HSUS implemented a dogs at work program in 2007, and about 50 dogs come to work at the organization’s three offices in the Washington, D.C. area.
(Photo: Soco, HSUS staffer Cary Smith’s dog, at work; by Cary Smith, courtesy of HSUS)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, benefits, dog, dog friendly, dog friendly workplace, dogs at work, employees, employers, guide, hsus, humane society of the united states, insurance, natasha ashton, news, ohmidog!, petplan, pets, policies, take your dog to work day, work, workplace
The internationally known artist, woodcarver and furniture maker, and creator of the Dog Chapel, a hand-built church in Vermont, fatally shot himself on Jan. 7 in Littleton, N.H.
According to his wife, Gwen, he had been despondent over having had to lay off most of the employees of his art business that week.
While Huneck once had a national network of six galleries, only the one at his residence on Dog Mountain remains.
The tardy Times obit offered little new information about Huneck’s life or his suicide, except for this bit of irony: His death has led to a renewed demand for his work, enabling Ms. Huneck to hire back most of the employees let go last month.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: art, artist, death, demand, dog art, dog chapel, dog mountain, employees, galleries, huneck, increased, late, media, new hampshire, new york times, newspapers, obituary, renewed, stephen huneck, suicide, tardy, vermont
Stephen Huneck, whose paintings, sculptures and woodcut prints of dogs celebrated his deep love for animals, took his own life last week in New Hampshire.
Huneck, of St. Johnsbury, committed suicide Thursday in Littleton, N.H. His wife said he was despondent after being forced to lay off employees at his Dog Mountain studio and Dog Mountain chapel in Vermont.
“Like many Americans, we had been adversely affected by the economic downturn,” Gwen Huneck wrote in a letter Friday announcing his death. “Stephen feared losing Dog Mountain and our home. Then on Tuesday we had to lay off most of our employees. This hurt Stephen deeply. He cared about them and felt responsible for their welfare.”
Two days later, he shot himself in the head while sitting in a parked car outside the office of his psychiatrist, the Burlington Free Press reported.
A native of Sudbury, Mass., Huneck started out whittling wooden sculptures and later dog-themed furniture. In 2000, he built the Dog Chapel — a miniature version of the 19th-century churches that dot Vermont’s landscape — from wood harvested from his 175-acre Dog Mountain property.
The chapel, a popular tourist stop, has vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows with images of dogs pieced into them, and handcrafted pews, also built by Huneck. A sign outside reads: “Welcome all creeds, all breeds. No dogmas allowed.”
Dog lovers would make the trip to Vermont just to see the chapel, many writing notes to their deceased pets and attaching them to the walls. Huneck never took them down.
Huneck advocated for dog-friendly lodging, water dishes at parks and highway rest stops, and dog-friendly dining.
“Really, my agenda is to make Vermont the France of America, as far as the way we relate to our dogs,” Huneck told The Burlington Free Press in 2006. “I think it would be wonderful if people could bring their dogs into restaurants. … Every time I eat at a restaurant I feel really guilty because I know those scraps would make a friend of mine really happy.”
Huneck’s seven books — including “Sally Goes to the Beach,” “Sally Goes to the Farm” and “Sally Gets a Job”– featured woodcut prints of his beloved Labrador retrievers, accompanied by quirky captions.
“He was one of the most creative and active members of the Vermont crafts community,” said Jennifer Boyer, co-owner of Artisans Hand, a craft gallery in Montpelier. “I appreciate how much energy he put into his works, which were whimsical and sardonically funny. He really had a unique sense of humor.”
In 1994, Huneck fell down a flight of stairs and was in a coma for two months. Although he recovered fully, he had to relearn everything from how to walk to how to sign his name, according to his Dog Mountain website.
After waking up from the coma, Huneck immediately began working on a series of woodcut prints he had envisioned before the accident, based on his dog Sally. The first in the series was called “Life Is A Ball.”
After this near death experience, Stephen began work on the Dog Chapel, a place, as he described it, “where people can go and celebrate the spiritual bond they have with their dogs.”
(Photos from dogmt.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 10th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: all breeds, all creeds, artist, chapel, despondent, dog, dog artist, dog chapel, dog mountain, dog mountain chapel, dog mountain studio, dogs, economy, employees, gwen huneck, himself, layoffs, life, littleton, new hampshire, no dogmas, shot, st. johnsbury, stephen huneck, suicide, takes, tourists, vermont
As a firm believer that every day should be “Take Your Dog to Work Day” — and having never worked for a company that would permit such a thing (even once the official day was proclaimed) — I don’t get too awfully excited by it.
Especially now that I work from home, Ace at my side.
On top of that, though, it has always struck me as strange that the day was created by Pet Sitters International, a group whose members, if everyone one took their dog to work, wouldn’t have much to do.
On the other hand, the day does get some employers to open their doors to dogs, and more important, it helps educate the public on the benefits of responsible pet ownership, raises the awareness of the human-animal bond, and supports the efforts of local animal shelters, rescues and humane societies.
So, with the 11th annual “Take Your Dog to Work Day” approaching — it’s Friday — by all means, take your dog to work, if your employer is enlightened enough to play along.
And in either case, by all means drop by after work at the Maryland SPCA, which is celebrating the day with a “Wine & Wag” party of its own, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The SPCA, at 330 Falls Road in Baltimore, will be offering drinks, snacks and activities that include doggie musical chairs, paw painting, bobbing for hot dogs, a treasure hunt and plenty of free treats, courtesy of Dogma.
Admission is $10 in advance and $15 at the gate per person. (The event will be canceled and ticket prices will be refunded if the weather is bad.)
— Recognize that this can be a stressful experience for your dog, and bring along a favorite pillow or blanket so he has something familiar to comfort him.
— Bring a leash to walk your dog from the car to the office, and to control him in the office.
— Bring food or treats and a water bowl.
— Help your dog pass the time by bringing along dog toys.
— Don’t leave your dog alone with other dogs. If you must leave for a meeting, isolate your dog in a closed office or have a dog-familiar friend sit in until you return.
— Watch for any signs of dog aggressiveness, such as growling, staring, raised hackles, and stiff body posture. Diffuse potential conflict by removing your dog from the area.
— Don’t try to force unfamiliar dogs to “become friends.”
— Check with your supervisor to get an okay to leave work early if your dog can’t handle the new environment. If he becomes too stressed, overexcited or inhibited, it’s best to just take him home. Do not leave him in your vehicle while you continue to work.
— If a dog fight occurs, don’t try to break it up by hand. Use your dog’s blanket to throw over the heads of the fighting dogs. This will confuse the combatants long enough for you to defuse the situation.
(Photo: Mija, in accounts payable, from Takeyourdog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barkbusters, dog, dogs, employees, maryland spca, office, pet sitters international, take your dog, take your dog to work day, tips, tydtwd, wine & wag, work, workplace