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August 8, 2020

7/29/2020 12:12:00 PM
Pets at the workplace
Millie gets comfortable after a long day of “helping” owner Stacy Collins in her greenhouse at Collins Cove located on Hwy 3 north of the fairgrounds.—Submitted Photo
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Millie gets comfortable after a long day of “helping” owner Stacy Collins in her greenhouse at Collins Cove located on Hwy 3 north of the fairgrounds.—Submitted Photo
You can’t leave Joyce’s Flowers without saying hi to Kittay. This gray-and-white feline is a customer favorite when they shop at the gifts and floral business on 2200 Hwy 3 in North Vernon.—Staff Photo by Kylan Higgs
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You can’t leave Joyce’s Flowers without saying hi to Kittay. This gray-and-white feline is a customer favorite when they shop at the gifts and floral business on 2200 Hwy 3 in North Vernon.—Staff Photo by Kylan Higgs
Kylan Higgs
Reporter

A few local storefront businesses have front door greeters, but they are much smaller and furrier than you might expect.

What this writer is choosing to call a "workplace pet" is when a place of business houses an animal, usually a cat or dog, that roams freely during business hours.

This decision can have a few pros and cons.

A few cons to consider before introducing an animal into your place of business are: allergies, aversions to animals, pet manners, and hygiene.

That said, the joy that a workplace pet can bring to the job can be considerable, not just for customers, but for employees as well. Just as pet owners look forward to going home because their animal companion will be there to greet them, so can employees look forward to going into work to see their special work buddy.

The sweet, unassuming face of a workplace pet can be very comforting during a particularly stressful work day. Customers who love animals are also likely to return knowing they, too, will get a few minutes with your tiny colleague.

Kittay, Joyce Cherry's store cat, fits this description perfectly. Joyce, owner of Joyce's Flowers and Gifts on 2200 Hwy 3 in North Vernon, says customers come in just to see her gray-and-white cat.

"She's our greeter/therapy cat," Joyce said. Many rental properties don't allow pets, says Joyce, so people love to visit Joyce's to get their kitty fix.

Kittay became a member of the Joyce's team three years ago, but Joyce didn't really have a say in the matter.

One night, the little short-haired feline crawled her way inside via the heat vent. The next morning, Joyce came to work and found the cat inside and had no idea where she'd come from. Joyce put the kitty back outside, but she kept sneaking back in. Finally, Joyce decided she could stay.

"She wanted to live here, that's for sure," Joyce said.

The Plain Dealer & Sun's very own "Edipurr-in-Chief," nicknamed Edi, is a sweet and sassy gray cat who loves to sit in visitors' and employees' laps while they work, which can be distracting, but most secretly enjoy it.

"She's quite the character," said PD&S employee, Kate Phillips. "She runs the newspaper. She lets everyone know what she wants and they'll have to interrupt their work to get it for her."

Edi camped herself outside of the PD&S doorstep three years ago. She charmed employees until they started bringing in cat food to feed her. Eventually, publisher Barbara King asked the PD&S team as a whole if they wanted to adopt the cat and it was a resounding "YES!" Edi was welcomed into the newspaper family and has been here ever since. Customers love her and have even offered to take her home.

Other local businesses whose workplace pet you may be familiar with are charming customers at Sharynn's Quilt Box and Collins' Cove Greenhouse.

Little Sophia will greet you when you enter the door at this quilter's paradise at 890 S State Street in North Vernon. Sophia is a friendly five-year-old Yorkie, owned by Sharynn, who owns the business.

"Sophia loves to entertain the gentlemen when their wives are shopping," Sharynn said.

Sharynn and her husband, Darrell, got Sophia when she was five weeks old. They were empty-nesters and wanted a little companion. The silver-and-tan Yorkie loves to travel and goes to work with Sharynn and Darrell every single day-one of the perks to owning your own business!

"She's the sweetest thing there is," said one of Sharynn's employees, Pat Rice. "I can't imagine not having her here. She has a very calming effect."

Over at Collins' Cove on 5825 Hwy 3, Miss Millie is a four-year-old Healer-Jack Russell mix. Collins' Cove owner, Stacy Collins, and her husband, Ron, adopted Millie three years ago and she's made herself right at home. She is tiny and rambunctious but oh, so sweet. She loves to "help" down at the greenhouse and customers love her.

"I like her company," Stacy said of Millie's presence at the greenhouse.

Millie's favorite pastime is swimming with Stacy's grandchildren in her backyard pool.

Even George Uppling at George Uppling & Associates has a workplace pet, but this pet doesn't stay indoors and isn't much for cuddling. George's "pet" is a squirrel who he calls Charlie. Charlie likes to hang out around George's merchandise shop over on Greensburg St.

"He won't sit in my hand but he sure does love my corn," said George.

Every traditional workplace pet owner mentioned that they will put their animals away if a customer is feeling particularly uncomfortable with their presence. However, unsatisfied customers rarely occur when it comes to these sweet little furry creatures. It's safe to say that workplace pet interaction brings a smile to customers and employees alike.

The next time you are visiting one of these local businesses, make sure to say hi to Kittay, Edi, Sophia and Millie! and give a wave to Charlie!





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