For the past seven years, visitors to historic downtown Encinitas have been welcomed by Marley, a yellow Labrador retriever who sits diligently in front of , across the street from the . Nearby office workers, including mayors and city council members, often find an excuse to take a quick break from their responsibilities to give Marley a scratch behind her ear.
“Marley’s a landmark,” said Marco San Antonio, owner of One Day Signs. “Each day there are fifty people here to see her, sometimes more.
“When customers call, they’ll say ‘Is this the shop with the dog?’ After fieldtrips, teachers bring their students to pet Marley.”
A few blocks away, a miniature Australian shepherd name Lucy provides entertainment and stress relief to customers and employees of at the Lumberyard.
“I grew up in New England where people had shop dogs,” owner Jim O’Hara explained. “Lucy gives our customers insight into who we are as a community store.”
O’Hara estimates that about 90 percent of patrons enjoy having Lucy at the store. In consideration for the other 10 percent, Lucy only works part-time, three times a week.
In her off hours, she assists O’Hara as coach of the Seaside Striders Running Club, a pastime they now share. Lucy was a stray—who was later determined to have been severely abused—who met O’Hara when she bolted from a bush in Rancho Santa Fe he had just passed and, without missing a beat, joined him for the rest of his run.
“Monday night she comes for a three-mile run with our group,” he said. “When she doesn’t come, people ask ‘Where’s Lucy?’ She has no problem with an eleven-mile run. When I take her hiking to Mammoth Mountain, she can go for hours.”
Dogs are becoming increasingly visible in the American workplace because of their ability to reduce stress and increase job satisfaction for employees, according to a study earlier this year by Virginia Commonwealth University.
Some of the nation’s largest employers are dog friendly, including Amazon.com and Google.com.
A survey in 2008 by the American Pet Products Association also revealed support for pets in the workplace:
- 75 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace makes people happier.
- 70 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace reduces stress.
- 47 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to a more creative environment.
- 37 million believe having pets in the workplace decreases absenteeism.
- 41 million believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers get along better.
- 46 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more productive work environment.
- 23 million believe having pets in the workplace decreases smoking in the workplace.
- 34 million people who bring their pets to the workplace work longer hours.
Tiffani and Sean Sauter, owners of in the shopping center off El Camino Real, bring their yellow Labrador retriever, Lola, to the store on weekdays when they work together.
“People like her being here,” Tiffani Sauter said. “When they come in on Saturday and Sunday, they’ll say, ‘Where’s the dog?’”
Sean Sauter describes Lola as a magnet, who draws pet lovers into the store just for a visit.
“Lola’s a great babysitter for kids (of customers), and gives me a break from the stresses of retail life,” he added.
Two doors down, Kobe, a Chihuahua, bears the title of “Official Treat Tester” at her parents’ pet food store, Pupologie.
“She likes everything,” Brendan Clifton said. “If it’s food, she wants it.”
Clifton said he’s noticed an upward trend in pet-friendly work environments in San Diego.
“I know quite a few people including manufacturers of our favorite dog brand, The Honest Kitchen, who bring their pups to work,” he explained.
Like Sauter, Clifton says Kobe is a welcome respite from the stresses of business.
“Sometimes it’ll seem like a long day and I’ll say, ‘Hey, I’m just taking the dog out for a little walk.’ It’s an excuse to take a break and get a little sunshine.”