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Shop pets of Perham

Dog, a golden lab at Boedy Appliance, loves to get belly rubs. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS1 / 2
Mike and Tiger, greet visitors at Pine Shelter Veterinary Hospital. Elizabeth Huwe/Perham FOCUS2 / 2

These furry little guys take the meaning of ‘working like a dog’ to a whole new literal level.

Anyone who’s spent time in the stores and offices of downtown Perham has probably given a pat on the head to one or more shop owners’ pets before. Whether it’s Lee Metcalf’s jowly bulldogs waddling up to greet customers at Hometown Repair, or the two cats that keep things interesting at Pine Shelter Veterinary Hospital, four-legged friends can be found at several surprising places in town.

Sure, business owners say there are some minor annoyances that come with working alongside their pets, such as fur all over everything or those pesky potty breaks; but overall, everyone interviewed for this story agreed – having animals around for the work day makes the day feel less like work.

Keep an eye out for these cuddly shopkeepers while out and about.

"Lily" - T.A. Gould Jewelers

Lily, a miniature Australian Shepard, greets customers at T. A. Gould Jewelers with a wag of her tail.

Lily might be surrounded by fancy jewelry all day, but this energetic miniature Australian Shepherd has other treasures: rubber balls and squeaky fish.

Owners Tom and Kathy Gould have been bringing dogs in to their shop since they were located in Moorhead, Minn.

The Goulds didn’t like the thought of leaving their dog in a kennel all day while at work.

“It’s not a life for the dog,” said Kathy.

Instead, Lily gets to keep customers entertained while they shop and go about their business.

“Sometimes, you can hear the kids as they come through the door, asking the parents if this is the place with the dog,” Kathy said. “She’s a happy distraction for them.”

When it’s quiet, Lily finds her fun elsewhere. She enforces her needed play time with an iron paw.

“When I’m working, she will come next to my desk and start dropping and bouncing her ball next to me if she wants attention,” said Tom. “She makes me take a break.”

"Hope," "Aspen," "Lily," "Tank" and "Gus" - Hometown Repair

At Hometown Repair, Lee Metcalf said having Hope  and Aspen, or any of his other dogs around, makes it feel much more like home.

Lee Metcalf knows when people come in to his shop, it’s not just to see him.

At Hometown Repair, any any of Metcalf’s five dogs might be lounging around the office, waiting for attention.

“They get lots of love,” said Metcalf. “Most people come in just to see the dogs.”

Hope, Aspen and Lily are American Bulldogs, Tank is an Old English Bulldog, and Gus is a Boston Terrier.

Metcalf said people who wait in the office for their cars often enjoy having the dogs around.

“It’s just like home,” he said. “You come in, sit down and pet the dog. It makes for a family atmosphere.”

The other mechanics are also fond of the dogs, said Metcalf: “They’re not just my dogs, they’re all our puppies. Everyone watches for when they need to go out.”

"Dog" and "Me Too" - Boedy Appliance

Jim Buchanan holding Me Too at Boedy Appliance.

At Boedy Appliance, the two-part welcome squad is led by Dog, a golden labrador, and little Me Too, a yorkie, follows.

Originally, store owner Jim Buchanan was just going to be watching Dog for a short time, so Dog stayed at the store. That was five years ago.

“Now, he’s my buddy,” said employee Sarah Herron.

Eventually, true to her name, Me Too also got to tag along.

Once in a while, Buchanan said, someone will be uncomfortable with the dogs and ask for them to be kept away. But, overall, everyone seems to enjoy them.

Herron said she also appreciates the extra feeling of security that Dog provides.

“If I’m here by myself and forget to lock the back door and someone comes in; he sees them at the window and starts barking,” she said, adding that, “If I’m in a down mood and I come in to work, I see them and my day is all better.”

"Mike" and "Tiger" - Pine Shelter Vet

Two cool cats, Mike and Tiger, greet visitors at Pine Shelter Veterinary Hospital.

Both have called Pine Shelter home since they were found as kittens. Mike was left by the back door of the clinic, and Tiger was found near the golf course.

“There’s never a dull moment when they’re playing,” said veterinary technician Jessica Dupuis.

Hair gets everywhere, papers get scattered and garbage cans get tipped, she said, but the clinic is their home.

“Little kids come in looking for them,” said Dupuis. “It’s a highlight for them in a place that normally isn’t fun for kids.”

"Rio" - Ace Hardware

Rio, a golden retriever, loves to get treats from customers and delivery drivers who stop by Ace Hardware.

Rio is one smart seven-year-old puppy.

In a hardware store, there are plenty of potential hazards that a dog could get into: rat poison, cleaners, hardware or even fishing gear.

But Rio has always been on his best behavior. Well, almost. A wooden paint brush was Rio’s first and only victim. Otherwise, said store owners Nick and Katie Murdock, he has left everything on the shelves alone.

Rio has also learned to tell apart various delivery trucks.

“He knows when UPS is here,” said Katie. “He will race to the back door, because he knows there will be a treat. When it’s a delivery from another company, he doesn’t react.”

At one point, Rio had to go on a diet because he was gaining too much weight, she said. It took a while, but, eventually, they realized it was because he got so many treats during the day.

“He loves the attention,” Katie said. “And most people love seeing him. His bee costume on Halloween is always a hit.”

"Bella" - Perham Focus

Jessica Honer with Bella, who is being trained as a Patriot Assistance Dog and goes to work with Jessica every day.

Bella doesn’t just tag along with Jessica Honer to have fun all day in the Perham Focus office. This German Shepherd is hard at work, learning to be a Patriot Assistance Dog.

Once Bella’s training is finished, she will be matched with a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder or a traumatic brain injury.

Bella goes almost everywhere with Honer, so she can focus on her person and not be distracted by odd sights, smells or sounds while working.

“Being at work is very beneficial for training,” said Honer. “She gets exposed to routines, so as soon as I take my earpiece out and hang it on the charger, she knows it’s time to go home.”

For most of the day, Bella stays quietly by Honer’s side as she works at the front desk.

“A lot of the time, people don’t know she’s there,” Honer said of Bella. “She might readjust and make a sound, then people start to ask ‘Is that a real dog?’”

Once they know Bella is, in fact, real, she is the star of the office.

“A lot of the regulars look for her first, before talking to me,” said Honer. “Some actually bring other people in just to see her.”