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Some see benefits of bringing pets to work

Fred Krause hangs out in his shop, Structures and Trains by Fred in Batavia, with his dog, Bowie.
Fred Krause hangs out in his shop, Structures and Trains by Fred in Batavia, with his dog, Bowie.

Each day Fred Krause heads to the office, he’s joined by a friendly co-worker who usually spends his time lying near the cash register.

Krause, owner of Structures and Trains by Fred in Batavia, is one of a handful of area business owners who bring a pet to work. Bowie, a petite Shetland sheepdog (named after musician David Bowie because he has one blue eye and one brown eye), regularly accompanies Krause to work and has become well-known to his customers.

“He’s actually a very good partner,” he said.

Bowie has his office quirks. He barks whenever Krause gives customers change at the cash register, and he gets a little excited when Krause turns on one of the model trains in his shop.

For business owners such as Krause, having a four-legged companion in the office makes a difference in the workplace atmosphere. Several area business owners bring their pets with them to work because they say it boosts morale and draws in customers.

For Krause, having his pet at work was important enough to make a stipulation in his lease when he rented his office space on Island Avenue. Having Bowie at work was an issue when Krause was at a different office a few blocks away, where neighbors complained about Bowie’s barking.

That’s one of the downsides to having a pet at work.

“We were kind of evicted,” he said. “When we rented this place, I said, ‘the dog’s got to come.’ ”

It can be time-consuming to periodically take pets outside during the work day or fence them off if a customer doesn’t like pets. For those reasons, animals don’t belong in every workplace setting, some say.

But those who bring their pets to work say the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Taffy Wille, co-owner of Geneva Tire & Auto Store in Geneva, brings her two golden retrievers and springer spaniel into work one at a time during different days of the week. She said it has been a tradition in her family business since the oldest dog was a puppy.

“As they grew up, people grew to love them,” she said. “They bring smiles to customers’ faces.”

Wille said each of her dogs has a different personality. Taxi, a golden retriever, usually greets customers with a toy and loves attention. She describes her other golden retriever, Revo, as “the worker” because he likes to move cardboard boxes around when they get a delivery. And their springer spaniel, Payton, is older and likes to relax when he’s at work.

“They’re a stress reliever for us,” Wille said. “I wish more businesses allowed their pets to come to work. It’s amazing no matter how rotten your day is going, a pet can turn your whole day around.”

At Apple Graphics in Batavia, an American Staffordshire terrier and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Taxi goes to work every day with Kyle Hempel, director of sales. Hempel said his co-workers love having the dog there and often bring treats for him. He said the only time he was nervous about bringing Taxi into work was when Taxi was potty training.

But he said he hasn’t had any issues in the five years Taxi has accompanied him to work.

“I definitely think any business owner should try to bring in pets,” he said. “It usually goes over really well.”

Two Havanese dogs named Leo and Lucy also have become fixtures at Mercedes-Benz of St. Charles. General Manager Craig Falkenthal brings them in at least once a month, sometimes more, because as it turns out, they’re big customer pleasers.

He said some customers bring their dogs to the dealership, and he believes being such a dog-friendly place entices customers to patronize the dealership.

“The customers absolutely love having the dogs at the dealership,” Falkenthal said. “It completely humanizes the people at the dealership. ... Dogs emphasize the human side of us.”

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