Downtown's Gone to the Dogs

Bellingham is a very dog-friendly community. If you walk around downtown, you’ll be sure to see dogs on walks or playing fetch at our many parks. Hiking trails are filled with dog owners and their four-legged hiking buddies, and people often bring their dogs to the beach. Not only will you find dogs outside, but also in a few of the businesses downtown!

It’s no wonder business owners and employees bring their dogs to the office with the benefits they can provide. Dogs bring relaxation, help open conversation, provide comfort and lower blood sugar, said Chris Monroe, a Whatcom Therapy Dogs organizer. Dogs make for a homey feeling and can help open relationships between customer and business.

We decided to chat with some of the downtown businesses with dogs to see why they bring their dogs to work, and of course to meet the canines themselves.

Kulshan Community Land Trust

Dog Owner: Dean Fearing

Dog: Gaby

Two to three times a week, Dean brings his 5-year-old dog Gaby to the Kulshan CLT office. Gaby truly enjoys going to work with Dean, showing her excitement by running up the stairs, and quickly turning around to look at and bark at him. After her little game, she gets comfy in one of her favorite spots in the office. Visitors will either find her laying against the wall in Dean’s office, or at the entrance with her head hanging out the door.

Dean and Gaby met in Mexico in December 2012, while he was on vacation with family. An awful looking dog came up to them on the beach, followed them around and stayed by their sides without any bribes. Even though she wasn’t taken care of, Dean could tell she had a great personality. After checking to make sure she wasn’t missing from anyone nearby, it was settled - Gaby was coming home to live in Bellingham.

Since her adoption, the energetic, happy dog has gotten good with voice commands. She doesn’t do any complex tricks, but loves to perform the simple ones without any food rewards. She takes pleasure in getting outside, going on walks and stopping to smell everything she can.

Gaby has been accompanying Dean to work since she came to Bellingham. It’s a win-win situation. Gaby gets to go on walks throughout the day, and the walks force Dean to step away from his work and get outside. He also sees people he knows, while walking Gaby, which is a good way to stay connected. “Having dogs in the work environment really helps to soften the feel, and usually people really like it,” Dean said.

Bison Bookbinding and Letterpress

Dog Owner: Kevin and Carly Nelson

Dogs: Lakota, Lila and Billie

Customers won’t find just one dog, but three four-legged animals greeting them when they walk into Bison. Starting with the alpha of the three, but also the one who enjoys pets the most is Lakota, a mini Australian shepherd. She is about 8 years old, and was adopted by Kevin and Carly when she was a year and a half old. Carly saw something special in her eyes, and decided to bring the very sweet, intelligent dog home. Kevin describes her as having a lot of personality - a little crazy and bossy, but very interactive, communicative and a lot of soul in her eyes. She loves walks and hikes, and gets so excited, you would think it’s her first time out. Her previous owner taught her to smile, and Kevin thinks she does it when she feels awkward.

Lila, affectionately nicknamed “Grandma Grump,” is the eldest of the three, at 13 years old. She is a chihuahua and jack russell terrier mix. Lila is generally a little less friendly right off the start, and is quick to bark at people. However, after she’s done barking, she’ll jump up into your lap to sleep. “She’s either silent or screaming,” Kevin said. Kevin describes her as a cartoon dog - a funny nose, floppy ears, bounces when she walks and it looks like she’s grinning a lot of the times. The sweet, happy dog loves to eat, is easy to please and enjoys snuggling.

Billie is the third dog, and newest addition to the family. She is a blue healer and beagle mix and is still a puppy. Carly found her on the side of the road when she was just 3 months old and 6 pounds. Kevin and Carly wanted a puppy to, in a way, “pass down the lineage of personality” of Lila and Lakota. Billie has been learning the ropes from her two sisters and is reminding Lila and Lakota that play is fun. Kevin describes Billie as effervescent, extremely playful and in love with toys. “If left alone, she would take all the toys in the toy bin and spread them out evenly across the yard,” he said. She even holds a stuffed teddy bear in her mouth on walks! She also knows how to lower the window as soon as Kevin turns the car on.

Kevin and Carly love to be with their dogs and have them in the workplace. The three dogs look forward to seeing the employees and customers at Bison, and they make for a happier workplace. Kevin also finds that having dogs breaks down the walls between business owner and customer, and appreciates going to other businesses with dogs.

Downtown Bellingham Partnership

Dog Owner: Kyle Fuller

Dog: Atticus

You’ll find arguably the biggest love bug in Bellingham in the form of an almost 3-year-old goldendoodle at the Downtown Bellingham Partnership. Atticus, or Attie for short, has been going to work with her owner, DBP Marketing Director Kyle Fuller, since she was a puppy in February 2014. Kyle was obsessed with the breed, and finally found goldendoodle puppies in central Washington. She decided to bring home the cutest puppy that just wanted to give Kyle attention, forgoing playing with toys and her litter mates to spend time with Kyle. "She picked me, not the other way around," said Kyle.

Kyle is a book lover, and Attie is named after one of Kyle’s favorite book characters (Kyle's other dog is named Gryffindor, so there's definitely a theme with her pups), and is just as loving as the day she was brought home. Although she is shy with new people, she’s really sweet and squeals when people she loves walk into the office. Attie’s favorite activity is going to the park and chasing after the ball. She bounds after the ball, similar to a deer hopping. “She’s a great outdoor dog. I love taking her on hikes and walks,” Kyle said. “But hell hath no fury like a goldendoodle trying to get her ball!"

Everyone at the DBP agrees she’s great to have in the office. She provides a good stress relief, a “welcome” every morning, and big puppy dog eyes to look at no matter what is going on. “I’ve worked in places without dogs and have been in places with dogs, and there is a different energy with a dog around,” Kyle said. Photos of Attie often end up on the DBP's Instagram, and people downtown recognize Attie and call her the "downtown dog." She is the DBP mascot!

Do you take your pup to work? Send your pics to info@downtownbellingham.com to be featured!

Today's post was written by Kristin Foster, Media Intern.