Dogs brightening Pittsburgh-area workplaces

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 16, 2013 at 10:25 am •  Published: December 16, 2013
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Lou Folino waited to pay for his haircut while Romeo and Juliet rolled around on the floor nearby.

The 4-month-old American bulldog pups bumped into his legs, swiped at each other's scrunched-up faces, and nipped each other.

"They're clearly having a good time," a bemused Folino said while watching the pups play inside MCN Salon in East Liberty.

Romeo and Juliet accompany salon owner Lisa McNamara to work every day. They're part of a niche business model putting animals in the workplace. Their presence creates a homey atmosphere, lowers stress levels and makes people happier and healthier, simply by being cute and friendly, said business owners and animal experts.

"They bring a lot of joy," McNamara said. "They put people at ease. And clients think it's kind of cool that we're a high-end salon here, but we have dogs. It makes them feel that we're in tune with them, that we're real people."

Lauren Rimkus, therapeutic services coordinator at Animal Friends in Ohio Township, said studies show that having pets in a workplace relieves anxiety and lowers blood pressure.

"They definitely lighten the mood and create a more fun atmosphere," she said. "They are very calming."

At the Fairmont Hotel, Downtown, Edie the canine ambassador greets guests in the lobby. She chases her rope ball across the slippery marble floors and stares out at passing pedestrians — many of whom pause to stare back when they see a big, white dog in the fancy hotel lobby.

"She brings a sense of home for our guests," said Julie Abramovic, public relations manager and Edie's primary handler. "There's something about having a friendly dog hanging out in the lobby that creates a sense of home."

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