Say Hello to Somerville’s Shop Pets

ace wheelworksSherman is happy to keep you company while your bike gets a tune-up at Ace Wheelworks. Photos by Jess Benjamin.

If you’re like the majority of Somerville residents—roughly 65 percent—that means you rent your home. Plus side: no property tax! Minus side: your landlord may not allow pets. And with an average commute of half an hour, we’re a busy bunch; even homeowners may not have time to care for a cat or dog.

Never fear, fellow ‘Villens! What we lack in personal space, we make up for in shop pets who keep you company while you support the local economy. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list of the city’s domesticated labor (see what we did there?), but it’s a good place to start if you crave a little canine (or cat, or rabbit) companionship while you shop.

Sherman
Ace Wheelworks • 145 Elm St.black cat rescue

At just 1 year and 8 months old, the incredible Sherman is the youngest of the shop pets featured in this piece. He started working at Ace Wheelworks with his person in the winter of 2015.

Even though he’s a young pup, Sherman knows better than to take candy (or treats) from strangers, so if you stop in to visit him, just bring a friendly hello. He loves to chase and retrieve balls, and he’s in charge of Ace’s green initiatives; he heads up the recycling wing by chewing up any plastic bottles that come his way.

Mayble
E. Scott Originals • 199 Highland Ave.

Sweet Boston Terrier Mayble is 8-and-a-half years young and has been managing E. Scott Originals for seven of those years. Mayble’s a smart little gal who knows never to run outside the shop, even if she sees her favorite toddler friends. She loves to snuggle and show off her toys, so it’s no wonder that this girl has clients who come just to visit her. She won’t even bark when she gets excited, though as this interviewer learned, she may yelp if you cross your legs too quickly when you’re sitting for a chat. (Her mom says that’s the only kind of sound she makes.) Mayble can give you her paw—sometimes both! And she’s allergic to chicken, so please, no hot wing bouquets. Although she works in a jewelry store for humans, she’s not one to be left out of the fun. To that end, she has her own line of jewelry: Mayble Labels. These classy collar tags are made by mom and can be customized for the shop or house pets in your life. Mayble has seasonal collars to match the weather—and her mood—and she’s usually sporting one of her signature tags.

wedgwood crane and connolly

Scout
Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly Insurance Agency • 19 College Ave.

How long have you been in the insurance biz? When my humans brought me home at 8 weeks old I really didn’t like being home alone. They decided to take me to work with them, and I’ve been here ever since—so I guess you could say I’ve been in the biz my whole life! It’s a great gig. I get to work with my family all day and meet lots of new friends. What more could a dog ask for?

Can you tell us a bit about your day to day responsibilities at Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly? Well, I usually stroll into work around 8:30 or so. I have breakfast in the office and I spend most mornings supervising my fellow employees and making sure they’re on top of their work and head pats. If clients come in, I let everyone know (usually with a bark or two). I greet them at the front counter, but I make sure to stay behind my gate. Once they’re being helped, I get back to work chewing on my favorite bone or Kong.

Around 11:30 I take my daily walk up and down the bike path nearby. When I get back to the office, it’s lunch time! I make sure everyone has their meal, and if something looks good, I flash my best puppy dog eyes and nudge them with my paw. Most of the time it works, and I’ll get to taste test it for them! When lunch is over, I usually set up at the front of the office and continue supervising. Around 2:30 p.m. I have my daily nap, and this usually brings me to the end of the day. I put my toys away (or watch someone else do it) and help lock up. I do a quick run through the office, make sure all is quiet—and then it’s homeward bound!

What motivates you to come into the office each day? Treats and belly rubs! Plus, I love being around people and checking out all the action in Davis Square.

Can people who stop by to visit do anything to earn your good graces? Please take off your hat and sunglasses, it makes me very nervous when people leave them on. But I do love having visitors! When they ask for me, I get so excited and wag my tail back and forth. I love a good back or belly rub… but the quickest way to my heart? Milkbones!

dogspottingHuckleberry
Loyal Supply Co. • 21 Union Sq.

Huckleberry is a handsome chocolate pointer/plott hound who doubles as director of operations for Loyal Supply Co. He’s quite modest—a little bashful, even—so he may not tell you that his good behavior is what helped his humans think of the name Loyal for their store. He’s been overseeing the shop for about three years now, and when he’s not tending to his duties, he’s busy setting speed records and showing off how small he can be when he curls up. Huck’s favorite time is the morning, when the sun comes through the wide front windows and he can bask in its light. He’s got a bed on every floor of Loyal—loft, main and basement—and his mom, Kim, will move his ground-floor bed over the course of the morning to keep him in the sunniest spots.

While he’s pretty easy to win over with gingerbread cookie treats, blueberries and baby carrots, he’s yet to come around on cats. Maybe we dislike in others what we recognize in ourselves—Huck goes a little batty when someone using their phone at the bus stop reflects bouncing rays of light into the shop, much like cats do with laser pointers. Huckleberry was adopted from Live and Let Live Farm in New Hampshire, and a portion of the proceeds from all leather leash and collar sales in the shop go back to the rescue. And if you really love him, you can take home something to prove you’re in his fan club. Among the many handprinted cards at Loyal, there’s a line that features dog illustrations—each one showcasing Huckleberry or one of his many dog pals.

Max & Zuzu
Bow Street Flowers • 108 Beacon St.

When you walk into Bow Street Flowers, it may take you a moment to notice this shop’s two tiny managers: Max and Zuzu. But what they lack in size, they make up for in efficiency; Max and Zuzu keep the floor spotless by eating the leaves and stems that fall from the work stations. That’s right, this flower shop keeps two beautiful bunnies on its fulltime staff. (There have actually been several bunnies looking after the shop through the years—at one time, there were four.) Both buns are of the Dutch variety. Max is a 3-year-old tan brindle, and his supervisor, Zuzu, is a 13-year-old (!) tan-and-white two-tone. When asked about special tricks, their mom grins and says, “No, no tricks. We just let them be bunnies.” Which is a good thing to be! Bunnies are quiet little diurnal beings who can be litter-trained just like a cat.

Bunnies can get lonely, so it’s nice to have more than one. But they’re very territorial, and like any pet, you should research introducing them to one another before shoving them in a room together. (Since they’re silent, they can do a lot of damage in five minutes should they get into a row.) Luckily, Max and Zuzu have gotten on like gangbusters since their mom brought a baby Max home from the House Rabbit Society. They don’t much care to be picked up, and Max in particular doesn’t like his face to be petted, but they love when little kids come by to visit them in the store—maybe because small humans often have the best snacks? M and Z love bananas, but there’s too much sugar in the fruit for their delicate digestive systems. Since they can’t hit the banana stand, they settle happily for organic apples, rose leaves and timothy hay.

riverdog

Dennis
Riverdog • 321 Somerville Ave.

Dennis is a big, beautiful, 7-year-old orange tabby. He’s been managing RiverDog for six years now, ever since his parents rescued him from Cambridge Animal Control. It all started when a customer, who would often bring her dog along with her to CAC, inadvertently sparked a friendship between the dog and baby Dennis. When she saw how well they got on, she called the folks at RiverDog to tell them she’d found their next shop cat. He walked into the shop like he’d lived there all his life, and he’s been running the show ever since.

somdogChief among Dennis’s responsibilities: teaching dogs with bad manners to respect cats and other authority figures. While most pups learn that lesson pretty quickly, he has lost his patience with troublemakers a few times over the last six years. Since he’s surrounded by doggies learning obedience all day, it’s no surprise Dennis has picked up some tricks of his own. For the right treat (Tricky Trader dog training treats and Look Who’s Happy dog treats are his favorites at the moment), you might get to witness Dennis “sitting pretty” like one of his poodle pals or coming when he’s called from across the shop. Dennis loves dressing up, and every Halloween he gets decked out in full witch garb. His visitations aren’t restricted to store hours; every Friday and Saturday night as folks stagger out of nearby pubs, he scampers to the window to wish them well—and give them directions to the nearest cab stand.

This story appears in the May/June 2017 issue of Scout, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.

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