Saturday, April 14, 2007

Therapy and Customer Service in One

Although she got Wyatt, a miniature schnauzer, after she retired, my mother would identify well with Lisa Belkin's latest column:

At Urbanspacedevelopment, a real estate design company in Philadelphia, it is the responsibility of the three resident pugs, Leo, Max and Lola, to “welcome clients and visitors, sit in on meetings (Leo in particular), rove around and give people needed breaks and otherwise play or sleep in the background,” Sam Shaaban, the company’s president, said in an e-mail. “They lighten the mood and offer themselves to stressed clients for caressing.”

In fact, they do that work so well that when the company redesigned its office space recently, “we made sure to include comfortable yet chic dog beds,” Mr. Shaaban said. . . .

I have to face the fact that I, too, have rearranged my work around Riley. (I have become quite adept, for instance, at typing with one hand, because the pampered pup whimpers should I stop petting him with the other.)

So it is only a short jump to the role Jenifer Lew gives her terrier, Charlotte, at their decorative candle company, Jen Lew Designs, in Mattituck, N.Y., on Long Island. The dog is listed on all correspondence as the head of customer services, and it is Charlotte who gets e-mail when there is a problem.

“It saves a lot of headaches,” Ms. Lew said, “especially with difficult customers.”