• Chewie the office dog gets to work at Anderson Feed with co-owner Wendy Anderson. The shih-tzu is one of many hard-working canines that can be found at local businesses.

Dog Days of Dahlonega

SPECIAL SECTION

The Nugget is going to the dogs once again!  Just like our inaugural edition, this week's Dog Days section is for a good cause.  A portion of the proceeds will go towards purchasing a truckload of food for the furry residents of TLC Humane Society animal shelter.  For all the dog-related details, see this week's print edition.

 

An unexpected friendly face at Anderson Feed

You’d think a place like Anderson Feed & Supply might have a big old hound dog or perhaps a pointer laying among the bales of hay or feed sacks. 

You would be wrong.

Instead customers are greeted by Chewy, a shih tsu who goes to the groomer and is treated like royalty by owners Todd and Wendy Anderson.

“We all like Chewy, and the customers warm up to him pretty good,” Todd said. “Chewy sits up here on the counter and greets them.”

Todd had to warm up to Chewy as well. He was not keen on having a shih tzu, Wendy said.

“I had been wanting one forever—he didn’t,” Wendy said. “I saw a picture of shiih tzu puppies for sale on Facebook and just told Todd I had to leave that day and went and picked him up.”

“She found him and told me we were going to get him,” Todd said.

Despite not wanting a dog, Todd has definitely warmed up to Chewy. 

“Our son and I are going on vacation and Todd is staying home so we don’t have to board the dog,” Wendy said. “He says it’s because of work, but ….”

Chewy is the first dog the Anderson’s have had at their farm supply and hardware store on the hill above Millie’s Mini Storage off Morrison Moore. 

“We have several customers who come in looking for him and who bring him treats. First-timers sometimes see him on the counter and think he’s a stuffed animal,” Wendy said. “At the store he’s very friendly and lets people pet him. But he has a different personality at home. At home he doesn’t like strangers, and he is very protective of Caleb” (the Andersons’ 12-year-old son.)

Chewy, Jake and Missy Mae are not the only dogs to grace their owner’s businesses, greeting customers and making friends. 

There’s Izzy at Giggle Monkey Toys, Chloe at North Georgia Wealth Management Group, Zoey at Solutions For Growth and, of course, The Nugget’s own Beau, just to mention a few.

 

Missy Mae continues tradition at Cranberry Corners on the Square

Two friendly brown eyes staring out from a ball of russet fur—that’s Missy Mae at Cranberry Corners on the Public Square.

“She’s the happiest, best-natured dog I’ve ever had,” said Kathy Aerts, owner of the collectables shop on North Park Street across from Hancock Park. “She just lays behind the counter and looks cute, takes walks in the park and lets people pet her.”

Aerts has nearly always had a shop dog. 

Molly, a much beloved beagle who managed to get her picture in Southern Living Magazine when one of its travel writers was visiting the square, spent 10 years at Cranberry Corners. She passed away 10 years ago after having wagged her way into the hearts of business owners and customers alike.

Shortly after Molly’s passing, during a Gold Rush festival, Aert’s daughter Shelly had a booth on the square and Missy Mae entered the picture.

“TLC [a local no-kill shelter] had her at the festival and she walked right into Shelly’s tent. She immediately fell in love with her,” Aerts said. “The joke is she’s Shelly’s dog and she just stays with me. Shelly had to move to a place where she couldn’t keep her.”

Aerts said she tried to bring Missy Mae to work when she was younger, but she was too much of a puppy at the time. With age, however, she is turning out to be a better shop dog than Molly.

“Missy Mae generally listens to me. If Molly wanted to chase a rabbit, she’d chase the rabbit. 

“People still come in asking about Molly. But maybe some day Missy Mae will be as popular as Molly. She’s only been here since spring.”

 

Four-legged employees help customers feel welcome

Something old is new again—at least in Dahlonega. 

In years past a “shop dog” was not an unusual sight. 

Some were friendly, others somewhat on the cranky side, meant to guard the premises more than cozy up to customers.

Today, numerous businesses feature canine critters as part of the office ambiance. 

They can even help with luring customers to come in for the first time or keep them returning over and over.

“[Jake] sits in the window and I’ve had people come in for a quote just because he stares at them,” said Nick Gardiner, whose State Farm Insurance Agency is in an office building on Alicia Lane below the Post Office.

And yes, the one-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever’s full name is Jake … From State Farm. 

And he does have these big brown eyes that seem to beg you to give him at least a pat on the head if not a full belly rub.

Gardiner has been bringing Jake to the office since he brought him home last August. 

He sometimes works long hours, and he didn’t want Jake to be alone at home all day, he said. 

“He’s never spent a day alone. The office is more like his home than where I live,” Gardiner said. “He does occasionally man the office if I go out after work.”

But more often than not, instead of staying behind at the office Jake goes with his owner.

“He enjoys long walks on the square and sunset dinners on the deck at Shenanigans. He loves meeting people. And since I’ve got no wife, no kids and no girlfriend, he’s a great ice breaker,” Gardiner said. “People walking around the square know who he is more than who I am.”

Breaking the ice often gives Gardiner the opportunity to introduce his business as well as himself.

“How do you approach a random person on the street and say hey, I want to talk to you about insurance,” he said. “But people come up to Jake and want to know his name. It’s on his dog tag—Jake From State Farm. He does my marketing for me.”

Jake also works in the office taking payments.

“I have one man who pays in cash and he comes in and gives his payment to Jake,” Gardiner said. “Jake’s gotten around that whole opposable thumb thing.”

Jake doesn’t only take payments and do marketing, however. Aside from being a good greater, he is a support for visitors and those who work in the office as well.

“Sometimes we have to have hard conversations with people, and it’s never easy—for them or for us,” Gardiner said. “Having Jake around is comforting.”

People in residence as Chelsey Park Health & Rehab have also benefitted from Jake’s soothing presence.

“He’s a natural,” Gardiner said.

As chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassadors Committee, Gardiner takes Jake with him whenever he is representing the Chamber. 

The furry fellow is gaining quite a following among folks on the square. He’s done modeling for JR Crider, and has his own Instagram account—#JakeFromSFDahlonega.

“He’s well socialized, welcoming, comforting, but very independent. He can keep himself engaged. He’s great,” Gardiner said.

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