Pets lend helping hand at some workplaces

Sara Olivarez works with two dogs on her desk Monday afternoon. She said Jasmine, right, and Veronica are a good addition to the office. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The furry and feathered fixtures found at two local businesses create a pleasant environment for employees.

Veronica and Jasmine, two Japanese Chins, commute to the Eye Care Clinic a few days a week with their owner, Dr. Keith Barker. The dainty dogs have been coming to work with their master for the last two years, according to employee Sara Olivarez. The well-groomed pair accompany Barker to the office instead of being left at home alone.

As Barker goes about his daily duties as an optometric physician, the dogs find a place where they can unobtrusively watch the bustle of the busy office with their large, bulging, expressive eyes.

The transition from house dog to office pet is obviously easy for Veronica, who prefers to lie quietly in a black-and-white heap on the desk of employee Summer Palmer. With the dogs’ docile nature, many customers have mistaken the pets to be stuffed animals, Palmer said.

Palmer, a self-described animal lover, said she enjoys having the canines around the office.

“It makes the day go by faster,” Palmer said.

Olivarez, who has no pets of her own, said she considers Barker’s dogs her surrogate pets.

“Having these dogs at work is like having grandkids,” Olivarez said. “I get to do the fun part and then send them home.”

According to the Eye Care employees, the customers always enjoy seeing the dogs.

“Customers come back in with their kids and spouses,” Olivarez said, “just to see the dogs.”

Both employees agreed they could not imagine a work environment without the four-legged pair.

“They are very affectionate,” Olivarez said. “They give us hugs and kisses and make us smile.”

Across Clovis, 25 zebra finches call a Main Street storefront window home. The fist-sized gray birds flit happily within their glass habitat. The red-beaked, white-breasted birds enjoy all the comforts of the outside, including a tree filled with honeycomb-shaped nests and a large bowl of water for bathing.

Craig Ham, owner of The Copier Supply Co., where the birds reside, said he chose to fill his window’s with the finches strictly for decoration purposes.

“We remanufacture printing cartridges,” Ham said, “so nothing we do would look good in a window.”

Ham said he enjoys the self-made aviary and the noises the birds emit.
“They sound like geese honking, don’t they?” Ham said.