Art and framing aren't the only attractions at Kevin Gillentine Gallery (3917 Magazine St., 504-891-0509; www.kevingillentine.com), owned by Kevin Gillentine and Vincent Bergeal. Shop dogs Daisy, Miss Peabody and Lily bring in customers as well. Each of the three West Highland Terriers has a distinct personality and magnetism. "I think we've made sales because people see them," Gillentine says.
Almost 11 years old, Daisy has been on the scene the longest. Gillentine and Bergeal bought her as a gift for Gillentine's mother but adopted the dog when Gillentine's mother moved. Having owned a Westie for 17 years, the partners were smitten with the breed. "Westies and terriers you have to learn," Gillentine says. "They're smart and easy to train, but they don't feel the need to please you like other dogs do. They're very strong-willed."
Although Daisy routinely growls and bares her teeth when Gillentine picks her up, she is like putty in his hands and the calmest, most dutiful of the three. Described as the grandmother of the pack, she likes to hang out under the antique prints at work.
Miss Peabody (also known as Peabody) is the oldest of the three and the most recent addition to the group. Gillentine and Bergeal adopted her from a good Samaritan who found her in a parking lot; they believe she was abandoned there. As a result, the dog keeps tabs on her owners' whereabouts at all times, they say. When not tracking Bergeal's every move from a custom iron dog bed made by Gillentine, Peabody often is perched near the front door. Because she sometimes follows Bergeal out of the gallery, Gillentine and Bergeal made a front door barrier, customized with a peephole so Peabody can keep a lookout for her master.
Lily, the youngest of the pups and currently a shop dog-in-training, was added to the family when a passerby told Bergeal and Gillentine about a litter of Westies. At around 4 years old, Lily spends two days a week at doggie day care and most of the rest of the week with Gillentine in his studio, but soon will be mature enough for shop dog duties like greeting customers, which she loves to do. Gillentine says Lily is the most affectionate and playful of the dogs and will perform a sequence of tricks she's memorized as soon as she hears a rustling bag of treats.
After a hard day at work, the dogs love gnawing through giant chew bones. When not working, they like to splash in the pool at home and visit their beach house, where they enjoy digging in the sand and relaxing on beach towels.
"The dogs bring an air of homeyness and a laid-back atmosphere to the gallery," Gillentine says. "They put everybody at ease."