- Photo by Cheryl Gerber
If customers hear thundering footsteps above their heads at Massey's Professional Outfitters' (509 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-648-0292; 816 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-809-7544; 3131 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-885-1144; www.masseysoutfitters.com) Carrollton Avenue location, there's no cause for alarm. It's probably just resident shop dogs Dax, Razzle Dazzle and Rose making a mad dash for a potential snack.
"They wait for the microwave to beep, and then they go charging over there," says Chad Almquist, web manager and proud owner of Dax and Razzle Dazzle. "Then they'll go back to their secret spots."
Dax, an English springer spaniel/lab mix with soulful brown eyes, has come to work with Almquist for more than six years. Razzle Dazzle joined the pack after Almquist found her wandering the streets.
"I was riding a bike home and this little white dog was barking at me," Almquist says. "She followed [Dax] inside the house, they played together and I was stuck. I was looking for a playmate [for Dax], but I didn't think I would end up with a 12-pound poodle."
It wasn't long before Razzle Dazzle was introduced as the store's newest employee. With the help of paddle sports and cycling buyer Blake Gill, who owns a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Rose, Almquist turned Massey's managerial offices into a pack environment.
Each dog brings its unique strengths to the workplace.
"Razzle is kind of used for a paperweight; she just hangs out on the desk all day," Almquist says. "[She also] does security, because [the other two] don't bark at anybody."
Rose was raised in the store. At just six-and-a-half weeks old, she began accompanying Gill to work, where she'd snooze under the counter beneath the cash register. While working the sales floor, she quickly became the shop's babysitter.
"She absolutely loves kids, like all Labs do," Gill says. "She would not move for adults, but as soon as somebody under 4 feet tall walked in the door, she was on it, and she would keep them busy as long as they needed to be."
Though Rose eventually outgrew her cash register napping spot, she still grabs shut-eye under the table near the store's front windows. For the most part, the trio has moved from the sales floor to the upstairs offices and warehouse space, where they pass the time sleeping, playing and shredding Mardi Gras footballs.
"We used to have about six or seven squeak toys, but they've all kind of died," Almquist says. "[Dax has] Sophie the giraffe, a very expensive child's toy. ... He just walks around and squeaks it and annoys everybody."
Gill says Massey's prides itself on being a dog-friendly operation. Customers are always welcome to bring their dogs into the store, and most of the outdoor sports it promotes, like hiking, paddling and cycling, are dog-friendly activities.
"Rose loves to run with me on the bike; I've got her now where I don't have to use the leash," Gill says. Almquist has a different agenda: he plans to try out bike trailers for the child he's expecting, using Dax as a stand-in. The store even carries a line of pet accessories, including glow-in-the-dark throwing discs and balls, and "dog packs" so dogs can carry their own food and supplies on hikes.
The shop dogs reflect the company's chilled-out philosophy and atmosphere.
"We're ... laid back, local and proud to be a part of the city," Gill says.
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