Pets On the Job

posted October 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Pat Atkinson

It’s the Law!
Bad Guys Beware with Smokey on the Job


Smokey was grumpy.  At the groomers that morning, there was an unacceptable substitute in place of his regular grooming person.  Uh oh.

So he growled when the photographer later arrived at the office, but his mood improved after a dog-cookie break and a brief admonition from the big boss.

Smokey, a miniature Schnauzer, is guard dog on-the-job at his people’s mid-town law firm of attorneys Phil Frazier and Sharon Phillips.

As soon as you meet him, it’s evident that there’s nothing “mini” about this guy.  He’s a quick study, extremely well-mannered, has a versatile vocabulary, can tell time, and has a sharp instinct figuring visitors’ intentions.

Smokey had to try out for his job before he became a full-time employee, joining the two attorneys, co-worker legal assistants Ann Lanning and Stephanie Thomasson, and pre-law student John Gladd.

Smokey on the job.

Frazier wasn’t too convinced about the benefits of a dog in a law office, but two burglaries during office hours were a concern.  Then, at home during mid-morning darkness, the Schnauzer loudly warned the sleeping couple of strangers at their downstairs door, thus preventing an attempted break in.

After a few days on office assignment, “It didn’t take Smokey long to catch on.  Clients are always met with some sort of a bark.  So are salesmen, the postman and other visitors,” Frazier says.

“Smokey has been on the job for over three years and we are amazed at his instinct in determining the good guys from the bad guys.”

Clients at the law firm can be stressed and some are easier to work with than others. Phillips practices family and domestic law; Frazier’s focus is contracts and municipal law.

“Over the years, we have noticed Smokey seems to have an instinct as to the client personality traits.  His greeting and verbalization are remarkably accurate in predicting forthcoming case-client scenarios,” Frazier comments.

Smokey’s day begins at home, waiting by the door to leave for work.  He dog naps during the drive in, but wakes up with a happy yip a few minutes before arriving at the office.  He races through the door, greeting his co-workers as if he hasn’t seen them in weeks.

He shares office space with Frazier and has a guard “station” in the reception entry.  Breaks are outside events “entertaining” the squirrels.  He knows office hours are not meant for romping, but as his internal clock nears 5 p.m., he finds a toy to elicit some  people-play before lock-up.

Smokey’s job reviews are up scale.  He’s trained for safety and is loud and possessive when protecting the ladies in the office, kid-friendly and knows the regular visitors.

“With Smokey on the job, we have had no more thefts and no more burglaries,” Frazier says.  “There have been no more strangers at the door in the middle of the night and we are paying more attention to his evaluation of case/client profiles.”

And, he’s always available for a furry hug, a perk for the pet-loving staff.

So, has he earned a desk, a promotion, a new title after three years?

“We are considering getting him a desk; he already occupies an office chair.  We heard about a prank at a university where a dog got a degree in his name.

“What do you think, Smokey Bear, Behavioral Science?  Or PhD. Psychology?”


June Bug

Banking on Saving Lives

Pets Donate Blood to Help Fellow Friends

June Bug is a beautiful classic brown tabby cat who purrs often and likes to gently pat her people on the face and leg.

She got her name because a few years ago, on a day in June, she was about to be squished like a bug.  That day the tiny kitten was being drop-kicked back and forth by a group of cruel kids.

“They were killing her.  When my daughter, Jessie, saw what they were doing, she marched up to the group and grabbed the kitten,” says veterinarian Judy Zinn, Feline Specialties Veterinary Hospital.  “Amazingly, she wasn’t seriously injured – yet.”

Jaydyn is a flashy black 3-year-old Boxer dressed in a brindle coat marked with white on her face, chest and feet.  She smiles a lot, is a top-scoring obedience national competitor and literally flies through the weave poles on agility courses.

Just for fun, she “loves to swim, not in those little wading pools, but in the big people pool in the back yard,” says Tracy Hendrickson, Tulsa’s number one Boxer-fancier who has worked on behalf of the breed and other pets in the metro area for almost three decades.

June Bug and Jaydyn, both with deep rich dark chocolate markings and sweet personalities, share a job description.  

The two are blood donors, providing for pets in ways similar to what people do when donating blood through the Red Cross. 

“We try to do for dogs and cats what the Red Cross does for people,” Tracy explains.  She is the primary connection for veterinarians in the four-state area when dog or cat donor blood is needed for emergencies, surgeries, and for re-stocking supplies.

For 26 years, she owned and operated Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Tulsa and sold it about a year ago, but retained the blood bank service, Companion Pets Veterinary Blood Bank.  And, she has lived with Boxers since childhood.

“I’ve always been able to bring my dogs to work with me and one day a vet asked if they could use one of my dogs for an emergency blood donation,” she recalls.  A medical technologist, she has a specialty degree in hematology.

The word spread, a blood banking and delivery service was born as a part of the laboratory business, and veterinarians were able to get good, safe blood without continuing the common practice of keeping living donor animals on-site in their clinics.

“As Tulsa Boxer Rescue grew, we got more donors in the pool and demand grew, too,” Tracy says.  The blood bank program now includes about 50 dogs, mostly Boxers, and blood is drawn two to four times weekly for ground delivery to clinics.

Boxers are universal donors, type negative (the other is positive).  Cats are type A or B, with A the most common.  

“These are people’s pets helping other people’s pets,” she explains.  A portion of the blood bank’s profits go to fund Tulsa Boxer Rescue, which has rescued and helped find homes for more than 1,000 Boxers over the past 25 years.

When blood is drawn from a dog, “the worst part of it is the alcohol-smell when the skin area is cleaned,” Tracy comments.  The dogs sit quietly for about five minutes, getting their ears scratched as blood flows into the sterile collection bags, then they’re rewarded with treats.  It’s as if they hardly notice the blood draw.

To meet calls for cat blood, Dr. Zinn is able to draw from two hospital kitties – Black and Archie – rescued from certain death at a shelter, and her personal pets including June Bug.

Common reasons for blood transfusions in dogs and cats are flea and tick anemia, surgeries, ingesting a poison, or heavy worm infestation.  Transfusions can also aid puppies with parvo.

Both women agree that blood transfusions bring quick results – within a short time, sick or injured cats sit up and begin meowing, weak dogs are able to stand and wag their tails in thanks.

So, June Bug and Jaydyn have big jobs … donating life-sustaining blood to best friends in need.

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