Charlotte, N.C. — – It's been said the love between a dog and its owner is like the love between a parent and child.
So, what happens when "pet parents" have a business that could take them away from their beloved pooch for hours on end?
For three Charlotte business owners, it means dog logos, dog-inspired business names and dogs hanging around the office, going to meetings and sloshing on water in the break room.
Katie Tyler's decision to let dogs roam in her office was a business strategy: She wanted to keep a good employee.
Her accountant worked hard, but spent most of her time at her desk and computer, said Tyler, chief executive of commercial firm Tyler 2 Construction.
The employee, Tyler recalled, said she had just lost her dog and wanted to get a puppy but she didn't want it to be alone. "Before she got the words 'can I bring her to work' out of her mouth, I said, 'bring her to work.' "
That was 14 years ago. Of Tyler's 23 employees, about five own dogs with a second home at the company's office. On any given day, six to seven canines can be found attending office meetings, chomping ice in the break room or napping on orthopedic beds. The dogs ring a bell tied to a door if they need to go outside.
There are some simple in-office ground rules:
■Each dog must be vaccinated and up to date on heartworm and flea medication.
■Each dog has to be groomed.
■Dogs must be well behaved.
But even when some of the pups are a little rambunctious, they tend to mellow out within a few weeks, Tyler said.
Sadie, a 1-year-old chocolate Labrador, has been an office fixture at Charlotte's Evans Coghill Homes. Owner Chris Folk decided to bring Sadie to his office so she could socialize with humans.
It's at that business that Sadie has a bed, food bowls and chew toys. She often joins Folk on job sites, sniffing homes under construction and removing trash with her mouth.
"It was a little bit challenging during the puppy stage," said Folk, adding that Sadie was very active and required frequent walks. "Now ... she's much more apt to sit here with me."
The Lenny Boy Brewing Co. has a dog-friendly taproom and a dog in its name and logo.
When Townes Mozer decided to start the microbrewery, he looked to his 80-pound Labrador terrier, Lennox. Everyone calls him Lenny Boy, Mozer said. Hence, the business name.
Do puppies drive profits?
Lenny Boy Brewing Co.: While Mozer's taproom, where the beer is served, is not a doggie free-for-all, he does believe letting dogs in brings more customers.
Evans Coghill Homes: Having Sadie in their design center helps break the ice for Chris Folk's clients when they choose products for their home, he said.
Tyler 2 Construction: Katie Tyler doubts clients choose her firm just because of the dogs. But there's no doubt they play a critical role in company branding.