The boss's pet: For some P.E.I. entrepreneurs, dogs are just part of the business

·3 min read

They sometimes sleep on the job, but they're always eager to show up for work. They're great with customers and they'll accept their pay in treats and belly scratches.

For some P.E.I. entrepreneurs, their dogs are almost like employees.

"Half the time there's a client on the couch with a dog on each side," said Lesli Hilton, owner of The Nail Studio in Charlottetown.

Her dogs Fergus and Izabel have been greeting customers for years.

"They really are part of my business."

Lesli Hilton
Lesli Hilton

Hilton has had five dogs come to work with her over the last 30 years. She said "99 per cent" of her clients love them. Some enjoy having a dog on their lap while getting a manicure.

"There are always people who are fearful of dogs. But my dogs are very well behaved."

Hilton said she works long hours and doesn't like to leave her dogs at home.

It's quite cute when he's running around with it because he's got this massive joint sticking out of his mouth. — Stephanie Dooley, Wild Impulse

"When I'm putting my coat on they're ready to go. They've got beds here, they've got food dishes, they greet all the clients," she said.

"Every lunch hour we are out walking. So it gets me out exercising and gets their daily walk too. Everybody's happy."

'There's a dog back there?'

The customers at the adult novelty shop Wild Impulse are often already in a good mood, but Stephanie Dooley says they still light up when they see Beano the Boston terrier and Raven the cockapoo rescue dog.

"It's different to see a dog in a little shop."

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

Dooley said the dogs are usually kept behind the counter or in a back room, but will come out to mingle if customers ask to see them.

"Beano loves to play ball so sometimes you'll hear him whining for someone to throw the ball for him and everyone's like, 'Oh is there a dog back there?' and they get quite excited and say 'Where are they? Where are they? I want to see them.'"

Dooley said it's comical when Beano plays with a stuffed toy in the shape of a marijuana cigarette.

"He loves it. It's quite cute when he's running around with it because he's got this massive joint sticking out of his mouth."

Shane Ross/CBC
Shane Ross/CBC

'Pretty wild'

Sue Smith, co-owner of The Comic Hunter in Charlottetown, says Mazzy, her long-haired dachshund, has "quite a fan base" at the store.

"People come looking for her and they're often disappointed if she's not here."

Sue Smith
Sue Smith

Mazzy is sometimes joined by a French bulldog named Murphy that Smith looks after once or twice a week.

"When Murphy's here it's pretty wild. They chase each other around and have a grand old time."

Sue Smith
Sue Smith

Smith said the store is like an extension of her home, and Mazzy is part of that.

"It's basically like my living room. We've got a sofa here. Why would I leave my dog home if she could come and enjoy the day with me?"

More from CBC P.E.I.