Tag Archives: cats

Professional Pets

May 3, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some of the names spoken about at the marketing firm Envoy might seem unorthodox: Adam, Steve, Stella … and Butter? These names don’t belong to people, but to a pair of Devon rex cats, a French bulldog/pug, and a mini goldendoodle. Dentists have kept tropical aquariums in their waiting rooms for generations, but expanding a workplace’s pet-tential is far more common than that.

Penny Hatchell and Kathy Broniecki have owned Envoy for 13 years, producing materials for clients as varied as Hiland Dairy, Boys Town, and Max I. Walker Cleaners. The decision to allow pets in the office came from the desire to create a flexible and welcoming work environment: “We love to come to work, and we want our employees to come to work,” Broniecki explains. The decision seems to be working for them: “There’s a much greater overall wellness to the office—our quality and productivity has improved, and it keeps things light.”

Kathy Broniecki’s French bulldog/pug, Stella, comes to the office daily.

The animals are great for keeping employees happy, or helping employees who have a bad day cheer up.

“This has been studied and we can see that animals have value in emotional therapy, or to be assistant animals in places like nursing homes,” says Teresa T. Freeman, a therapist in Omaha. “They have noticed a positive effect in studies pets have on people in isolated situations to help boost their mood, wellness, and even improve physiology—things like heart rate, blood pressure, and other stress responses.”

The cats were rescued and considered part of Envoy, while the dogs and a hedgehog are others’ personal pets.

Broniecki says the company is reasonable about how having pets around can affect productivity, too: “It’s natural to get distracted at work, and focusing too hard can just make things worse. Getting by distracted by the pets is a much more positive outlet than other options,” Broniecki says.

Perhaps the greatest boon to Envoy has been the camaraderie the animals’ presence has built. “One stormy day,” Broniecki says, “Adam the cat went missing. It became an all-hands-on- deck situation in that moment trying to find him.” Everyone keeps treats on their desks for them, and when the dogs arrive in the morning, they make sure to greet every employee first thing, desk by desk. Hatchell, who takes the cats home with her when the day is over, adds: “even over the holidays, I’ll get texts asking how they’re doing, and even requesting pics.”

That camaraderie is a common bond between employees and furry friends, and can be a way to connect with shyer clients or new staff members.

“It breaks down barriers,” Freeman says. “People may not be comfortable with where they’re at emotionally, or isolated.”

Envoy’s office cat Adam, is a rescue cat.

Envoy is not alone in enjoying the pet perks. At J.A. McCoy CPA (located off 90th and Maple streets) Julie McCoy, in partnership with her rescue dog JoJo, tackles that lightning rod of stressful situations—taxes. McCoy has kept a dog at work since day one of starting her firm. “We work a lot of long hours, and dealing with taxes and estates is often not a fun experience. But with JoJo here, people look forward to coming in,” she says. Like at Envoy, McCoy has seen the same positive influence in her office: “Clients love it–we get a lot of business by word of mouth because of JoJo.” And of course, employees are encouraged to have play time. “We’re doing stuff that requires a lot of concentration, so it’s good to have a break.”

Pam Wiese, V.P. of public relations for the Nebraska Humane Society, also believes that having pets in the office can do wonders to reduce stress. “Focusing on something that isn’t another person, like the nurturing qualities of animals, can help calm people down.” Pets, she says, provide an element of levity that certainly has value in defusing tense work scenarios. She brings her own dog to work every day, but cats, fish, and even critters can all contribute. “We once had a bearded dragon here in the office. He’d sit out on his rock and sunbathe while people came to visit him over their lunches,” Wiese says. Though the NHS has not made any concerted push to get animals into offices, they have had their share of interested parties looking to adopt. “We’re happy to work with people to find an animal for them,” she says, “as long as it’s an appropriate situation.”

There are certainly many factors to weigh before introducing a pet into your own office. “Animals need to be comfortable,” Weise says. If the conditions aren’t safe or comforting for the pet, that opens up the opportunity for additional problems, like becoming loud or aggressive. If you’re going to have a pet, they will need to have their own private space and occasionally training to cope with many active people surrounding them. There’s also the human factor to consider: not everyone is an animal lover. “You’ll need to be considerate of the phobias, allergies, and even prejudices of the people passing through your workplace.”

McCoy, Broniecki, and Hatchell were all able to speak to experiences with clients that turned sour because of their furry compatriots, but also noted that they were few and far between. “Only one client of ours didn’t want to come to the office because we had cats,” Hatchell explains. Similarly, McCoy shared that she did have clients with phobias: “We always try to be upfront and communicate ahead we’re a pet-friendly office. When a client comes in that has trouble with that, we make sure JoJo stays in her ‘office’ [and she does have an office, nameplate and all].”

Regardless, they were each in confident agreement: their pawed pals have been a big plus for their businesses.

Nora belongs to Amy Goldyn.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Chloe

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Rat Terrier. Hates cats. Free.

When Joe Horejsi saw this ad in the Thrifty Nickel, he could never had anticipated the impact it would have on his personal and professional life.

Horejsi is the owner and operator of Joe’s Collectibles, a unique antique store at 1125 Jackson St. that has been a staple in the Old Market for over 25 years. Six years ago, Horejsi decided that he wanted to liven up his shop. He’d seen dozens of thrift shops with cats roaming their aisles, so he started “kicking around the idea of having a dog.” He found the Thrifty Nickel ad the next day and headed out to meet this cat-hating terrier.

The dog’s owner was smoking a cigarette outside when Horejsi arrived at her trailer home. The first words out of the woman’s mouth were “she don’t do no tricks.” That was the moment Horejsi decided that he was going to be a dog owner.

Chloe1Chloe, the rat terrier that hates cats, adjusted quickly to life with Horejsi. She was comfortable in the shop and soon began to sleep on the checkout counter while Horejsi worked. On one portentous day, Horejsi saw Chloe curled up on the counter with an open book. He decided that she needed a pair of reading glasses and was surprised to see her roll back her ears when he went to place a pair on her head. He was even more surprised when the glasses remained in position as she went about her daily routine. Being the shrewd businessman that he is, Horejsi knew that he was on to something big.

Horejsi started collecting fashionable pairs of glasses for Chloe and, before long, she was dressing up in full costumes. Horejsi’s customers loved seeing Chloe in her outfits and unfamiliar faces began to flock to the store to take pictures with the friendly and fashionable rat terrier.

A lot has changed in the six years since Chloe met Horejsi: Chloe now has over 500 pairs of glasses and dozens of masks and hats. Hundreds of pictures of Chloe are collected in piles on the checkout counter and in thick photo albums. There are photos of Chloe dressed as Zorro, Batman, the Red Baron, Tony Soprano, and Warren Buffet.

But Chloe does more than just pose for the camera. She also offers companionship and comfort to those in need: Dozens of children, shoppers, strangers, and nursing home residents have had their spirits lifted by Chloe’s loving nature and human-like hugs (yes, she gives actual hugs).

If you’d like your own photo op with Chloe, or if you’d just like a hug from a dog, you can visit Joe’s Collectibles any day between  the hours of 12:30 and 7 p.m. Chloe loves people and attention, and will usually strike a pose for a photograph. Keep in mind that Chloe’s lifestyle and career demand a lot of beauty sleep, so she may be resting if you visit before 3 p.m.

And don’t underestimate this dog. She does a lot more than tricks.

Call 402-612-1543 or visit omahadowntown.org/shop for more information. Encounter

Canine Calamity

April 9, 2015 by

Originally published in March 2015 Herfamily.

I never had a pet as a child.

Okay, so I did at the age of 9 or so have an ill-fated and short-lived guardianship of a turtle whose name I’ve long forgotten, but I’ve never been a pet person.

My mother abhorred the idea of anything furry dwelling in her home, and I was pretty much fine with that. The feeling carried over into adulthood, and my three now-grown children probably felt super-lucky just to have had the brief company of a single pet, a (clean and non-slobbering) feline named Scribbles.

Viral videos portraying cats and dogs doing whatever it is that cats and dogs do have never appeared on any of my playlists. And to be frank, people who describe their little quadruped cuties as their “children”…well, kinda creep me out. I have no innate aversion to cats, even though I take them to be whiskered sociopaths of evil intent, but I have never been at all comfortable around dogs of any make or model.

Before the hate mail begins, please allow me at least a shot at redemption.

My grandsons Barrett and Easton are growing up in a home where the company of canines is prized. Their collie, Summer, recently ascended to that great dog pound in the sky and, after an appropriate period of mourning, has been replaced by a border collie pup carrying an equally seasonal name of Winter.

It’s an understatement to say that I never hit it off with Summer. Perhaps it didn’t help that she stained our Oriental rug as a pup not 10 seconds into her very first visit to our home. My son, Eric, entered with Summer while explaining that all would be well in that the creature was doing a smash-up job when it came to taking care of business, but it was too late. The little thing bounded (Is that what dogs do? They “bound?”) directly to the rug, lifted one leg, and…you know the rest.

I have promised to be different with Winter. My kids already know that I am neurotic, but I don’t want Easton and Barrett to grow up thinking that their granddad is some kind of loathsome monster. I am going to do my best to get to know Winter and not be such a basket case.

Not surprisingly, my first encounter with Winter was, shall we say, trying. “He’s just young and excitable,” I was told as the dog tried to climb up my leg. Yeah, tell that to my now urine-stained shoes (suede, no less) and newish sweater scarred by Winter’s talons or toes or paws or whatever it is they’re called.

But it is with a certain sense of self-satisfaction that I can report that I kept my cool. Now, the notion of “cool” is subjective. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction was, admittedly, to jerk my knee in revulsion, but I collected myself as quickly as possible and tried my best to not make an international incident of the affair.

I really need to up my game in being the grandpa that I hope to be, but boy, do I have my work
cut out for me.

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Selfless Selfishness


January 11, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A recent visit to the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) found volunteer Chet Bressman deep into an adoption consultation with Sara Edwards, Amanda Hoffman, and a pup of questionable parentage named Nina. There had apparently just transpired a minor spat of sorts, and Bressman was setting things aright so that an interview could begin in earnest.

“No big problem,” Bressman explained. “It’s just that she was getting a little mouthy, and we had to…the dog…Nina…Nina was getting mouthy…not either of these nice young ladies,” the amiable Bressman sputtered as the women made an unsuccessful attempt to suppress giggles.

“Not only does he know the history of the Nebraska Humane Society, he is a vital part of that history. He’s played an important role in where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
— Pam Wiese, NHS Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing

Bressman was working adoption duties that day, but his other efforts over the last 15 years have included everything from building kennels to driving the PAW mobile adoption unit and more. His tireless dedication—60 hours a week of volunteering is not uncommon for him— led to him and his wife, Louise, being recognized by NHS with its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Chet and Louise are fixtures here at the Nebraska Humane Society,” says Pam Wiese, the organization’s vice president of public relations and marketing. “Chet has been here so long and has put in an incredible number of hours. Not only does he know the history of the Nebraska Humane Society, he is a vital part of that history. He’s played an important role in where we’ve been and where we’re going.”

The couple, both longtime volunteers, met at NHS and dated for four years before being married over 10 years ago. “She came with all her papers and licenses in order,” Bressman quips.

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Bressman was part of the organization’s team that traveled to coastal Mississippi on an animal rescue mission in the devastating wake of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, and he joined the ASPCA team for a similar trek to Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado wrought destruction on that town in 2011.

Bressman’s commitment to animals knows no geographic boundaries, but his heart, he says, will always be for the sprawling NHS complex near 90th and Fort streets.

“I want the Nebraska Humane Society to be the very first words people think of when it comes to new pets,” he says. “There are so many puppy mills and so much bad breeding out there, and we don’t put up any unhealthy animals for adoptions. It’s a win-win situation in every way. It’s a win for the animal, for the adopting family, and it’s a win for the community because every adoption opens a new space here for us to do it all over again.”

“He told us everything; the day the dog came in, where she was found, her health at the time. He knew absolutely everything about Nina. He’s a real adoption pro.”
— Sara Edwards

The Bressmans live with Golden Retriever Buddy (11) and cat Sophie (17). Last year they lost Gracie, but her memory lived on when NHS commissioned a caricature of the Golden Retriever for use as the official mascot of the nonprofit’s annual Walk for the Animals.

Back in the adoption room—one brightly painted in the hue of cheery sunflowers—Bressman was coaching Edwards and Hoffman on some of Nina’s special needs. The dog, a Boxer-Dalmatian mix, was born deaf, and that meant the learning of hand signals along with other tips.

“Fold your hands,” Bressman gently explained to Hoffman, but not before she playfully wiped some of Nina’s slobber onto Edwards’ sweater. “That’s right. Now turn away from Nina. You got it.”

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Safety was also paramount in the discussion because each woman, both recently divorced, had a young child at home. Neither of the kids knew that Nina—an early Christmas present—would be awaiting introductions when they returned from school that day.

“Chet was great to work with,” Edwards says. “He told us everything; the day the dog came in, where she was found, her health at the time. He knew absolutely everything about Nina. He’s a real adoption pro.”

“More like an adoption god,” adds Hoffman. “We couldn’t believe it when we learned he is a volunteer. He should have his own show on Animal Planet.”

“I knew that was going to be a good adoption. Nina is going to a good home with good people where she’ll get lots of love and care.”
— Chet Bressman

Bressman was equally happy with how Nina’s adoption unfolded. “I knew that was going to be a good adoption,” he says. “I always know. Nina is going to a good home with good people where she’ll get lots of love 
and care.”

And then Bressman admits that he, the seemingly selfless co-winner of such an august award as the Lifetime Achievement honor, secretly harbored the most selfish of motives in his interaction with Edwards, Hoffman, and Nina.

“Best of all, it’s a big win-win for me, too,” he beams. “That one made my day!”

Visit nehumanesociety.org for more on Nebraska Humane Society adoptions, programs, and events.