For pet lovers, there’s something undeniably warm and fuzzy about walking into a favorite store — and being greeted by a friendly cat or dog. Whether these critters prefer to lounge or play, “store pets” become something like mascots, and long-time customers expect to see them when browsing their favorite local businesses.
We decided to check in with just a few of the pets that “work” at Salem’s shops. Each has its own personality and charm. But there’s one quality they all share: they love their customers. And there’s no ignoring them when they want your attention.
The Book Bin
450 Court St. NE
If you’ve been to the downtown Book Bin in the past few years — or if you’ve strolled past the store window — you’ve probably seen Rose. A medium-haired cat with a penchant for lounging in the window by the children’s book section, Rose is a favorite among Salem bibliophiles.
Chosen from the Willamette Humane Society to be a store cat, 2-year-old Rose has quickly made her mark on the longtime Salem business. After all, The Book Bin is basically Rose’s entire universe. The shop is open 363 days a year, making it possible for her to stay there all the time. The Book Bin is a large space, and, other than a couple of storage rooms, Rose has the run of it.
But unlike some cats who prefer their alone time, “she actually tends to like the areas of the store where people go,” manager Kat Baird says.
Though generally social, Rose is still a cat. She has moods. Ask Baird about Rose’s personality, and you’ll get a firm “it depends.” “She tends to be really lovey in the morning, and then really wants to play with people in the evening,” Baird says. “In the middle of the day, she doesn’t really want to have much to do with anyone. … She pretty much sleeps.”
Described as “bossy” and “self-assured,” Rose knows how to get her way — especially at playtime. “When she’s ready for people to play with her, she sits on the other side of the counter and stares at us with this unwavering stare until we play with her,” Baird says. “She’s controlling us with her mind.”
Rose is similarly fearless with the store’s non-human visitors. “Dogs come in and walk around the store with their owners and she will always be about half an aisle behind them — stalking them,” Baird says.
Rose is entertaining to be sure, especially when an employee or visitor finally succumbs to her stare and gets her to chase a toy or laser pointer. But is she good for business? No doubt. There are people who pop in just to see Rose, and then there’s the Rose effect on social media.
“We’ve done tests,” Baird says. “On Facebook, we’ll take a picture [of books] and post it and say, ‘Hey here are these hot new releases.’ Then an hour later we’ll take a picture of the same books with Rose, and the same caption, and hundreds of people see it.”
Cortez and Newman
237 High St. NE
Laurel and Hardy. Martin and Lewis. And … Cortez and Newman, the two tiny dogs that roam amongst the vinyl at Ranch Records.
Newman, an unknown mix that includes dachshund, is a “sweet dog, a docile dog,” store owner Lori Close says. (He’s not that similar to his rascally and conniving “Seinfeld” namesake, if you’re wondering.) Cortez, on the other hand, is named for the Neil Young song “Cortez the Killer.” While the terrier is certainly no killer, Close says he’s “definitely mischievous.”
Thirteen-year-old Newman may be the “straight man” in this duo, but he charms with more than just a sweet demeanor. He’s got a signature move that involves sitting on his haunches and playfully burrowing at the air with his front feet. He pulled that very move in 2006 when Close, who saw him on Petfinder.com, visited him for the first time — and she adopted him immediately.
Cortez, about four years old, has quite a different story. Of the pets we visited for this article, he was the only one not selected with the purpose of being a store pet. He “chose us,” says Close, who found Cortez about three years ago outside in the cold and did some sleuthing to find out he was, in fact, homeless. Cortez immediately became “obsessed with Newman,” Close says, and the two have been entertaining music customers ever since.
Between Cortez jumping around in circles and Newman pawing at the air, it’s a wonder customers can focus on the store’s music selection. “Some people come in and couldn’t care less what I’m selling,” Close says. “They come in to see the dogs.”
Close and her husband, Kit, use the pups to their advantage. “If I get a record that has a dog or cat on it, I’ll [take a picture] of them with it,” she says.
Close says the duo is known around town, and while Salemites may enjoy the pups, the dogs enjoy the people just as much. Close often walks the animals to other downtown businesses, and they are “well aware of which places have dog treats.”
In general, Close loves the spirit of having animals in her store, perhaps because she loves other businesses with their own critters. “I love going to places with pets, but I’m an animal freak — cats, dogs, birds, fish, whatever.”
Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest
240 Commercial St. NE
Lovey, an 11-year-old pure-bred standard poodle, knows how to strike a pose — a throwback to her days as a show dog.
Lovey was about 5 years old, her show days long over, when Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest owner Sylvia Dorney scooped her up in 2009. Dorney had been on the hunt for a shop dog and found Lovey to be a perfect fit. Dorney says Lovey’s name suits her. “She’s a gentle soul. She’s a sweetie.”
Lovey enjoys a fair bit of quiet time, often on her special bed that hides beneath a festive fabric display. She even has her own doggie-themed quilt, made by Dorney. But Lovey has a playful side as well. She’s partial to soft, plush toys (of course), and likes a good game of fetch.
She knows her role in the shop, and she takes a break from sleeping or fetching when customers arrive. “She’s our chief greeter,” Dorney says. “She’s there [at the door] before anyone else.”
As she greets people, her show dog training kicks in — she is controlled and calm, standing close and waiting for customers to pet her. Even with children, “she stands still and lets them touch her from all sides,” Dorney says.
Lovey does assert her need for attention at times, and like Rose the cat, Lovey has her methods. “We have chairs at the counter,” Dorney explains, “and when [customers] are sitting at the counter buying their fabric, she’ll frequently come up and give them a nudge. It’s a ‘you’re sitting and you could be petting’ nudge.”
The dog is a main attraction for many Greenbaum’s customers, and some are disappointed when they don’t find her there. But Dorney closely watches Lovey’s schedule. “She’s 11, so I watch how many hours she works. If we take a Wednesday morning walk, then she either doesn’t get to come in or her dad brings her in [later].”
So when can you be sure to see Lovey? In addition to her usual workdays, there’s her birthday party. On the Saturday closest to her birthday (April 14), Greenbaum’s hosts a party and gives customers a percent discount that corresponds to Lovey’s age. And do people bring her presents? “Dog treats,” Dorney says, “and last year she got a cute little pink collar with a bow on it.”
Tony’s Kingdom of Comics
5420 River Road N, Keizer
For “Game of Thrones”aficionados, the name Eddard needs no introduction. Eddard Stark was one of the book’s and show’s more noble characters. Similarly honorable and “fiercely loyal” is Tony Grove’s 3-year-old Australian shepherd, Eddard, who wanders a different kind of kingdom — Tony’s Kingdom of Comics.
At the colorful and lively shop, Eddard happily romps between action figure collections, books and, of course, comics. Grove brought him home at six weeks old, and he has proved himself to be a natural shop dog. “There’s not a mean bone in his body,” Grove says. “He absolutely loves meeting people, animals, everything.”
Eddard, who sports a superhero-themed collar, is a “fun, happy” pup who wants to “play all the time,” Grove says. And he doesn’t have much patience for being ignored. He barks and jumps occasionally, but it means, “Here I am, don’t you dare ignore me,” Grove says. A jar of treats is a permanent fixture on the counter, but with the note that Eddard should only be rewarded for good behavior.
Eddard is front and center when customers arrive, and has plenty of fans as a result. He receives visitors from a senior center and other shops nearby. “They get rather upset sometimes if I’m not here” and they don’t see Eddard, Grove says.
Eddard has canine pals as well. “A lot of people — especially regulars — make a point of bringing their dogs in. … He loves to play with them.”
Though he’s a fan of all visitors, Eddard sticks close to the head of his kingdom: Tony. “We’re tied at the hip,” Grove says. “He’s gotta be within my sight — always. Even if he’s in the middle of a nap he’ll jump right up [and follow me].”
Eddard and Grove’s superhero-strength bond started developing the first time Grove spotted the pup in a litter of Australian shepherds. “I look over and this one little guy was just sitting over there staring at me. I sat down … and he came over to me and sat down between my legs and stared at me. … That’s the way to pick a dog — let them choose you.”
Grove just hopes Eddard doesn’t follow the example of his namesake, and lives a very long and happy life in his Kingdom of Comics.
Anne Lapour is a freelance writer and pet lover. Her kids are bummed when they don’t get to see Rose chase a toy at The Book Bin.
Jessica Ramey is a hobbyist photographer and artist. When not creating something, she enjoys spending time with her family, and playing ukulele for her three kitties and small flock of hens.