|Hobie, a yellow Labrador, spends some time with Tristan (left) and HAC's Peggy Konner.|
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but not far behind on that list is HAC. For it is here in the hallways and offices at 460 West Main Street that one is as likely to encounter a four-legged animal as a two-legged one.
HAC’s proclivity to dogs began a little over a decade ago when its CEO Rick Presbrey adopted SCHENLEY, a Labrador-corgi mix.
This month Schenley, the senior canine at HAC, will celebrate her 13th birthday, spending the day seeking out treats from Marie Johnson, Dolores Barbati-Poore and Alison Reid - “long-term biscuit-ers,” who provide the dog with her daily nourishment, according to Presbrey.
She was born around September 11, 2001 and became a part of Presbrey and his wife Melanie Powers’ family a year and a half later.
“She’s been a valued member of our household ever since and for the last decade has been a part of HAC’s workforce,” Presbrey said.
|Nancy Davison showing Rufus some love.|
Initially, Powers was the one bringing Schenley into work at IFAW in Yarmouth Port. But when Powers changed jobs Presbrey took over that responsibility. It marked a first in HAC’s history – the day a dog began to regularly punch in to work, nine to five, Monday through Friday.
Schenley was perhaps the best dog for what has become the norm at HAC. “She is a very gentle, accommodating, sweet dog,” Presbrey said.
RUFUS, a 10-year-old mutt that vice president of program operations Nancy Davison adopted from a kill shelter in Georgia, was the next to prance into HAC offices.
In his younger days, Davison said, Rufus was somewhat rambunctious so she only brought him in when working in manageable spaces like her current one in the HAC Energy department. “He is a good boy,” she said. “He likes to sleep underneath my desk and at lunch we go for a walk and then he sleeps in the afternoon.”
These days his worst habit is “eating all the tissues and papers” in the trash buckets at HAC, Davison said, attributing this to Rufus “looking for attention.”
At HAC getting that attention is relatively easy to come by. “I have people who like to come over and pet him and talk to him,” Davison said. “It gives people something to talk about and it opens the doors to other communications and relationships.”
|Schenley in her favorite spot: a soft dog bed in Rick's office.|
Presbrey, who added another dog, GRAVY, a miniature Australian shepherd, to HAC’s ranks a little less than four years ago, agreed, adding that this benefit extends to the nonprofit’s clients. “Even though Gravy is really a shy dog he has an appealing appearance so lots of people coming in here for help with housing try to engage him,” Presbrey said. “He makes people feel welcome in the waiting room. Because often times their lives are in trauma having a dog there they can interact with is really a nice thing for a lot of people.”
Julie Wake, HAC’s director of communications and development, has seen the same types of interactions in the lobby with her dog HOBIE, a seven-year-old male yellow Labrador. “The clients trust him and it is almost like a nice distraction for what can be a stressful, daunting time in someone’s life,” she said.
Hobie, who goes by multiple nicknames – Hoberto Gonzalez the Embattled and Butters by his “surrogate mother” Cindi Maule – “is beloved by all,” Wake boasted, including her one-year-old son Soren. His first word? Hobie.
Though she is partial to her yellow Labrador, she said, “I like when other people’s dogs are here. It is very therapeutic to have dogs in the office.”
It is a similar sentiment from HAC accountant Nancy Sander who can be seen on daily walks in the parking lot with ADDIE, a one-year-old bichon frise. “I would have never got a dog if I couldn’t have brought her in here,” she said. “I can’t stand them being left at home all day because they are just like people.”
At HAC Addie is relatively quiet, usually staying inside her crate near her owner’s desk which is exactly what Sander prefers. “She is my family. I love having her with me,” Sander said. “It is pretty cool they let us bring our dogs to work.”
|Addie in the file room.|