Many tales of Americana include working men and women coming home to a happy, eager, loyal dog (or cat, for that matter). But more and more, working adults are making room for their pets right in the workplace.
Across Downtown Lee's Summit and beyond, meet the dogs (and a cat!) that help open up the shops and offices each morning with their owners, their personalities at work, and why some of them have mastered the art of constantly finding workplace treats.
Summit-Embers Candle Bar
From the first day Embers Candle Bar was open, Summit was a fixture in the downtown Lee’s Summit shop.
The 8-year-old Australian Shepherd has quite a following already, too.
“We have several customers, especially the kids, that come in for Summit first and candles second,” says owner Shara Derks. “We have a couple of kids who get really upset if they come in on a Saturday and he’s not there.”
Shara says Summit isn’t an “in-your-face kind of dog,” but rather chill when it comes to customers.
“He’ll usually come over and sniff you to say hi, let you pet him if you want and then just go lay down in the corner when you’re done,” she says. “I think having a dog in the shop just makes people feel at ease.”
Summit is certainly at ease there, coming in since the day they opened.
“He has separation anxiety, so I usually take him with me as often as I can,” Shara says. “He stays home on the weekends or on busy event days because between the scents and all of the people he can get a little overwhelmed.”
Summit loves his walks around downtown, often visiting the Downtown Main Street office, A Thyme for Everything or Blue Heron.
“For me it’s great because Aussies can tend to be really high-energy dogs. He still needs plenty of walks to keep him happy, but it helps that he also gets stimulation from being in the shop and
seeing new people,” Shara says.
And as far as his celebrity status?
“I’m not sure if he’s a celebrity at all, but he does make our social media photos a lot cuter.”
Unlike the dogs who go home with their owners each night, this cat is a permanent fixture at Lee's Summit Animal Hospital North.
Pearl has roamed the halls of the animal clinic for more than 12 years, finding refuge there after one of the vet technicians discovered her injured from a car accident.
Pearl went "unclaimed" and became an instant family member of the staff.
"She is very active in the mornings," said Jess, the front-desk receptionist, "greeting everyone at the front of the office. But by mid-afternoon she becomes grumpy and sassy and will head to the back to nap in her three-stories-high mini condo."
Pearl tends to favor Jennifer, a technician, and Dr. David Voris, but isn't fearful of wandering the lobby and exam rooms seeking attention and affection.
When she needs to, Pearl isn't afraid to let the dogs know she is in charge with the gentle bat of the paw. Fellow felines are a friendly sight, however, and she will even try to snuggle up against the cat crates when another is inside, trying desperately to show affection by licking the outside of the crate.
Clinic workers also report she's a bit of a diva, on occasion walking into the exam room and jumping on a table, stealing the seat away from the cats waiting to be checked.
Phoebe-Drayton Riley State Farm Insurance
At one of the most active intersections of late in Downtown Lee’s Summit, Phoebe holds court.
The office Corgi at Drayton Riley’s State Farm Insurance building at the corner of Second and Douglas Streets greets almost everyone the same way—with a bark.
“You’ll walk by, and she’ll bark at you. Everybody that passes here, you get her greeting,” Drayton says with a chuckle. “She’s noisy and nosy at first, but then she calms down.”
Phoebe belongs to Kim, Drayton’s daughter and a sales and customer service professional at the insurance office. She has been bringing Phoebe to work ever since she was in high school.
That longevity has earned Phoebe more than a few customer-friends and even some pretty special treatment, fitting for a breed that has a history around royal families.
“Corgis have a lot of appeal with that reputation of being around royalty,” Drayton said. “And they’re cute. We have a few customers that go out of their way to bring her treats when they come in, anything from a McDonald’s hamburger to a regular dog treat.”
Drayton said Phoebe is “definitely recognized downtown” but will refuse to walk the strip at SW Main Street.
“She gets freaked out by all the canopies.”
Blu-Life Transformations Personal Training
Blu comes to work every day at Life Transformations Personal Training in an area of downtown Lee’s Summit almost made for a dog: restaurants and the Farmers Market close by, not to mention the Lee’s Summit Fire Department Station #2 Headquarters across the street.
Blu is a 2-year old Boston Terrier who draws the admiration of many that walk by or come in for a workout.
“They think he’s cute. He will jump up on the bench next to you while you work out,” owner Molly Wichman says. “If you throw his ball, you’re committed for the hour. We tell them the first time, so they’ve been warned.”
He’s a hit inside the personal training studio as well as to those walking by, including the steady stream of girls to and from the nearby dance studio.
“Those little dance girls that walk by, they stop and see him because he’s just so cute,” Molly says.
Charlie-Bridge Space Lee’s Summit
If you’ve set foot into Bridge Space, or any of Ben Rao’s companies in downtown Lee’s Summit, you’ve likely been rounded up by Charlie dog.
The 12-year-old Border Collie has been a staple in downtown Lee’s Summit for more than 10 years.
As is his nature, Charlie is loyal to Ben.
“He’s gonna follow me around, but he never has to have a leash. Door to car, car to building,” Ben says. “They’re like the second smartest breed, sometimes too smart. And he hates thunder. But he’s just a working dog. When I shift my weight, he stands up.
Charlie has made dozens of “work” friends, so much so that many have a treat drawer at their office just for him.
“He started working the building pretty hard, so we had to slow it down a bit,” Ben notes.
The treats—and the food trucks—call to Charlie.
"The taco truck on Fridays does give him trouble. When he’s watching his weight, the tacos don’t really do well for him.”
Burt Macklin-Budget Blinds of Lee’s Summit
The most well-known law enforcement agent in downtown Lee’s Summit is also the most popular pup in downtown, too.
Meet Burt Macklin, F.B.I.
The 7-year-old beagle/lab/German Shepherd mix has been a fixture at Budget Blinds on SW Main Street for more than five years, when his owner, Courtney Stoddard, moved back to Kansas City. Burt became the “head of customer service” at that point and can now be found each day basking in the window, wandering the showroom or on a walk in downtown.
“He’s a very understanding dog, gentle, which is great for the kids that come in,” says Courtney, a co-owner of the family-run business. “I would say most people know him, more than they know me, honestly. I was walking him, and someone stopped me and asked, ‘Is that Burt Macklin of the FBI?’ So obviously, he’s got followers.”
Burt is named for the popular character on the sitcom “Parks & Rec” as is Courtney’s other dog, Duke Silver.
Whether it’s a Fourth Friday event or just pop-ins from customers, Burt has a following unlike any other downtown.
“On Fourth Fridays, there are quite a few people that come in just to see him. One couple makes homemade dog treats, others just bring in regular treats. He will eat anything,” Courtney says.
Burt is also known for his extravagant Halloween costumes, sporting a “hippie” look one year, and Courtney’s favorite, his full tuxedo with top hat.