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[whitespace] Dog Days of Campbell

Pets are welcome in several downtown businesses--and customers love it

Campbell--Shoppers in downtown Campbell are likely to run into any number of four-legged furry greeters, if they hang around long enough.

Many store owners have been bringing their dogs to work on a daily basis, and their customers love it.

Kensington Art Centre owner Michael Symons is just one of many who brings his dog to work.

"He's come to work with me since day one," Symons said. "We've missed only three days."

Symons's dog, Muush, is a 12-year-old white Maltese and trots around the shop, following Symons wherever he goes. When it's not nap time, that is.

Symons, who calls himself a Cockney because he's originally from London, England, said that Muush "just walks around the gallery like he owns the bloody place."

The name "Muush" is actually Cockney slang for "hidden face."

Symons brings Muush to work with him, because "he's my buddy. I've always wanted a business where people can relax. Art galleries are kind of uptight."

Kensington is definitely not uptight, and the customers are definitely relaxed, if not downright giddy as they roll around on the floor with the dog.

"A lot of people come here just to see Muush," Symons said.

Muush isn't the only animal who has the run of the place, though. Louie, a very vocal cockatiel, also enjoys interacting with customers and often sits on the shoulders of art students as they paint on Tuesday evenings.

Last week, Louie was sporting a blue paint splotch on his chest.

"He jumped into an oil palette," Symons said. "He always gets paint on himself."

Louie, who got his name from Louie DePalma, the cabdriver played by Danny DeVito from the sitcom Taxi, hops around whistling and calling himself a "pretty bird."

Symons said Louie has been known to taunt cats, calling out, "Here, kitty kitty kitty."

Muush and Louie have somewhat of a symbiotic relationship--Louie doesn't like the sunflower seeds that come in his feed, so he drops them on the floor, where Muush happily waits to snarf them up.

Symons joked that the only disadvantage to having Louie around is, "If a blonde walks in, he does that wolf whistle and I say, 'I swear it's not me.' "

Otherwise, Symons swears that his pets help business.

"It does really help when you bring out the animals," he said. "A lot of people would love to do it. It's a trend I think somebody ought to start."

Across the road and a little farther east is Findz, The Consignment Store, where Michael Fama and his 3-year-old Shih Tzu, Facha, sits in her leopard print bed.

"She's company for me and most of my customers love her," Fama said. "She's part of my life so she comes to work with me. Most of the people that walk by say hello."

Fama has owned Findz for 2 1/2 years and said he decided to come back to the Bay Area after he'd experienced working in a corporate position in New York that involved a lot of travel.

"I'd had enough of the corporate life and Manhattan," he said. "I'd always wanted to bring a dog to work and have a little bit more of a relaxed pace. I didn't want to get on another plane."

Facha is a rescue puppy, and was abused. When Fama got her, she was missing an eye.

"She's really trusting of people even though that happened to her," he said. "It's a shame the way people treat people and other animals."

But Facha is a very happy dog now, and Fama's customers adore her.

"They love her. I would say 99.9999 percent of my customers for the past 2 1/2 years have grown very fond of her," Fama laughed. "She's pretty easy going. She's a gentle little creature."

Fama agreed with Symons in that Facha sometimes helps business.

"Mostly, she sleeps," he said. "She greets my customers and sometimes helps me make a sale

The most obvious place to find dogs on Campbell Avenue is at the Dermatology for Animals clinic.

Kim Moffitt, a lead nurse at the clinic, has been bringing her 10-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Kody, to work with her since she first began working there a little over a year ago.

Kody is also a rescue dog. About 4 1/2 years ago, he was attacked by a mastiff that grabbed him by the back and shook hard. The resulting injury left Kody with a flap of skin that could almost be pulled over his head.

Moffitt was working in an emergency hospital when Kody's original owners brought him in.

"His owners were going to put him to sleep," she said. "So my husband and I adopted him."

You'd never know to look at Kody that he'd been attacked. His soft brown and white fur covers the long, jagged scar left over from the attack.

Moffitt said Kody has a very mellow and easy-going nature, and greets clients and patients every day.

"I felt bad about leaving him at home all locked up by himself," she said. "The clients have gotten used to him now and ask about him and enjoy saying 'hi' to him."

Moffitt said she's glad she decided to adopt Kody.

"He's just perfect. He couldn't be a better dog other than he barks every time the phone rings," she said, smiling.

Two buildings down are Mary Blomdal and her 14-year-old female black Labrador-retriever mix, Denee.

Blomdal is a project manager for Gridley Company, a design, building and remodeling business. She has been bringing Denee to work a few days a week for the last four years and said her customers and co-workers enjoy having her around.

"Everybody loves her," Blomdal said. "She's such a mild-mannered, happy dog. My boss and everybody here is totally into animals. "

Blomdal used to bring Denee with her everywhere because she did a lot of driving around

"When I started here, I worked out in the field mostly," she said. "I worked on large jobs when we were out at construction sites."

Nowadays, Blomdal does more work in the office, so Denee hangs around the kitchen displays now and then, skidding across the tile and wagging her tail happily.
Erin Mayes

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