The Boston Globe

July 27, 2003

By Joe Berkeley


While the proprietors of many Newbury Street businesses work until their feet ache and backs beg for mercy, a different breed of Newbury Street employee spends days sleeping on the job, enjoying snacks, and rubbing up against beautiful people.

During the dog days of summer, Newbury Street goes to the dogs. Rolex, a black Labrador retriever, is the ambassador of goodwill at Time & Time Again, a watch store at 273 Newbury. With a hefty wag of his otter tail, Rolex gazes up at customers with a look that says "Pat me now!" Over the past seven years on the job, says Shane Coley, his human companion, Rolex has been photographed by over 2,000 visitors to Boston. His biggest fans are tourists from Japan.

According to Coley, Rolex has been a lure for tourists and college students who miss their dogs. Although none of them have left the store with Rolex the dog, more than a few have purchased a new watch bearing his name.

As a reward for his hard work, Rolex was presented with a handmade dog tag complete with Rolex insignia by a jewelry maker. By all accounts, he is a highly motivated employee.

The same could not be said for Oliver, a chocolate lab who lies in wait a few doors up the street at Second Time Around, a consignment shop. A sign in the store informs shoppers that they are under constant video surveillance. Outside, Oliver dozes on the steps.

A wayward shoplifter could bolt out the door with two armloads of merchandise and Oliver wouldn't budge an inch. A guard dog he is not.

A hunting dog he is. And the things Oliver hunts for are ice cream cones from Ben & Jerry's Homemade next door. When an unsuspecting cone-bearing tourist shuffles into Oliver's area of influence, the chocolate lab leaps up from his siesta to scarf it down in a single, satisfying bite.

As a haute couture dog, Oliver prefers to wash his ice cream down with a premium elixir from Starbucks. Regretfully, he has to wait for a sleepy Bostonian to stumble on the sidewalk to spill a grande Frappuccino before he may indulge.

A reporter interviewed Oliver on two occasions and found him to be, well, aloof. According to Jessica, a sales associate at the store, "Oliver's not interested in you - unless you have food."

While he is a big eater, Oliver is not a big producer. Jessica was about to make a sale until Oliver started nosing through the customer's bag in search of a treat. He has done other things to customers' legs which can't be mentioned in a family newspaper.

Not every working dog on Newbury Street works in retail. Rocky, a black 1 1/2-year-old Cockapoo, a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle, is employed by Larry Andersen at Spot, a business that edits TV commercials.

Spot's clients, creative staffers from ad agencies like Hill, Holliday, Cosmopulos; Arnold Worldwide; and Mullen, are all on a first-name basis with Rocky. He could put on a clinic in client service.

When customers walk in the door of Spot at 45 Newbury, Rocky jumps up and down. After the clients sit down to talk shop, Rocky throws himself at their feet.

Whereas dogs employed in the retail sector are tied to their stores, Rocky's job affords him the opportunity to take road trips to Soundtrack, a recording studio on Columbus Avenue, and Brickyard, a visual effects house at the other end of Newbury Street.

His perks don't stop there. Rocky may be the only dog in the neighborhood who commutes by bicycle. He rides from Arlington to the Back Bay harnessed to a special dog bed mounted to the back of Anderson's bike. That way, he conserves his energy for clients.

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