Shopdogs of Tribeca

Sometimes that doggie in the window isn’t for sale…. Asha Agnish photographed the dogs—and one cat—who spend their days “working” at Tribeca businesses. “As the owner of several cats who refuse to pose for the camera or obey even the simplest of commands, I expected photographing dogs to be easy,” she reports. “After all, they sit and stay on command, right? Yes, but not for long—especially not for a stranger running around with a flashing camera while the owner brandishes treats.” Agnish says the shoots were more challenging than she expected, but also incredibly fun and collaborative. “And wouldn’t you know it? The most relaxed, cooperative subject of all was Marley the cat.”

shopdogs-a-uno-by-asha-agnishA UNO
Shopdog: Niki
Breed: Shih Tzu
Owner/parent/boss: A Uno owner Ann Benedetto
What’s his workday like? “Niki has been the meet-and-greet member of the team for five years—his entire life. His responsibilities are to amuse the kids, tolerate the dogs of customers, and to look cute while peering out of the front door—and he excels at all his duties. He loves being playful, getting treats, and having his belly rubbed, and he’s quick to lick babies (in fact he has an alias, Licky Niki). His special talent is he can curl up in a basket or box regardless how small it is and take a nap there. We have photos to prove it!”
Anything else we should know? “Our fashions give our shop its personality but Niki gives it its heart.”


Shopdog: Sugar Ray
Breed: Shih Tzu
Owners/parents/bosses: Abhaya owners Howard Ellins and Jocelyn Serfaty
What’s her workday like? “Sugar Ray has been coming to the shop since it first opened six years ago. She works every day at the shop, lounging and looking regal. She is very popular and has many neighborhood canine friends, many of whom come by regularly to visit and hang out.”
Anything else we should know? “When it rains or snows she prefers to stay at home so as not to ruin her coif.”


Shopdog: Eleanor Rigby
Breed: Yorkshire Terrier
Owner/parent/boss: Regional manager Minnie Beideman
What’s her workday like? “Ellie takes the bus in from New Jersey and then the subway. She spends the first part of the morning trying to get the girls to play with her—she’ll put her tennis ball right on their feet. She’s very smart. You can ask her if she wants water or Flossies and she’ll respond positively or negatively. She works security, yelling at dogs that shoplift. (A lot of people just don’t pay attention to their animals.) She models things for customers looking for a size comparison. She knows all of our names. We can ask her where someone is and she’ll show us.”
Anything else we should know? “Her boyfriend is a Papillion named Toby,” says Ellie’s co-worker, Gillie. “He started as a customer. He comes over and they play a lot. Sometimes they spend entire days together. At our old location on West Broadway, there’s a painting on the window of Fred (our old shopcat), Toby, and Ellie playing in the snow. Someone who used to work here made it. She also did paintings of Ellie and Toby getting married. (Also, Ellie is Miss November in the 2010 Pinups for Pups calendar. The proceeds go to rescue organizations around the country.)”


Shopcat: Marley
Breed: Domestic shorthair
Owner/parent/boss: Dr. Mary Xanthos
What’s her workday like? “Marley, who has been with Reade Street Animal Hospital since October 21, arrives at work at 8 a.m., when she greets all of the day’s incoming surgical patients. Then she puts on her nurse cap and goes from kennel to kennel, checking on patients. At lunchtime, she’s on pigeon patrol, watching the birds outside the hospital’s front windows. On her breaks, she enjoys attacking her catnip mouse. Marley also doubles as our assistant receptionist, helping to check customers out, and she is always available for kisses and head scratches.”
Anything else we should know? “Marley was at the Center for Animal Care and Control, in the New York City shelter system, scheduled to be put to sleep in an hour when we received a frantic call from animal rescue to see if we could adopt her. The CACC believed Marley wasn’t fit for adoption, but with loving care she has blossomed into a wonderful companion—not only to us, but to our clients and patients as well. (She is also special in  that she’s a polydactyl cat, which means she has an extra toe on each paw.)”


Shopdog: Baby Bear
Breed: Terrier/Chihuahua mix
Owner/parent/boss: Store manager Keith Crowe
What’s his workday like? “He comes in on Metro-North with me on Tuesdays (from upstate) and sleeps 80 percent of the time he’s in the showroom. He has a pretty good sense of time, and about 2:45 p.m. he sits in the green chair, waiting for our 12-year-old upstairs neighbor, Mei, who comes to walk him when she’s out of school. Then he takes the subway to go to my apartment. He also comes to work on Fridays because we leave directly from the store to go back upstate. He likes all the customers, except  the mailman, Tyrone. But Tyrone admitted he doesn’t like dogs, so it’s equal.”
Anything else we should know? “When my partner, Brent, and I got Baby Bear at the pound in Oregon, he had a been a stray—he didn’t have much fur left and he had bad allergies, and he was on antibiotics almost two months before his fur came back. He looked just like a little bear cub all shriveled up with no fur, so that’s where his name came from.”


Shopdog: Shea
Breed: Pit bull
Owner/parent/boss: Spot founder Dan Rubenstein
What’s her workday like? “Sitting at the front desk and greeting customers, both two-legged and four-legged. Taking a treat from just about anyone she can. When she is seated on the chair at the front desk, some people in a fog have actually started talking to her as if she were a person—not realizing that she was a dog. She has been asked to check out dogs and ring up bags of food.”
Anything else we should know? “She dispels all the myths that you can’t rehabilitate dogs that have been fought. It can be done. It just takes the right balance of love, leadership, respect, and understanding.”


Shopdog: Fred
Breed: Half-Boston Terrier, half-Shitzu
Owner/parent/boss: Steven Amedee
What’s his workday like? “Our commute is a walk down Hudson from West 10th. Fred happily greets everyone who walks in the store—sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly, almost always with the mat that he sleeps on in his mouth, dragged across the floor, begging for it to be pulled on so he can engage in his favorite game, tug of war. He has visitors almost daily who come by to say hello, and he’s always willing to make a new friend, especially if they have treats.”
Anything else we should know? “Fred has been featured in Julie Cameron’s book Underdog, A Celebration of Mutts and on the website for Righteous Dogfood (a homemade organic dog food company founded in Tribeca by Miya Gowdy on Harrison Street). He’s often mistaken for a Gremlin; I can’t count the number of times people have warned me not to feed him after midnight or get him wet.”

Shopdog: Christopher
Breed: Havanese
Owners/parents/bosses: TAMA Gallery owners Craig Scharlin and Lilia Villanueva
What’s his workday like? “He gets up with us at 8 a.m. or so, lazes around, and pretends every day is a weekend so that he doesn’t have to hurry up, eat breakfast, wash his face and paws, and put on his collar (or jacket in winter). We say, ‘Let’s go,’ and he rushes out the door and leads us to the subway. He gets in his bag at the station, hops out of the bag at the Franklin (or Chambers) Street station, and sniffs his way to TAMA Gallery. He cozies up in his favorite spots either upstairs or downstairs, whines when he’s hungry, and greets visitors with an excited bark because he thinks it’s someone who’ll play with him. He gets walked in the neighborhood at least three times during the day, and he plays with any dogs who enter the gallery, but lately that hasn’t happened so he has to wait until he’s outside. On a nice day, he gets a walk in the promenade in Battery Park.”
Anything else we should know? “One or two customers were terrified of his barking and refused to enter until I picked him up. But 99.9 percent of customers are dog lovers and think Christopher is the sweetest and softest dog! (Also, he was born in Budapest and came to our household via Parrots & Pups in West Village.”)

More Tribeca Citizen photo essays:
“Working It on Staple Street” by Chris Zedano
“Snow Day” by Asha Agnish
“Writing on the Wall” by Asha Agnish
“Writing on the Wall: Part 2” by Asha Agnish

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  1. Fred!! We love Fred!!!

  2. Hands down Fred is the cutest!

  3. Freddy is STILL the cutest of the bunch! Loved the picture! Let’s play ball!!!!

  4. We love you, Freddy, oh yes, we do!

  5. Marley and Dr. Xanthos are a match made in heaven. They both wear many hats and treat both 2 legged and 4 legged animals with the utmost personal care.

  6. Baby Bear is the bomb.

  7. I think Marley is pretty cute and seems to have a strong work ethic, coupled with an appreciation for relaxation. A fine combination. Too bad that the “shelters” are filled with animals just like him.

  8. yea for Marley! those polydactyls need jobs to keep busy; they have a reputation for being extra smart and social, along with the extra toes