Bring your pet to work

PHOTO: Bring your pet to work

Call them the resident mascots. Shops and business owners here are making their beloved pets a part of their retail or work space.

A floral boutique, a bookstore and a web consultancy firm are among places here where you might be greeted by a cat lazing on a table top, or given a regulatory sniff by a curious dog.

Web consultancy Digital Boomerang’s founder Charlotte Ong, 38, takes her five-year-old corgi, Sir Rupert, to her office in a two-storey shophouse in Telok Blangah.

He is there from weekday mornings and goes home with her at night.

Says Ms Ong, who adopted Sir Rupert more than a year ago: “He lightens up the mood. We have good and bad days. On tough days, he is really comforting to have around.”

At first, Ms Tan Yan Ling, 24, a user experience consultant at Digital Boomerang, was apprehensive about having a dog in the office when she started working there more than a month ago.

She has since warmed up to Sir Rupert.

She says: “I never grew up around pets – except fish and tapoles. But he is cute dog, I like him.”

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Where: Web consultancy company Digital Boomerang in Telok Blangah

Who: Ms Charlotte Ong, 38, the company's founder

What: When Ms Ong decided that she was going to take Sir Rupert (above) to the office on weekdays, she called for a meeting with her 14 employees.

They drew up a list of house rules for having a dog around the two-storey shophouse where the Web consultancy is located.

Besides deciding how the five-year-old male corgi should be disciplined - he is put in his cage when he misbehaves - they also agreed to this: "We are not allowed to comment on his height unless favourably."

Sir Rupert, who is about 30cm tall, spends weekday evenings and weekends at home.

He is happiest on Mondays when he returns to the office, says Ms Ong.

When clients who are afraid of dogs visit the office, he is put in his cage.

Those who love dogs are more than welcome to pick him up for a cuddle.

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Where: Floral boutique One Olive in Tiong Bahru

Who: Ms Amy Yap (left), 41, and Niki Yapp (far left), 42, the owners of One Olive

What: Passers-by often stop to stare at the white-and-gray kitten sitting on a turf-covered pouf, surrounded by flowers, in the shop's window display. The boutique is located in a one-storey building in a carparkin Tiong Bahru.

The seven-month-old kitten was named after the day of the week her two owners adopted her. She was found perched precariously on the 28th-floor ledge of an Ang Mo Kio HDB flat, by a friend of theirs. Ms Yap says: "People come in just to look at her. They call her sweet and pretty."

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Where: Indie books and craft store Cat Socrates in Bras Basah Complex

Who: Ms Hellen Jiang (above), 34, the store's founder

What: Chestnut is often mistaken for Ms Jiang's previous cat, Socrates, the store's namesake, which belonged to her husband. Socrates died six months ago in Shanghai where it lived with Ms Jiang's in-laws, after Ms Jiang moved here from China eight years ago. It was then about four years old.

This new attention-seeking kitty, which purrs loudly when it wants to be stroked, was adopted six months ago from the Cat Welfare Society. It was named Chestnut because of the colour of its fur.

If you cannot spot him around the store, he may be hiding in his favourite spot - on top of the shop's fridge - where he goes when he does not want to be disturbed.

Ms Jiang says: "His reaction to strangers is very good - people can touch him. He is very calm and quite relaxed."

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Where: Multi-disciplinary creative agency NiCE in Dhoby Ghaut

Who: Mr Davide Nicosia (right), 46, founder and chief executive of NiCE

What: The male border collie, three, behaves like an employee of the creative agency. His owner usually takes him there on weekdays where the dog stays from about 8am to 6pm.

"The biggest problem having him around is that he won't let us play table-tennis in the office, because he runs around the table barking and trying to get the ball," jokes Mr Nicosia.

Rio is most commonly seen wandering around the office with a ball in his mouth, looking for someone to play catch with. He also keeps track of everyone who comes and goes and is often the first to greet a visitor to the creative agency.

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Where: Independent bookstore Books Actually in Tiong Bahru

Who: Mr Kenny Leck (above), 35, the store's founder

What: Cake (above), the six-year-old male cat, is a feisty one. He dislikes being touched by strangers and allows only Mr Leck to do so. Pico, however, three years old and female, loves to lie in the middle of the store begging for a tummy rub.

Mr Leck says: "They walk through my selection of glassware and plates sometimes and give me a heart attack. But nothing has been broken so far."

They also sit motionless on top of books and get mistaken for "fake cats". Customers get a shock when they finally decide to slink away.

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Where: Recording studio Snakeweed Studios in Bedok

Who: Mr Leonard Soosay, in his 40s, founder of the studio

What: Three tabby cats - sisters, rescued by Mr Soosay near his studio on Election Day two years ago. He says: "A man meant to kill them. He had put two in a sack and was strangling one of them. I punched him, took the kittens and ran."

Mr Soosay named Misseah (above left, with one of the studio's clients) after National Solidarity Party's election candidate at the time, Ms Nicole Seah, and Misstin (above right) after People's Action Party Member of Parliament, Ms Tin Pei Ling.

He called the last one Missfit because she has a high-pitched mew that is different from the other two. The cats live full time on the fourth floor of an industrial building in Bedok where Snakeweed Studios is located.

The studio's clients agree that Missfit is the most "sayang" (Malay for "dearest"), Misstin is the most "manja" (Malay for "pampered") and Misseah is the prettiest.

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