Editors note: It’s no secret there are hard working dogs and cats. But while some are tending to traditional animal jobs, like herding cattle or mousing in barns, others are going to work with their owners and are performing “people” jobs at local stores, offices or job sites, like these two Havanese dogs who offer their special brand of camaraderie as assistants to the rector’s assistant at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
Names and occupation: Harold is 9 1/2-years-old and has been at Jane Volkema’s side at work and at home since he was a pup in Washington, DC. Mable, who is just 3 1/2, knew exactly what she was doing when, as a tiny pup herself, she picked Harold out to be her big brother and buddy. She joined the family without misgivings and proved three isn’t a crowd at work or at home.
A truly vivacious young lady, Mable has probably never met a stranger and is eager to be the first to greet visitors to the rector’s office. She’s also known as the “Fetch Queen” and never tires of playing her favorite game with church visitors.
On the other hand, Harold, while equally friendly, is more sophisticated in his approach. Harold’s debonair personality is understandable when visitors learn he grew up in the nation’s capital where he was quite the doggie about town and where his photo was frequently featured on the society pages of the Washington Post. In fact, when it was learned Harold was moving to Ardmore, the Post ran a fond adieu story telling readers the popular guy was leaving town.
Special talents: Harold is a certified therapy dog and worked in that field, as well as assisting Volkema in her job as a rector’s assistant, while in Washington, D.C. Because of his prior career, Harold is bilingual, he understands English and Dutch. Not to be outdone in the language department, Mable also has acquired some bilingual talents, but her Dutch is more limited. One sentence she has no trouble understanding — “Squirrels in the bird feeder.”
While on the job at St. Philip’s the twosome’s desire to be true blue companions can be a wonderful asset, even if it’s for a brief time.
“They’re a great comfort to people who come in looking for assistance, are grieving or seeking pastoral care,” Volkema explained. “They can have a very calming effect.”
The pair has charmed so many visitors they have developed a fan base who often drop by just to visit with Harold and Mable.
Laughing, Volkema explains sometimes the fan club threatens to overrun the office.
“There are times when I have had to kick people out of the office,” she said.
What makes Harold and Mable perfect for their people jobs? Volkema says along with their great personalities, silky fur and expressive eyes, the pair of Havanese assistants are hypoallergenic and don’t shed. All bonuses when working in an office setting.
Although Harold did attend Mass occasionally in Washington, D.C., neither he nor Mable have actually attended indoor services in Ardmore. However, the twosome, along with Francis, St. Mary’s pet who works, have helped conduct the annual joint church Blessings of the Animals.
It’s no wonder these two are perfect for their people jobs because their breed is known as surprisingly energetic and excel at dog sports and canine careers from circus performers to assisting the handicapped.
And when it’s time for some R&R? Harold and Mable like to relax with a shopping cart ride through Lowe’s.