Four dogs walk into a bookstore on a Tuesday afternoon.
They make their way into the coffee shop in the Barnes & Noble at Mayfaire Town Center. I’m sitting at a table by the back wall, and I immediately close my laptop, my hand inching toward my phone.
This has to be some sort of sign from the universe: two of my favorite things – dogs and books – in one place all of a sudden during the workday.
The assistance dogs and their handlers settle at some tables in the corner, and I mosey on over to ask whether I can take a picture of them to send to my husband. A good 25% or more of our spousal texts are pictures of dogs, mainly our dog, a dust mop-terrier mix who could be an assistance dog if the assistance you need is of the LMAO variety at his acts of questionable intelligence.
Three of these bookstore dogs are in training, including a yellow Lab named Timber (pictured above)
. I know this because I’ve now interrupted the handlers’ conversations to get all the details so I can include them in this WilmingtonBiz Magazine real estate issue because it all relates. (Wait one sec: I have to take a break here to rub the belly of our office dog, Bodie, also a yellow Lab, who has flipped over on his back, and we all know what that means.)
During my dog sighting at Barnes & Noble, I find out more about the assistance dogs from Seth Eure, program manager at paws4people, who explains that this appearance in a public place helps with training.
As for the reason behind my presence in the Barnes & Noble coffee shop, I’m using the technique of finding a different setting, outside of our office near Mayfaire, to jumpstart some writing. When the pandemic sent office workers home three years ago, it felt safer to work remotely and was OK for a little while, but I need the office mindset that comes with actually getting real clothes on (aka not pajamas/loose-fitting blobs of cloth) and going there. At the same time, occasionally leaving the office to work in a coffee shop or at the Northeast Branch of the New Hanover County Public Library (what a surprise, she’s a library nerd too) was a useful focusing tool for me before COVID-19 and remains a tactic.
On the dog-bookstore day, I used it to finish my office space story (page 24), in which I share insight from office owners and brokers about how office space in Wilmington seems to be in better shape than in larger cities in North Carolina and the U.S. I know a lot of people are still working from home, but I wouldn’t have met Timber and his pals, or just helped Bodie with his need for a belly rub, if it weren’t for a culture of flexibility that also incorporates office space.