Harford Magazine - Page 28 - Groomed for Work (2)

Harford Magazine
- Page 28
Groomed for Work (2)

By KAthi sANtorA | For harford magazine


Sure, there are scientific studies that show the health benefits of having pets at work. (Who doesn’t feel the stress seep out of them at petting and playing with a dog or cat?) For these Harford County business owners, who talk about the camaraderie and joy that their animals bring to their offices, every day is take your pet to work day.



It’s Payday, Forest Hill


On workdays, Mia, a 4 1/2-pound Yorkshire terrier, is so excited about going to the office that she’ll often jump into her carrier long before it’s time to leave home, say It’s Payday owners Kathy and George Heidelmaier.


Once they arrive at the payroll management company that the couple founded in 2008, Mia starts her work day: “As our employees get to work and open the door, she tears down the hall, rolls over and waits for a belly rub,” Kathy says.


Mia spends her days greeting customers, sleeping and sitting on a chair in the breakroom while the staff eat lunch.


The Heidelmaiers are active in several local nonprofits, including the Humane Society of Harford County. Recently, Mia has stepped up to play Toto in the “Wizard of Oz”- themed fundraiser for Harford Family House.


For the Heidelmaiers, Mia creates a congenial business atmosphere for customers and employees.


“It just helps morale,” George says. “Sometimes you are having a bad day and something is going wrong. It’s always nice to take five minutes and play ball with a dog.”



John Carroll High School, Bel Air


Inspired by a professional workshop on pet therapy, John Carroll High School counselor Jennifer Behler thought of her dog, Max, a gentle, people-loving Australian shepherd/Lab mix who wags his tail even during veterinarian visits.


“I have had dogs my entire life, and I know what they have done for me as far as boosting my mood and bringing unconditional love,” Behler says.


With the blessing of the school’s administration, Behler and Max became certified as a therapy team at Paws for People, a nonprofit that trains such teams around the Mid- Atlantic region.


Max joins Behler at school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to provide comfort and companionship. Behler and Max work together with students and staff who want to spend time with him. He is usually in Behler’s office and a sign on her door lets students know if Max is on duty. She always escorts him on a leash in other parts of the school and grounds.


Junior Kiana Miller stops by often: “Just seeing his cute little face always makes me happy, no matter what. When I am talking to Mrs. Behler, he’ll come up and lick my face. That warms my heart and I can just breathe. Everything’s going to be fine. Max is here.”