Catie, who turned 12 this month, has “worked” at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston since she arrived in the city in 2004. No, it’s not child labor: Catie is a black labrador who flunked guide dog training school (most sources say she just had too much character) and was adopted as the hotel’s Canine Ambassador (yes, that’s an official title), greeting hotel guests in the lobby.
“It’s the best thing when they see her, people start smiling,” says Catie’s companion, concierge Joe Fallon. Catie lives with Joe and comes to work with him each day. “Folks in the surrounding office buildings come over on their breaks to see her, too. It brightens their day, you see it in their faces.”
Nothing says welcome like a waggy tail. The Fairmont Pittsburgh has a lab/boxer mix, named Edie after Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol’s muse; the House of 1833 in Mystic, Conn., has Trixie, a puggle; and a collie named Dakota greets guests at the Cliffside Inn in Newport, R.I. On Nantucket, a yellow labrador named Sherwood has worked the front desk at the Cottages & Lofts at the Boat Basin for seven years.
“He operates a no-judgment zone where everyone who comes by is treated with the same tail wagging,” says general manager of the Boat Basin Jim Storey. “When we have a dog guest that barks too much, we bring Sherwood by for a visit and, like magic, the barking goes away. We have a family from England that won’t book unless they’re assured Sherwood will be there.”
That’s the kicker: Dog years go by much too quickly. The 10-year-old Sherwood is now “training” Ellie, a 1-year-old golden retriever, and Catie’s protegee is 3-year-old black lab Carly, a recent adoptee from the Animal Rescue League’s Boston Shelter.
Sherwood and Catie are both still in good health, but reaching their slower years.
“Catie naps a lot more now. I can sense when she’s not up for it and I won’t bring her in,” says Fallon. “Sometimes she wants some peace and quiet.”
“When Paul Newman and his wife would stay, Catie and I would go up to their suite,” says Fallon. “He’d bring samples of recipes they were trying out for Newman’s Own. Two Oscar winners right there, feeding Catie. I knew I was only there because of her. My title should be Catie’s Personal Assistant. I know my place.”