On a chilly morning in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Mimi and Coco trot off to work at Amy’s Hair Salon: two Maltese dogs in hand-knit sweaters. They are Amy’s dogs. But for no extra charge, they will join the customer in the styling chair.
Uptown in the garment district, a costume jewelry firm has six rabbits hopping around its headquarters — office pets that double as unofficial members of the marketing team.
In the cluttered office of a parking garage on Claver Place in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the phone rings. Except it’s not the phone. It’s an African gray parrot named Blacks. He makes small talk at a blue-and-gold macaw named Lola and anyone else in earshot, including the garage’s resident mutt.
A lot of animals have jobs in New York City these days: therapy dogs at nursing homes, four-legged explosives detectors nosing your luggage at the airport, cats on mouse patrol at the corner bodega, not to mention holdovers like the carriage horses of Central Park.
But there are countless others whose duties are less formal and more about making the workplace a nicer place to hang out.
At Amy’s Hair Salon, where a complex procedure like hair straightening can take hours, petting a dog seems to make the time vanish. “They play with the dog, they pat the dog, so it’s not boring,” the owner, Amy Ooi, said. (The dogs’ white coats also make them perfect hair-dye models, because their fur does not have to be bleached first to make the color show up. Lately, Coco has pink, blue and purple stripes on her ears and Mimi has purple-pink stripes.)
One recent Friday afternoon, Michi Yoshimuri, a music therapist, came in for highlights. Ms. Ooi lifted Coco onto Ms. Yoshimuri’s lap. She stroked Coco’s tail contentedly. Coco’s sister Mimi gave a few jealous yips. “You want Mimi, too?” Ms. Ooi asked. Ms. Yoshimuri did. “That cute face!” Ms. Yoshimuri cooed. “It’s healing just to watch them.”
Ms. Ooi wrapped Ms. Yoshimuri’s new highlights in foil. Ms. Yoshimuri stroked Mimi’s ear until the little dog fell asleep.
Some years ago,…