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Gnarly Miller sure is going places.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2013 4 years ago

Work like a dog

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Who doesn’t want an employee who works like a dog?

You know the type: He or she is early to work, leaves late, always does their best and does it all without complaining.

But several Longboat Key employees who work like dogs are, in fact, dogs.

June 21 is the 15th annual “Take Your Dog to Work Day,” an online campaign created by Pet Sitters International in 1999 to encourage pet adoption.

In honor of the day, the Longboat Observer interviewed three dogged workers, along with a semiretired dog (and their owners) to find out what the workplace is like for those loyal employees who work their tails off every day.

Gnarly Miller sure is going places.

He rides around the Longbeach Village in a golf cart greeting people and dogs. He paddleboards, although he doesn’t doggy paddle; he opts instead to let his mom, Lucy Miller, do the paddling. And of course, as an employee of Cannons Marina, he loves to be out on a boat.

Gnarly, a goldendoodle, turned 2 June 11 and has been working at the family-owned marina since he was just a couple months old. You can find him sitting near David Miller’s desk at least three days a week.

The Millers’ old dog, Sirius, a golden retriever, who died in 2011, was also a dogged worker at Cannons for at least 12 years.

David Miller said Gnarly is great for public relations. He gets along with anyone — dogs and kids —and he’s even been known to get women, who are dressed in expensive clothing, to get down on the floor and roll around with him.

“People have come in just to see him ever since he was a little puppy,” David Miller said.

Age: 2
Owners: David and Lucy Miller
Employer: Cannons Marina
On the job since: 2011

Chloe Cheshker is that doggie in the window of Secur-All Insurance.

Sometimes, people pass by the agency on their way to bank at SunTrust across the hall or visit one of the other offices in the building. Then, they notice Chloe in the window and stop by to pet the 13-year-old toy poodle. That gives staffers the chance to ask the visitor if they have any insurance needs.

She has a nameplate in her bed that lists her title as “public relations.” But that’s not her only role.

“She’s the greeter,” said associate Maggie Plasencia.

“She’s the top seller,” said associate Patti Colby.

Chloe made a midlife transition to the insurance business five years ago. She worked for a year or two at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center, when her mom, Sandra Ceshker, was court coordinator.

She then spent several years as a stay-at-home dog, before returning to the workforce when George and Sandra Ceshker opened the Longboat Key Secur-All branch.

“She’s just so good with our clients,” Sandra Ceshker said. “She has excellent people skills.”

But beyond her public relation skills, this dog knows how to dress for success. Chloe has at least 40 outfits — including a tankini for when she’s feeling like a hot dog.

But don’t think this dog is spoiled. She earns those outfits with 50-hour workweeks that often don’t include lunch hours. Still, sometimes a dog needs a break.

“I have to make a sign that says she’s on vacation because people get worried about her,” said Colby, of the 13-year-old dog.

Age: 13
Owners: George and Sandra Ceshker
Employer: Secur-All Insurance
On the job since: 2008

Jake Reilly was originally hired as a goose chaser.

After his owner, John Reilly, interviewed for the position of director of agronomy at the Longboat Key Club and Resort four years ago, it became a running joke that he had been hired so long as Jake would chase away the geese.

Today, the black Labrador retriever is more focused on other responsibilities.

He gets to work at 5 a.m. each morning and runs the courses.

“He has that rock-star status with members,” Reilly said. “Everyone comes up and says hello.”

He also makes sure his coworkers drive their golf carts at the right speed by coming along for the ride.

“Without any other moving objects in the cart, he keeps you grounded so you’re not going too fast,” Reilly said.

Before Jake became a golf-course dog, Reilly owned another black Lab named Jake who worked alongside him at the Legends Golf & Country Club in Clermont. Jake ran away, and Reilly put up advertisements in an effort to find the missing dog. One person called Reilly, thinking he had found the missing dog. When Reilly met the dog, he knew right away it wasn’t his dog, but he agreed to take him anyway, thinking he’d never find the original Jake.

He named the new dog Jake and put him to work on the course.

Years later, Reilly saw a story in a trade publication about a black Lab at the Eaglebrooke Golf Course in Lakeland who worked the golf course. The dog turned out to be the original Jake living under a new name, Rosco, while doing the job he was meant to do: work the golf course.

The second Jake, however, has proven himself as top dog on the course. A golf course dog has to follow certain protocols: He can’t demand attention from golfers or take care of certain business just anywhere.

“He knows his role,” Reilly said. “He’s just there to be your partner in crime but he definitely paces you.”

Age: 9
Owner: John Reilly
Employer: Longboat Key Cub & Resort
On the job since: 2009

Racquet Straff stays active in retirement: He walks 5 miles and goes to the tennis courts every day.

On Election Day, he made an appearance at Longboat Key Town Hall, where he campaigned for Commissioner Phill Younger.

But here’s how Racquet is different from your typical retiree:

He’s just 4 years old, or 28 in dog years.

Racquet retired two years ago at age 2 in 2011, after his owners, Larry and Roberta Straff, closed their TRL Enterprises, a wholesale women’s clothing business, in Avenue of the Flowers.

“Racquet was the actual greeter,” Roberta Straff said. “People just loved him and he loved them. He’s just a loving, social dog. He would have been a great salesman.”

The cockapoo had some big paws to fill four years ago when he started on the job four years ago. The Straffs’ cocker spaniel, Tennis, died at 18 in 2009 and went to work every day and had licks and kisses for everyone.

Racquet easily embraced the role and worked for two years.

Now, in retirement, he’s living the good life and still sees many old customers during his daily walks.

Age: 4
Owners: Larry and Roberta Straff
Employer: Retired from TRL Enterprises
Retired since: 2011


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