<b>FREE RANGE:</b>  A shop chicken struts its stuff at Island Seed and Feed.

Paul Wellman

FREE RANGE: A shop chicken struts its stuff at Island Seed and Feed.

Santa Barbara’s Shop Pets

Area Businesses That Are Going to the Dogs (and Cats)

This year, Take Your Dog to Work Day falls on Friday, June 26, but many establishments in our seaside town operate as if every day is a good day to have pets in the office. So, for this week’s animal-themed cover story, Santa Barbara Independent photographer Paul Wellman and I went to a handful of shops around Santa Barbara to see the critters who spend their time in myriad settings ​— ​from mechanic garages to garden shops to design studios. Read on to meet some of the dogs, cats, and chickens who call their workplace home.

By Paul Wellman

Mechanic’s Best Friend

Although Brady is a continent away from his breed’s British Isles origin, his instincts run deep. Passersby can see the border collie sitting sentry out front of Figueroa Brake & Alignment (133 W. Figueroa St.; 897-3331), keeping watch over his flock of mechanics. The 10-year-old dog belongs to Hector Palomino (center), who also owns the garage, and has been coming to work regularly since Palomino bought the business six years ago. In addition to mingling with the customers, Brady enjoys a lie-down in the office or, better yet, a walk with one of his human friends.

By Paul Wellman

Poodles in Paradise

Opened in 1986, Paradise Found (17 E. Anapamu St.; 564-3573; strives “to be a positive and healing energy point,” according to its website. In that they have succeeded. Not only does the shop have books and music to calm the most restless spirits, but it also has Tucker (right) and Huxley, two standard poodles who can bring your heart rate down with just a look from their warm, brown eyes. Fortunately, they also like to be petted — especially 5-year-old Tucker, who is also an ARF! therapy dog. Both pooches are rescues, but life is good now with Teresa Taylor, who also owns Paradise Found.

By Paul Wellman

King of the Castle

“He’s a huge Rams fan,” said Tom Ellington, owner of J.J., the Chihuahua-corgi mix who reps the St. Louis football team with his Rams-themed collar. Both Ellington and J.J. spend their weekdays at J7 Surfboards (24 E. Mason St.; 290-4129; — one of them helping customers, the other entertaining them. The nearly decade-old pooch, whom Ellington adopted eight years ago from the Humane Society, has his own bed and his own stuffed teddy bear, which he likes to “cuddle.” “It’s more like Misery,” Ellington laughed. “It’s like, ‘You’re not going anywhere, Bear.’”

By Paul Wellman

Blue-Eyed Shy Guy

Three-year-old Rocket loves his “grandpa” Bill Schoneberger. In fact, he spends much of his time laying under the graphic designer’s desk at Backyard Studio (911 De la Vina St.; 448-9208;, the office he shares with his photographer/videographer son Andrew. Andrew and his wife, Meghan, adopted the red merle Australian shepherd with icy blue eyes from an Aussie rescue when he was a pup. Rocket was born deaf, but Andrew and his family don’t mind; they use American Sign Language to communicate with the whip-smart dog.

By Paul Wellman

Not Ready for the Close-Up

Taro likes to sleep in a box on the counter. That’s where he spends 90 percent of his time, said Terra Sol Garden Center (5320 Overpass Rd.; 964-7811; employee Tony Krock. The black feline was, in fact, in his box when we arrived, but the clicking of the camera’s shutter sent him off into the garden to seek refuge. Although he ran from us like DiCaprio runs from the paparazzi, the reluctant star was eventually snapped hanging out by some Toscano kale. Taro lives full-time at the garden and spends his nights in his own “apartment” that’s kitted out with a cat tree, Fancy Feast, and a window view.

By Paul Wellman

A True Classic

Although German shepherds were originally bred as working dogs, Smokey seems perfectly happy lying down on the job. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy a good game of fetch, though. Smokey whiles away his days at Classic Design (129 N. Milpas St.; 966-9800), the auto body repair shop owned by David Melkonian, who adopted the 8-year-old Smokey when he was just a puppy. His fur has a lovely red hue, his temperament is mellow, and he is friendly to the customers. Smokey is the perfect shop dog.

By Paul Wellman

Canine in the Garden

Nat Waller’s shop Pro Garden Supply (18 N. Milpas St.; 965-4619; not only has all the products green thumbs need to create their dream landscapes; it also has an official greeter — Kaya. Kaya is an 8-year-old brindled boxer/Great Dane mix who spends her days napping and visiting with the customers. She has a stubby tail but compensates for her barely there appendage by wagging her entire back end in an endearing, wiggly walk. She also likes to howl along with Waller, as the two demonstrated with an impressive display of vocalizations. A bit shy at first, Kaya kindly accommodated our request for silly poses.

By Paul Wellman

Cats and Birds Living Together

Nestled in the crook of South Fairview and Highway 101, Island Seed and Feed (29 S. Fairview Ave., Goleta; 967-5262; has been supplying our semirural enclave with garden, farm, and pet products since it opened in 1988. It is also a fun place to shop thanks to the on-site chickens and kitties. Pewter the cat rules the roost, so to speak, roaming the premises and chatting up the customers. The chickens cluck peacefully in their tidy coop, laying eggs and munching on garden compost.

By Paul Wellman

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