JONESBORO — Roger Swint and his wife Kathy, owners of Swint’s Feed and Garden Supply, in Jonesboro have five rather unusual employees — Josie, Kountry, Darcy, Lizzy and Roxie.
What’s unusual? They are all dogs.
“They are all just so loving,” said Kathy.
For the Swints, bringing their dogs to work is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s something that has become a family tradition. For years, they have toted their furry canines to their business every day.
“They are a part of the family and it gives us time to spend nine hours a day with them,” said Roger. “It’s nice because they don’t have to be stuck in a cage all day.”
Four of the five cuddly canines — all rescue dogs — belong to the Swints.
Darcy is a brown Labrador retriever, Roxie a black and white Boston terrier, Josie a brown and white boxer mix, and Lizzy is a black Labrador retriever. Each dog belongs to a member in the Swint family. Darcy spends her time with their son, Adam, 20. Josie belongs to their daughter, Olivia, 22, and Lizzy belongs to their 16-year-old son, Eric. Roxie, is Kathy’s “baby,” who she refers to as the “Diva.” Of all the Swint dogs, Roxie has been with the family the longest, three years — so long she has her own wardrobe.
Swint employee Billy Powers is the proud owner of Kountry, a chocolate Labrador retriever. Powers said he adopted Kountry on July 4, a day after he put Lizzie, his chocolate Labrador retriever of 16 years — to sleep.
“We connected instantly,” said Powers. “The thing about [Labrador retrievers] is that they don’t need a lot of attention. They just want to be with you.” Kountry is the only male of the bunch. Powers said Kountry’s personality is playful. He said Kountry likes to hop on his lap while he’s driving his black corvette. Kountry puts his paws on the wheel and sticks his head out the window to feel the wind blow in his face.
“Sometimes I think he feels he’s the one doing all the driving,” said Powers.
“All the dogs get along great,” said Kathy. “They fight and play just like brother and sister.”
Aside from being able to spend quality time with their pets at work, for the Swints and Powers, another perk of having their animals around is that it provides a way to relieve stress in the workplace.
“I find pet therapy to be very useful. It’s soothing.” said Kathy. “Dogs are loyal and they treat you like a best friend.”
“You can be having the worst day of your life and having a dog around just makes things all better,” he said. “Their love is unconditional.”
Kathy said she recently had surgery and had to stay home for several weeks to recover. She said if it were not for her dogs, her Boston terrier in particular, she would not have made it through.
“Roxie really kept me sane,” she said. According to Kathy, Roxie has a feisty personality and is more fond of children than adults.
“All of our dogs love children. I can’t really say any of our dogs has a specific personality. But what I can say is that they are all loving [animals].” She added Boston terriers have usually been the signature dog for the Swint family, from childhood to adulthood.
“We have had several throughout the years,” said Kathy.
Roger said having their dogs around has not hurt their business one bit. In fact, he said, customers have grown fond of them.
“We get people coming in here all the time, asking for them,” said Roger. “The kids especially like to come into the store and love on them.”
Overall, the Swints’ sentiment about pets in the workplace is that dogs just tend to add a softer element to the environment and they just make people happy.