You'd better believe Kobe has had a hand, or paw, in selling eyeglasses, even though he wears a fur coat and walks on four legs.

The slick black kitty with a John Wayne saunter also chases dogs out of Uptown Optical, and once, the feline cornered a petrified boxer in an elevator.

Mary Shull, owner of the downtown eyeglasses shop, rescued Kobe from Missoula County Animal Control through PetSmart, and he's been a fixture in the store for 12 years. Indeed, Kobe lives in the shop 24 hours a day, and he has since almost the beginning, when he protested the work commute.

"He didn't travel well. He howled like a wolf. He did not want to be in the car," Shull said.

So he lounges on the red retro couch by day, heading to the front door to greet customers and delivery workers at the bell, and beguiling even the dog people shopping for vintage or modern frames. He has fans, for sure.

"Kobe has just grown with me. He's an important part of the store," Shull said.

By night, the friendly prince tucks himself into a puffy cat bed in the back of the store at 111 N. Higgins Ave.

Kobe can sleep soundly knowing his personality is one-of-a-kind, and he's one of many pets brightening businesses in Missoula.


At Warm Springs Productions, a team of pups fuels the creation of television shows for the History Channel and, of course, Animal Planet, and a visitor is just as likely to spot a water bowl or a wagging tail in the open work space as a pair of headphones or a stapler.

Last week, Marianne Wilkinson walked into the equipment room where Mike Schweizer oversees cameras and audio gear and other production thingamabobs. Schweizer works the room with help from Lucy, a smiling copper pooch, and Henry, who responds to the command "Go to work" by hopping into Schweizer's office seat.

Wilkinson, a supervising producer, entered the room with a mission, and it had nothing to do with reserving cameras, and everything to do with Lucy and Henry. In fact, she's a regular in the equipment room.

"I like to stop in and get a little doggy love," Wilkinson said.

Once perched in his boss's seat, Henry wasn't budging. He leaned into the chair back with just the tip of his black tail wiggling, possibly a look at happiness in perpetual motion.

The production company employs roughly 100 people, including freelancers, and Chris Richardson said there's no rocket science behind the dog-friendly workplace at 820 W. Spruce St.

It's just one of a couple of benefits he offers that seems fitting for a business anchored in Missoula.

"I like dogs. It's pretty basic," Richardson said. "Free beer. Free dogs. We give away a puppy every week."

Just a quip, in case your hopes jumped, but they do give away at least pup pictures of sorts.

In the conference room, the mellow beast Schuck hung out with staff, clamoring into a conference room seat at the request of a biped. Schuck "The Sheriff" has nabbed the award for office dog of the year, and it's easy to see why.

He's large.

He's in charge.

And he wears a bright bandanna, maybe orange, definitely contributing to the handsome factor.


Chris Williams, supervising producer, said Schuck has hung out on shoots, resting out of the way in the background, cool as a hairless chihuahua in the Chilean Andes. Freelancers drop into the office from New York and California, and Williams recognizes the ones from the West Coast.

"You can usually tell if someone is from California 'cause they'll be taking selfies with all the dogs," Williams said.

Alfredo the pooch is from California, too, one of the "California Littles" the Human Society of Western Montana brought to Missoula. "Alfie" keeps a home base under Shande Wiest's desk with a bed, crate and communal water bowl.

Sometimes, the dogs at Warm Springs walk over to Wiest's work station and stare at her filing cabinet. She keeps treats inside, and she dispenses them generously.

The largest section of the company handbook deals with dogs in the office, Weist said. They're allowed on the concrete floors, but not upstairs where it's carpeted; they need to have current shots; and owners need to pick up after them.

One you might not forget twice?

"No squeaky toys."

Tuna Metesh, a field equipment audio manager, may have experienced the only human-canine conflict at Warm Springs, but he came out a survivor.

"Charlie barked at me once."

Charlie did not make an appearance last week for media guests, but Keeva donned a sombrero in the walkway, and Heidi snuggled into the most luxurious dog bed you've ever seen, possibly a people bed in a size small. 

Pup Paradise Productions, they could have called it.


Grover works down an alley off 316 N. Higgins Ave., a handsome apricot standard poodle without the foo-foo cut.

He's qualified for the gig at Hellgate Cyclery, being great with kids and respectful of the store's boundaries, said co-owner Kevin Downey.

"In the summer, we keep the doors open. He knows not to run away," Downey said.

Downey pulls Grover to work in a bicycle buggy, and it took some coaxing to teach the dog to be a passenger. The pooch loves Downey's girlfriend, Taylore, and Downey figures she had something to do with the dog's willingness to hop in the coach.

"If he wanted to get home to see Taylore, he needed to get in that sucker," Downey said.

He had a little bit of help from ground beef, too.

Every once in a while, a customer walks in the door who is afraid of dogs, and every now and then, a child tries to ride Grover like a pony.

He takes it all in stride.

"I couldn't ask for a better shop dog," Downey said.


At Gallery 709 inside Montana Art and Framing, Luna the perfectly coiffed bichon frise sells her own line of cards in a bin under the acclaimed works of George Gogas and Nancy Erickson.

Yes, the snow white pup wears shades in at least one.

"She adds life and a personality," said Don Mundt, artist and gallery owner at 709 Ronan St. "She greets everybody."

Mind you, if you're intent on thieving at the gallery, beware that Luna the greeter doubles as a bouncer. Last week, she slipped on a black vest with the word "security" emblazoned across the back, but word on the street is she'll look the other way for a piece of a pig's ear.

Artist Kendahl Jan Jubb brought Luna just such a snack once and sealed her own fate as favorite customer.

Another customer left her purse open and unattended in the gallery, and Luna ferreted out the dog treats tucked away.

"She's kind of a larcenist that way," Mundt said.

You'd never guess it from her cheerful demeanor, and he has another nickname for her, besides: "World's greatest shop dog."