You step off your bike and slide your gloves off. While you reach for your helmet strap, a dog waddles up to you. You reach down, give the pooch a couple of strokes, and remove your helmet. You start walking to the shop door and are escorted by your new four-legged friend. The dog walks you up to the counter where you speak with the shop manager about the work that you have scheduled for your machine. You hand the keys over and the dog exits with the shop manager to the shop.
The idea of having a shop dog is nothing new. I’ve seen dogs around mechanic shops since I can remember. To be fair, we didn’t bring the family vehicles to corporate owned, chain shops. Big businesses don’t look too kindly on animals hanging around. But small, usually family owned businesses have a reputation of keeping a furry companion close. I have met shop dogs who live in the shop full time, when the owner closes down, the dog stays there as added security. There’re shop dogs who go home with their owners after the day is over.
Why have a shop dog? I’ve heard people disagree with keeping an animal nearby because of the safety risk. But I haven’t seen a shop dog get in the way, in fact, I always see them doing their job, escorting people, checking in on the shop, keeping out of the way.
I in no way work in a mechanic’s shop. I make my money away from, but tend to spend it in my garage. When I step out to work on a project in the garage I always call my dog, Niya. I always say that my dog is my best friend. She doesn’t judge, no matter how the day went, what has happened, or my attitude, Niya is always there to greet me when I come home, happy to see me, jumping for some attention.
I first met Niya in December 2018. I was the Head of Academics at a bilingual high school in Fengxian, Shanghai. I lived in a suburb of the big city called Nanqiao. Stray animals are not an uncommon site in China. When I rode to work, I’d see at least two to three stray dogs or cats every day. But when Niya came hobbling into our apartment complex with her broken leg and sad eyes, there was no way I was letting her die out in the cold. A long story, but Niya made it through the initial hardships of the infections she had, the puppies she had, and…