The Office Manager at Devon Business & Education Centre (DBEC) has all the attributes of a star employee: loyal, a great listener, welcoming and attentive. In truth, she is also a little bit invasive of personal space and no amount of feedback has encouraged her to stop sniffing guests in an overfamiliar fashion.
Minnie has become a bit of a local celebrity – she is greeted enthusiastically by most visitors and seen as part of the furniture, albeit a highly animated part. For us, she symbolises much of the ambience we are attempting to build here – friendly, homely, reliable and, in truth, a little built quirky. Minnie is half collie, half labrador and so she combines inquisitive brightness of a sheepdog, tempered by the affectionate nature of Britain’s most popular breed. So called “Minnie” as she was the weediest of her litter, and now, aged 11, she is a family dog and knows she is very much part of the pack. At DBEC, she positions herself beneath the silver birch at the entrance, watching visitors come and go, investigating when necessary. She knows when to protect us (barking at unsuspecting delivery men) and when to keep a low profile (holiday clubs with lots of children). When called upon, she is a key member of staff, accompanying clients on away day walks and coaches on reflective rambles. She helps break the ice and unlocks the humanity of even the most buttoned up of attendees.
All venues have their certain “je ne sais pas” and a dog like Minnie can add that “va va voom” to make it much more than just a space and more of a destination.