Say Hello to Cambridge’s Shop Dogs

porter square booksAt Porter Square Books, Maxie's always ready to recommend your next read. Photo by Jess Benjamin.

Like so many in Greater Boston, the majority of Cantabrigians rent their homes. While this cuts down on some headaches—property taxes, landscaping—not all landlords welcome our furry friends as residents.

So to satisfy your thirst for canine cuddles, we’ve collected a smattering of shops around town where friendly dogs help cash out customers. Keep your eyes out for them, and maybe stash some Milkbones in your pockets when you’re hitting the town with money to spend.

Porter Square Books • Porter Square Shopping Center • 25 White St.

“My name is Maxie. I don’t know how old I am, but I came to Cambridge in April of 2005. The vet who looked at my teeth said I was probably between 1 and 2 then, so I’m guessing that I’m 13 or 14. My family decided that my birthday was December 3, 2003, so that’s when I celebrate.

My parents bought the store in August 2013, and I took over immediately. They are both very good employees, and I have given them positive performance reviews every year since.

I don’t usually get treats from customers—I give them out. Behind the counter, we have the best selection of dog treats in town (other than the pet store), and the dogs who visit come back there to get one. The best treats I ever got were the homemade dog biscuits that our customer Richard brought me.

Important skills include laying on my back and looking so adorable that people want to come over and rub my belly. Oh, and also I can read! I have a great ability to pick out what’s going to be the next best-seller. Pet peeve: I’ll be honest with you, I’m not crazy about it when humans put their faces right in close into my face. (It’s OK when dogs do, though.)

We welcome all dogs here, and we won’t ask to see your papers—make sure you’re potty-trained, though.”

out of the blue too

XO holds down the fort. Photo by Jess Benjamin.

XO and Shogee
Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery & More • 541 Mass. Ave.

XO (pronounced Ex-Oh) and Shogee (short for Shogun) may seem like an odd couple, but these two run the best dog cuddling racket around. If you’ve walked through Central Square on a sunny day, you know XO. He’s the big dog! Yes, that big dog. The majestic malamute lounging across the entire sidewalk, imploring you to pet him, admire him and bask in his presence. Though he looks like a modern-day dire wolf, he’s the sweetest guy around— when this reporter sat down for our interview, he promptly appropriated my foot as a pillow. Did I mention one of the gallery owners weaves feathers and beads into his hair? He doesn’t mind, and honestly, he pulls it off.

Not far off but a bit tougher to spot is Tibetan spaniel mix Shogee. Little Sho spent his early years in a puppy mill, but as soon as he got out, he took on the task of being a patient, loving pal to his owner’s young kids. Now he has but three teeth, so he rarely nips, even when his best pal XO is getting too bouncy. They both love the street sweeper—that guy always brings them the best treats. Neither care much for rainy days, and XO thinks the African drum class at the art collective/gallery is too loud. He huffs and grumbles through the entire class every week. Nothing much else seems to bother him. To quote his dad, gallery owner Tom Tipton, XO is “unusually chill” and always has been, even from pupdom.

Since Shogee is short on teeth, and XO is maybe just a tad husky (lowercase, of course), plain Milkbones go a long way to win these handsome dudes over. XO somehow manages to eat a lot of Big Macs and fries, too… with those hypnotic eyes, it’s hard not to imagine how he talks people out of their McD’s on a balmy day in Central Square. Stop by, won’t you?

daniel r spirer

Photo by Flash Flood Studios

Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers • 1780 Mass. Ave.

Age: 9 years old
How long have you managed this shop? Eight and a half years
What is your preferred treat from customers? I won’t take food from anyone unless they come in about 50 times.
Any special tricks or talents? I’m a great doorbell.
Pet peeve? People in general. I don’t know why they all love me so much since I always bark at them.
What would you like to tell Cantabrigians about your shop? I don’t get to eat unless you buy my dad’s beautiful jewelry—so come in and shop more! (And I really like the couch downstairs.)

boston dog company

Photo by Emily Cassel

Boston Dog Company • 555 Cambridge St.

Let us tell you about Teddy Bear, the Sheriff of Cambridge Street. Teddy is a boss. Well, Teddy is the boss of Boston Dog Co. (Just don’t tell his dad/company founder, Kent Leung). Even when he’s not at work, his striking portrait watches over the outside of the East Cambridge storefront. (His beauty secret? Coconut oil. You’re welcome.)

This handsome seven-year-old German shepherd has been managing Boston Dog Co. since its launch in 2011, and before that, he was the inspiration for its inception. After Teddy was involved in a very bad accident at doggy day care, his human was motivated to start a different kind of day care—one with more particular qualifying standards for admission than, “has four legs, says ‘bork,’ is a doggo.” Six years and five locations later, Boston Dog is known for having the most stringent application process in the US; only 5 to 10 percent of applicants are accepted. In a college town like Cambridge, that’s got to be a draw for academics and artists alike.

High standards aside, Teddy takes his day-to-day responsibilities seriously. He knows three different languages (English, Cantonese and German), so he can even chat up multilingual puppers! He has tasted and tested each treat in the storefront that serves as a lobby to the day care. He loves children and will give his visitors a big kiss if they’re sweet to him. He’s good not just to little humans but to little dogs—when they play tug of war, Teddy lets them win for a bit before finishing strong. He never goes to sleep without his favorite stuffed animal, and he hates to walk over sewer grates. If you’re starting to think you and Sheriff Ted have some things in common, stop in for a pet! really like the couch downstairs.)

This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 250 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

Like what you’re reading? Consider supporting Scout on Patreon!