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Working-Class Dog

Open dog policies are good for business.

Tim Smith knew he didn't want to play by corporate America's rules when he launched his San Francisco-based interactive design and production company five years ago. How is he rebelling? For starters, his Red Sky Interactive--a firm that's worked with high-profile clients like Nike, Hewlett-Packard and Lands' End--allows employees to take their dogs to work with them. Here's how canines play in Red Sky country:

Dear Abby: "She's the co-founder," says Smith, 39, of his ultra-friendly Rottweiler, Abby. "She's never been paid, but I'm working on that."

What do clients think? "Quite a few clients actually request Abby's presence."

No bark and no bite: "We actually have a pretty well-thought-out [dog] policy." Specifically, Red Sky pooches must not bark, display aggressive behavior, relieve themselves indoors or roam through the office unaccompanied.

Puppy love in action: "We've got four to six dogs that show up here on a fairly regular basis. You'll frequently see employees lying on the floor with Abby or one of the others for a little dog therapy."

Why all deliveries are special: "I'll never forget, one day we were sitting at the front desk and the Federal Express guy--who was not on his usual route--came around the corner. Abby spotted him and went into this stalking pose, like lions do. He took a long look at her and left. We've joked ever since about how much mail we're not getting. But Abby would never do anything."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Working-Class Dog.

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