Dogs taking their humans to work is a remarkably common event in Payson. "We are well behaved canines who love to interact with people and would not consider insulting our humans by leaving them at home," said Misty, a miniature schnauzer.
Misty is a therapy dog, complementing the care Pat Galileo gives her rehabilitation patients at Rim Country Health and Retirement Community.
"I have just begun my training with Misty and Pat," said Loki, a giant German shepherd who outweighs Misty by 85 pounds.
"Interacting with the patients is easy, but Misty's classes are tough," Loki added. "She'll spend the next two years telling me what I can and cannot do."
Angel is another therapy dog. She helps residents at Payson Care Center forget about their pain.
"I started work the day after Barb Ernst, a certified nursing assistant, brought me home from the humane society," said the aptly named Angel, a springer spaniel Aussie shepherd mix. "My work is fulfilling. It is nice to be needed."
"Yes it is," agreed Ranger later, as he allowed Peggy Newman to put the finishing touches on his uniform.
"My red bandanna shows people I'm a friendly guy," he said as he began his daily rounds at Pine View Manor Apartments. His first stop is to see little Yak Yak, the dog, and touch noses.
"I like to make sure my friends are up enjoying the sunshine," he said as he knocked on a human resident's door and was treated with a biscuit.
"The real treat is being able to jump into Robert Temple's SUV when he goes to work," said another dog named Angel, an Irish Setter, with a wide grin, a whine, and a soft bark of excitement over her job.
"I love to feel the wind on my face and hair. I sit in the back seat and help him navigate from house to house as he goes about his days as a residential real estate appraiser.
"When Robert is in need of a haircut he goes to see Jack Mecham at Wild About Hair, and Jazzie and I get to talk about girl stuff," Angel said, "unless her golden Labrador boyfriend comes around."
Jazzie is a slim, stylish 11-year-old Doberman.
"That may be 77 in human years, but isn't she a babe?" growls Jazzie's younger boyfriend, Marvel, as he pads up to the conversation. (He's 56 in human years.)
"Marvel works around the corner at Fiesta Business Products. He manages store security for Jacqueline Crudge and Keith Lierman."
Eyeing up the good looking tan her boyfriend works on during his lunch hour, Jazzie adds, "He's one heck of a ball player, too."
"Ball player?" Angel leans down from the car window to ask.
Marvel's eyebrows twitch. "Aw, come on," he begs his best girl.
"An elderly gentleman with a walker went into the store. He had tennis balls on two of the walker's legs," said Jazzie as she nuzzled Marvel. "Marvel thought the man brought the balls for him to play with."
"The things humans do are beyond me sometimes," Marvel said. "Imagine, putting a toy on the bottom of a walker. Besides, my biting the ball made the man laugh. I like the sound of humans laughing."
Making their humans smile is a job most dogs excel at.
Becca, the silky grey Weimaraner at a local business services store, loves making all of Ed and Diane Enos' customers grin, but Ed is her best-loved human.
"When Ed comes in, it's important he see how much I miss him, so I leave my napping couch at the back of the store and bring him my moose," said Becca.
"I could have been a show dog; I have papers and everything. I just can't imagine any lifestyle that would be more fun than living in the Rim Country," she said.
"Yes, it sure beats life on the road," said Duchess. "Back in the day, I made my living as an interstate trucker with my friend Keith, but I'm a flower child now. I live among the tulips and carnations at Finishing Touch with Debbee McDonald. Even though I hear other humans' stories when they get off the White Mountain shuttle, I don't feel any need to roam."
Blackie, the Lab-boxer mix who greets Wolf Insurance Agency customers at the door, and Bridey, the Scottish terrier who makes her home across the street at the Quilter's Outpost, agree-- Payson is a fine place to live, full of nice dogs and their humans.
"Even this snippet of a pup Barbara Wolf has me babysitting is pretty nice," Bridey admitted grudgingly.
"You know, the Rim Country -- it's where the good sniffs are," added Blackie.