Lowe’s hardware store, a chain throughout the United States and Canada, has two new hires this week: a man and his dog. But they aren’t just any human-canine duo. Owen, whose surname has not been released, has previously suffered from a brain injury which he says has made it difficult for him to find employment. Blue, his canine companion, is his service dog.
The pair have been employed as greeters and even wear matching vests. Blue has been outfitted with his own Lowe’s uniform, with the label “Customer Service” sewn on the back. He, however, still wears a “service dog” collar so that patrons will know that he’s there for work and not play time.
Although Lowe’s used to be a pet-friendly chain, they no longer allow dogs in their stores. However, the policy does not extend to service dogs like their new hire, Blue. Customers who see the duo at the new Lowe’s store in North Regina, Saskatchewan are reminded that while Blue and Owen may greet you when you enter to store, Blue is still at work and is primarily there to support Owen.
Spokeswoman Sandy Indig told the Huffington Post that customers shouldn’t just reach out to pet Blue, nor allow their children to do so:
“My understanding is that the dog can be pet if invited by Owen because he’s really there for Owen but if Owen invites them to pet the dog then it’s OK.”
The pair were introduced on Lowe’s social media accounts, with a Facebook post of the two at work quickly going viral. After just two days online, it has garnered 41,000 likes and 16,000 shares. The store has stated that they are very proud to be employing Owen and Blue.
The public reaction has been incredibly supportive for the pair. On social media, many people who live near this particular Lowe’s have said that they would go out of their way to shop there because of their new hires. Others are urging major companies to see what a difference hiring someone with a disability can make to their lives as well as the lives of those around them.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.