Business Buddies: Toby and Jessi from Customer Service

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Regina Jau of Lingerfelt Boutique said it was an accidental meeting. Toby was a lone survivor after his mother gave birth to three not-planned puppies and then died. Jau took up Toby as her own seven years ago, and alongside a recent addition, the two have basically become parent and child.

“He was practically dead,” Jau said. “I had to bottle-feed him.”

Nowadays, passersby would be hard-pressed to see obvious signs of the struggle in his early life. The pyredoodle is large enough to stand up at the counter on his own, a customer service representative without worker’s comp beyond dog treats he receives from customers.

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Jessi the bernedoodle came much later, about six months ago.

“I wanted to have Toby train her,” she said. “I also love dogs.”

There is another motivation, however: pyredoodles’ life spans typically range between eight to 10 years.

Toby is a senior citizen of Elizabethton, and his age is visible in his mannerisms, preferring to rest behind the counter and lounge around most of the time, though he will still put his front paws on the counter if he receives a sufficient bribe.

“I am blessed to have the opportunity to bring [Toby] to work with me,” Jau said.

The two dogs are mostly quiet, which works well for the fashion store/pharmacy building.

“They bring the morale up,” she said. “I love seeing the impact they have on people.”

Customers at the pharmacy will often greet Toby and Jessi on their way to the counter, and since many are trying to deal with physical ailments or other sicknesses, the positive sight is encouraging for many.

“They are so sweet,” Jau said. “They will love you no matter what.”

Despite their closeness, Jau said the two dogs are very different in personality. Jessi being young, she often acts and behaves like she is smaller than she is, while Toby is quite aware of his age and stature.

“Toby sometimes acts like a grumpy old man,” she said with a smile.

Despite this attitude, however, Jau said Toby is more accustomed to being around people than other dogs.

“He is especially scared of smaller dogs,” Jau said.

Business Buddies is an ongoing weekly series of profile pieces dedicated to the pet companions of various business owners in Elizabethton and Carter County. If you know any business owners whose pets hang out or work at the store, call us at 423-542-4151 and ask for the news desk, or send us an e-mail at