Foreword Online: "Swarthmore College Bookstore Redefines 'Lab Partners'"
Forget about “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.” At Swarthmore College Bookstore, every day is “Bring Your Dogs to Work Day.” For the past eight years, Steve Levin, the store’s book manager, has brought his pair of black labs to work with him. The dogs provide stress relief and comfort to students, staff, and faculty. They have become a fixture at the store, and one of the most popular attractions for visitors to the campus.
“They’re really sweet and gentle and loving,” says Kathy Grace, director. “They’re here pretty much every day unless Steve is off. We have a customer service counter that has a little enclosure, with a baby gate in the entrance. The dogs stay inside, but anyone is welcome to go in there.”
The current “bookstore dogs,” as they are known around campus, are George and Molly. They are the third and fourth rescue dogs that Levin has adopted and introduced into the Swarthmore College community.
Levin works very hard to train the rescue dogs to do well in the environment of the bookstore. They are exceptionally well cared for by Levin, and beloved by the community at the store and the school. “I always say that it’d be good to come back in another life as one of our bookstore dogs,” Grace jokes.
“They recommend certain products like dog treats, collars and other accessories,” says Grace. “Those are always a big hit around Christmas, when students pick up George- or Molly-approved rawhide bones or other treats for their dogs at home.”
“We also sell t-shirts featuring the dogs,” she adds. "We’re on the fourth design now: This one is ‘Lab Partners.’ The shirts are always good sellers.”
The dogs have their own Facebook pages and post on a regular basis. Both dogs have friend counts numbering in the hundreds, composed mostly of students and alumni. Their job description lists them as “customer service specialists,” and they are always represented at pet-friendly campus events.
“George and Molly always sponsor a watering station during those types of events,” Grace says.
This year, Swarthmore is celebrating its sesquicentennial [and in] honor of this anniversary, a list was created with 150 favorite things that students and alumni did, should have done, or wished that they’d done during their time at the school. ... “Play with the dogs that live in the bookstore” is number 135 ...
George and Molly can be found in the Bookstore during its summer hours, Monday to Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Fridays 8:30 a.m. to noon. During the academic year, the Bookstore’s hours are Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays noon to 4 p.m.