This Apartment Building’s Luxury Amenity? Daisy, The Newfoundland

published Feb 28, 2019
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(Image credit: Courtesy Randy Fifield)

It’s one thing to check into a hotel, like at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco, where Buster, the hotel’s “Canine Operating Officer” is available 24/7 for an on-demand cuddle.

But to get to live in a rental building with an on-site dog who lives in the lobby during the day? That’s a building I want to move into right now.

To that end, meet Daisy the 12-year-old ‘House Dog’ at NEXT Apartments in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. This adorable black Newfoundland has one job: To greet residents and prospective tenants from her dog bed in the lobby. How does this work? Daisy comes to work with her dog watcher and gets to work greeting tenants all day long.

Bonus: She’s also available upon request for quick hugs and photo opps.

Though some apartment buildings prefer humans without pets, NEXT, which operates 1,200 units in buildings located in Chicago and L.A., is one of the more pet-friendly property management companies we’ve seen. They also offer doga (yoga with dogs) classes for pets and their owners and hosts many pet-themed holiday events.

I talked with Randy Fifield, owner of NEXT, to talk about why this is the amenity many of us can only dream about:

How did Daisy come to spend her days in the lobby?

Daisy was our family dog and has this innate smartness about her that is almost human-like. It’s profound. When our last child was going off to school, she was sad. She looked at me like, “I helped you raise five kids, I’ve had this big job and now what’s next.” It was the soul in her eyes that kept looking at me and I thought NEXT was next. Four years ago, I brought the idea to my team of her being our resident dog greeter.

What did your team think at first?

In the beginning a lot of our analysts and VPs were nervous about this. We also had to type up a set of rules specifying that she has to be in the physical presence of someone on the staff at all times and that tenants aren’t allowed to take her to their apartments. We had to make sure she was protected and loved.

What’s been the best reaction on the part of tenants?

People are overwhelmed that they can walk through the door and have this cuddly soulful warm experience. They were overwhelmed that she could walk around. She laid there, she listened and calmed them.

What’s a day in the life for Daisy?

She comes in with the person who watches her and first goes to her water bowl in the kitchen and then she gets a snack and proceeds to lie either to the side of the [front] desk or underneath the desk. People call for her and she’s always there for them.

What tips would you have for apartment building owners who might want to try this?

You have to insurance and you have to have the right animal. Daisy has worked with a professional trainer and this isn’t a test. She’s a known entity. This is important because you can’t take a risk with people’s lives, especially if a dog’s behavior is erratic or if there’s a chance she or he might bite a tenant.

How has this enhanced the renter experience?

A lot of our tenants are in transition. They’re first-time renters, they’re leaving their parents’ home or are moving to a new city. Just to have this warm love that’s always there for you is kind of soothing in a very busy life. For our tenants, Daisy is a constant. Regardless of whatever happens in your day, she’s there for our residents.

Looking for a new place to live? Here are 20 questions to ask your landlord right now (besides, “Do you have a lobby dog?”)