1. Josh Flanders with basset hounds Hamilton and Merle Dean at Buzz Bomb Brewing. 2. Doug Mayol, owner of The Cardologist, holds two of his rescue dogs. Madison, left, came from a shelter in Oklahoma by way of a rescue in Madison, Wisconsin. Max, right, was a critical care patient adopted from Illinois Humane in Springfield. 3. Linda Renehan, owner of Springfield Vintage, with 5-year-old Quinn. 4. Monica Zanetti, owner of Wild Rose Artisans, with cat Loki, who likes to help her paint by moving the brush with his paw. 5. Brian Galecki with Pepperoni Pizza, who came to Dumb Records five years ago as a stray kitten and has become the store cat.

If you're a pet owner, you know life is a little sweeter when shared with your favorite friend from the animal kingdom, especially when you're heading to downtown Springfield in the beautiful summer weather to shop, dine al fresco, or grab a beer and take in the sunset.

Doug Mayol, owner of The Cardologist Card (& Sock!) Store, 229 S. Sixth St., opened his first business 52 years ago and hung a sign in that store letting all who entered know that it was a pet-friendly space. The Cardologist has occupied a downtown storefront since 1988 and has always operated under the same principle.

Mayol said, "I rescue dogs and usually have a dog or two in my store," and reminisced about a three-legged Pomeranian he once had that would accompany him to a local bar. Mayol said he unofficially runs "Camp Chihuahua," noting that he tends to adopt senior chihuahuas and other small dogs with adoptability issues.

Mayol thinks a pet-friendly atmosphere makes downtown more attractive to shoppers and believes that downtown stores are more pet friendly than other shopping areas in Springfield. Shop owners line the sidewalks with water bowls in warm weather and often have treats available for pets to enjoy while their humans are browsing.

Monica Zanetti, an artist and owner of Wild Rose Artisans, agrees that downtown is very pet-friendly. She stocks items in her store at 115 N. Sixth St. that are especially for pets and has free treats just for the animals.

"I have customers who bring their pets shopping with them. Some carry their dogs and others keep them on a leash," she said.

She said her cat, Loki Zanetti Reed, acts as "our little supervisor; he loves to greet everyone and supervises every activity. He runs a strict daily schedule, making sure we give him plenty of head scratches and treats."

According to Zanetti, having pets in the mix adds so much more energy to the day, and she thinks it's special to see families with their pets enjoying downtown.

Springfield Vintage, owned by Linda Renehan, has welcomed pets for the seven years that her shop has been at 215 S. Fifth St. However, while her own dog, Quinn, loves walking around downtown, Renehan said, "She does limited time in the shop because she loves being petted, and I would never get anything done."

Renehan mentioned the dog park on Monroe Street that is situated on a small strip of land between two empty buildings. It offers some green space for dogs and provides bags and a trash receptacle for the humans.

"People love their dogs, and it's fun when you can bring them with you while you sit outside, drink a beer or eat some ice cream and enjoy the summer," she said.

Josh Flanders of Buzz Bomb Brewing chuckled as he said that kids and pets are both welcome at the brewery, 406 E. Adams St., as long as they are accompanied by a parent. But seriously, the brewery is unique in that pets are welcome indoors since food is not served.

In fact, Buzz Bomb Brewing, in partnership with other businesses known as the Adams Family, hosts the Dog Days of Summer on the second and fourth Sundays of June through September. Free hot dogs and dog treats are served. Flanders said, "Prizes are awarded to the dogs for random reasons such as fluffiest tail, most patient dog or best bark. It's a very popular event."

Flanders believes that welcoming pets does bring more business to Buzz Bomb Brewing. He himself loves to take his dog shopping with him, although he acknowledges that not everyone feels that way about animals and that needs to be respected.

He said that when businesses don't have public health restrictions in regard to animals, such as places that serve food, it's nice to offer the option to include pets.

Dumb Records, 418 E. Monroe St., has a resident cat named Pepperoni Pizza. Store owner Brian Galecki said about five years ago a kitten was hanging around outside of their previous location. "We took it in, and he has never left," he said.

When asked if having an animal in the store attracts shoppers, Galecki noted, "People come in just to see the cat." Pepperoni Pizza is so popular that he has his own fan page on Instagram.

As far as being a pet-friendly business, Galecki said, "Well, that's interesting for us because we can't have dogs coming in the store since we have a cat. People are usually polite and ask if they can bring a dog in, and in that case, we just ask them to wait a minute while we put the cat in a safe place."

Renehan said she loves being a downtown business owner, but Springfield could be more pet-friendly by also becoming more people-friendly. Renehan noted that Mayor Misty Buscher promised beautification and the invigoration of downtown when she was campaigning. She hopes the mayor can help infuse downtown with more energy through "some love and extra attention."

Holly Whisler is a freelance writer from Springfield who would love to take her dog with her everywhere she goes..

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