Wednesday, February 05, 2014


CEOs and their dogs

One divides time between Chicago and Santa Barbara, Calif. Another is ferried around town in a Lexus. Yet another has survived this winter bundled in Burberry and Pendleton coats.
A dog's life? Yes indeed — if that dog's human companion happens to be a local business big shot. Here, CEOs share intimate details about life with their four-legged friends.
Jeff Eckerling, 38, CEO of
Dog: Penny, a two-and-a-half-year-old Lab-Ridgeback mix from Paws who is “the most spoiled dog in Chicago.”
Last Thanksgiving, Mr. Eckerling and his wife dog-sat Sally, a yellow lab who, unlike Penny, doesn't mind being crated. “We had all these people coming over and we realized Sally was going to get into stuff, so we put her in the crate,” Mr. Eckerling says. Before they knew it, Penny had joined Sally in the crate, stuffing it with essence of dog
Pamela Strobel, 61, retired CEO of Chicago-based Exelon Corp.; a University of Illinois trustee and a board member of Chicago High School for the Arts
Dog: Charley, a 6-year-old yellow lab
A puppyhood bout of meningitis left Charley “a little ditzy — a friend calls her the Ruth Buzzi of dogs,'” Ms. Strobel says. “But she has this face that melts people's hearts.” Twice a year, Charley travels to Santa Barbara with the Ms. Strobel and her family to spend a few months in their vacation home. Wherever she is, she always gets dinner at 5:30 p.m., due to an uncannily accurate internal clock. “About 4:30, she becomes my shadow,” Ms. Strobel says.
Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League
Dogs: Max, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever; Bubba, a 3-year-old Chihuahua-terrier mix; and Lucky, a 12-year-old Wheaten Terrier mix
“Lucky can open doors and climb fences,” Ms. Zopp says. “He has circumvented our every attempt to keep him in the yard.” Max “thinks he's a lap dog, which makes sitting on the couch interesting.” And the two pick on Bubba: “They take his stuffed mushroom and make him chase them.”
John Canning, founder and chairman of Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners, and Rita Canning
Dog: Smokey, an 11-year-old, 130-pound black lab, whom Ms. Canning carts around town in an old Lexus. “The back seat is full of hair. She'll keep that car until he dies,” Mr. Canning says. Smokey sleeps on a twin bed in a bedroom that doubles as Mr. Canning's dressing room. Smokey stays in bed, tail thumping, until Mr. Canning puts on his pants. Only then does he leap out of bed. “He knows it's time to eat,” Mr. Canning says. Smokey also knows words — ride, park and car — requiring the Cannings to spell those words in his presence.
John Lahey, 60, chairman and design principal of Solomon Cordwell Buenz in Chicago; and Deborah Lahey, 59, president and CEO of the Chicago Academy of Sciences and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Dog: Scooter, an 8-year-old English bulldog who has Pendleton and Burberry coats Earlier this year, the Laheys had friends to dinner at their Ravenswood home. Scooter “gets very excited when people come over,” Mr. Lahey says, and this time, the couple decided to let him have the run of the house. Before long, Scooter had stolen a good-size wedge of cheese from a party platter and swallowed it whole. “We found it later on the back porch,” Mr. Lahey recalls.
Howard Tullman, 68, CEO, 1871
Dogs: Yoodle Doodle, (Yuddy for short), a 10-year-old bichon frise; and Tramp, a border collie mix both from local shelter Paws Chicago. “I had open heart surgery twice — when I was recovering, Yuddy would stay with me, close to my chest — he wasn't going anywhere,” Mr. Tullman says. “He incented me to get up to take him out, but otherwise he wouldn't leave my side.”
Dee Pizer, 52, CEO of Zeman Homes Inc., a Chicago-based maker of manufactured homes
Dog: Quincy, a 7-year-old, 12-pound Yorkshire terrier who accompanies Ms. Pizer to work every day. “He's not a yipper, but he grr-grrs to go out because he knows he gets a treat when he comes in,” Ms. Pizer says. “He'll do that 10 times a day. Then we have a conversation: 'You're not getting a treat just because you went outside.' ”
Elaine Hodgson, 58, president and CEO of Incredible Technologies Inc. in Vernon Hills, Dog:Max, an 8-year-old border collie. A 12-week-old Max was a gift to daughter Sarah on her 10th birthday: “That was the best day for me, to see her so happy,” Ms. Hodgson says. Now that he's grown up, Max has curious encounters with other animals; one night he escaped and tangled with a skunk, “and then we had to deal with that,” Ms. Hodgson says. His border collie instincts tell him to herd Ms. Hodgson's two cats, but he gives them wide berth. “They hiss at him when he walks by,” she says. “He is definitely ruled by the cats.”

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