Steve, handsome Corgi mix with his proud "Guardian" Genevieve Morrill, CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
1. Genevieve, please tell us about yourself, where you grew up, and when and why you came to West Hollywood.
Please include your professional background as well.
That would be a full length novel but I will try best to encapsulate. My father was a Methodist minister in the Seattle area and both parents were existentialists and very involved in civil rights, women’s right and the need for change within the church and the world. Our family went to Chicago for a big march with MLK in 1966 and then moved to a ghetto on the West Side of Chicago in 1968 when I was 7 years old. We moved around to various communities across the globe to work on social change and community development. It shaped my life and probably what attracted me to West Hollywood.
I have loved West Hollywood and worked here for 18 years starting with my job as Vice President of the Pacific Design Center in 1999 until 2008. I created a non-profit called “Books with Feet” – an educational theater group directing great stories from classic authors for the stage.
I served on the board of the West Hollywood Chamber for nearly a decade and took the CEO position in 2010.
2. How did Steve come into your life?
Crazy story. Steve was actually a gift from our friend Norma Lynn Cutler who, when my husband turned 62, felt it was imperative that we get a pet and that it “would change our lives.” Well we thought she was crazy, but oh so right! My husband and I don’t have children so we are one of those obnoxious dog owners who dote on them like babies. What's he like? Spoiled rotten and very full of himself. Sweet with people but will challenge bigger dogs. He’s a 20 pound Corgi mix and he loves to dig for gophers and chase squirrels. He has caught a couple much to my chagrin.
3. How does he enrich your life, and what is your funniest story about him?
He enriches our lives and hard to imagine what it was like not to have him. He brings such joy to our lives. Funniest... is how he was named after a kid’s joke:
Grasshopper walked into a bar and the bartender says:
“Hey, we have a drink named after you!”, and the Grasshopper says, “You have a drink named Steve?”
And, Steve has a sister-cat named Eydie and they take walks together every morning and evening. No lie.
4. I know you sometimes bring Steve to work with you? How does his presence affect you, your staff, and visitors as well?
My team loves having him! He only comes when my husband leaves town on business, so when he is gone, they do miss him and want me to bring him in. We have city hall staff that also ask if Steve is in the house so they can visit.
5. As of January 2017, according to leading market research firms, Americans have spent $70 BILLION dollars on their pets and projections for the future continue to rise. People are also traveling with their pets more than ever before. How many hotels within West Hollywood would you say are pet friendly?
I would say MOST travelers are choosing to take their pets with them. They miss their pets and worry about them if they leave them behind. Hotels are also adding amenities and services directly related to pets because the demand is there.
6. In West Hollywood, persons who have pets are designated as "guardians," rather than owners. Still, with guardianship comes responsibility. What guidelines would you suggest for folks who travel with their pets around town and take them into both public and private establishments?
More and more people are using the term “service animal” with their companions, but people really need to think twice before taking their pets to public eating establishments, retail and grocery stores. It is truly unfair to businesses who have to deal with all types of liability issues. They are put in an awkward position and in some cases these establishments are not even being allowed to ensure that these dogs are truly “service” animals.
By the same token, the pet guardian should also be cautious about bringing pets to large scale events like Halloween and Pride. Not sure these are the safest and calmest environment for our dear creatures.
7. Ahhh, let's get back to Steve! If he were able, what could he tell us about you that nobody else knows?
That’s between me and Steve. :)
8. From your unique perspective, how do you see the City of West Hollywood benefiting both culturally and financially from the growing pet industry trend toward humanization? A trend that recognizes that "pets are people, too!"
West Hollywood has made its mark in history as one of the most progressive cities for animal welfare. Smart businesses know this and want to set up shop or be the first to create an innovative business.
THANK YOU, GENEVIEVE, for your time and insight. You are a true PETROSEXUAL!
Marianne Buttner, PetrosexualOnline.com