When times are hard and our lives seem chaotic or unfair…we can count on our pets to bring a smile to our faces. Especially as business leaders in our community, life can be pretty demanding, but owning a pet actually brings about health benefits that get us through the thick of it. For example, studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to the owners. Pets also bring out the childlike love in all of us…have you ever seen a big, tough, grown man melt at the sight of a puppy and start talking in a baby voice? It’s hard to be angry when there’s a cute animal in the room. This is why many employers promote pets in the workplace, and there are many professions that can’t allow pets because of the specific industry they are in, but they really wish they could. Pets create camaraderie within the workplace and spark interactions that may not have happened without them. They can also offer a much-needed distraction. According to an article by the University of Southern California on The Benefits of Bringing Pets to Work, spending too much time too close to a project, problem, or other work can inhibit productivity and cause unnecessary stress. Pets remind people to pause and step back from whatever they are involved in. Short walks, a little playtime, and temporary distractions allow mental breaks so as not to overwork and become stressed.

At Strictly Business, we believe people choose to do business with people they know, like, and trust. As almost every pet owner can attest, their furry friend(s) play a big role in their lives. Getting to “meet” these business leaders’ pets gives us a little look into their hearts and homes. We’re excited as this is the first time we are highlighting Omaha businesses and their pets as a stand-alone feature in the magazine, but we look forward to doing it again in the future, and getting even more leaders involved. Who doesn’t love photos of cute dogs and cats? Reach out to us if you’d like to introduce your pet(s) to all our readers while promoting your business in the next feature!

Meet Murphy! Lori Sorensen, owner and operator of FireGuard, Inc. (www.fireguardusa.com), is the proud owner of Murphy—a six-year-old Maltipoo who loves life! Murphy comes to work with Lori every day and is loved on by all employees. He welcomes customers with his wagging tail and brings smiles to everyone he meets.

FireGuard, Inc. provides full life safety services to all commercial business/facilities: healthcare, education, industrial, restaurants, property management, hospitality, retail, construction, and more. The FireGuard team inspects, maintains, and repairs fire alarm systems, kitchen hood systems, fire extinguishers, fire sprinkler systems, backflows, and special hazard systems. FireGuard also has a specialized team dedicated to the design and installation of fire alarm systems. They are committed to the highest standards of quality in the products they sell and the services they provide. For additional information, please call FireGuard’s main line at (402) 592-1999 or visit www.fireguardusa.com. FireGuard looks forward to serving you!

Dana Russell, RN is the health services director at Prairie Meadows Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Omaha (prairiemeadowsseniorliving.com). Dana is the wife to a very supportive husband and the proud mother to four children and a seven-year-old Boston Terrier named Maverick. Last year, Dana and her family welcomed Maverick into their home—driving six hours one way to Missouri to get him. His favorite treat is peanut butter, and he is really fast when playing chase. Boston Terriers are known as the “gentleman” breed of dog due to their black and white tuxedo look. He has champion bloodlines so he would be eligible for shows, but Dana’s family chose to have him for companionship. Maverick comes to see the residents at Prairie Meadows, and he is always gentle and loving with them. This brings a lot of smiles to the residents daily and has them reminiscing about past times they had with their furry friends.

Prairie Meadows is proud of employees such as Dana who love and live selflessly. If anyone would like more information about the Meaningful Moments Programming Prairie Meadows offers, please call (402) 391-2790, email Marketing@prairiemeadowsseniorliving.com, or visit prairiemeadowsseniorliving.com.

Elizabeth Pooley is the owner and founder of Square Donut (www.squaredonutomaha.com) in Omaha. Her dog Fly, or “Girldog” as Elizabeth calls her, is a 17-year-old Miniature Australian Shepherd. Elizabeth added Fly to her family when she lived on the farm and ran Pooley’s Pumpkin Patch in Bennington. They both loved farm life, and Fly was known for herding the chickens and the kittens instead of the cattle. Fly’s loyalty to Elizabeth has been steadfast through the years. Even now, she will very rarely listen to or do anything for anyone but her. Fly’s favorite things at her age are now food and naps.

Square Donut opened in March of 2020, right at the onset of COVID. As the owner of a new start up dealing with a global pandemic, Elizabeth soldiered through these hurdles in addition to a few others: her mother was in the ICU for over four months. As this was all happening, she had a house fire. Elizabeth, her family, and Fly were displaced for over five months between hotels and an apartment—creating a makeshift office out of a closet in the apartment. Today, Square Donut is experiencing huge success, and Elizabeth and her mother are both back in their homes and doing very well. Square Donut continues to bring Omaha amazing, artisan donuts that melt in your mouth. Visit the shop at 15825 W Maple Rd., go online to www.squaredonutomaha.com, or call (402) 359-1555 to make an order!

This is Daisy, a three-year-old Havanese who is very smart and loving. Daisy will follow several commands, such as “go lay in your bed” and will go to any of her three doggy beds. She has a silly personality and chases anything that runs, especially her human “siblings”. One of her favorite things to do is to get in on the football games when her family is playing in the yard. She always wants to be in the same room as her family, so don’t shut the door on her or she’ll let it be known that she wants to be with her family. Daisy’s owner is Tiffany Falconer, the district manager for Ambius (ambius.com) —global leader in creating healthy places to work, learn, and play.

Ambius is an interior landscaping company serving the Omaha and Lincoln areas and also offers Hygiene360, including hand-sanitizer units and air-purification systems, to keep your business clean, safe, and hygienic. Their plant professionals can help keep your plants looking happy and healthy, and their services include live and artificial indoor plant displays for businesses, complete office-plant services, ambient scenting, commercial holiday decorations, greenwall design, installation, and maintenance, and more. Given all of the research showing that the presence of plants has positive effects on human psychology, Ambius believes that bringing more plants into your home and business is a smart choice in the modern era. Learn more at ambius.com or by calling (402) 999-4825.

Kelly Schroeder, MD is the owner of VENUS Vein Clinic in Omaha (venusveinclinic.com). Ozzy is her two-year-old German Shepherd with a gorgeous, goofy, and well-intended protective nature. She adopted Ozzy when he was only eight weeks old. From day one, he has been her constant shadow. Whether it’s playing with toys or protecting his mom from the tiniest threat, Ozzy is a great big teddy bear. He loves running fast in open spaces and then cuddling on the couch.

VENUS Vein Clinic is the area’s only vein clinic lead by a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatics Physician. At VENUS, they strive to spread the word that achy leg pain, restlessness, or ankle swelling is not only NOT a normal way to feel, but it’s also easy to correct and is often covered by health insurance. At the end of the day, your legs should not feel differently than your arms. If they do, or they keep you awake at night, you may be among a third of other adults who suffer with vein disease. Imagine feeling like exercising in the evening or going for that extra walk with the dog because you no longer have discomfort in your legs or swelling. VENUS Vein Clinic takes care of it all for you. For more information or to schedule a consultation to see if your legs can feel better, go to venusveinclinic.com or call (402) 979-VEIN(8346).

This handsome dog is Nas. He has a soft heart and kind soul. He adores humans and all animals. He loves playing, being outside, and cuddles. He’s the face of Fetch! Pet Care (www.fetchpetcare.com), owned by Vanicsa and Mike Czarnick, and the heart of their home. Vanicsa and Mike adopted Nas, a pitbull mix, from the Nebraska Humane Society. He’s about a year and a half now, and he has the cutest gestures. He literally frolics when he walks or runs, especially when he’s excited! He’s a bull in a china shop, though—only his personality is delicate! Nas is a lot like a child, he wants whatever you have and, if you’re eating, he wants to eat too.

Fetch! is a local, inclusive pet concierge service offering premium in-home care for your beloved animal(s). They have a wide range of services from walks, play-time, feeding, daycare, puggy visits, almost-overnight stays, boarding, medication administration, waste removal, and taxi services. They also customize packages for special occasions like weddings and maternity time.

Fetch! matches families with a Pet Care Professional and then a consultation is scheduled with the family to approve the match. The selected Pet Care Professional will be the sole provider of services going forward, offering a familiar face each visit. The Fetch! app offers real-time tracking of visits, text message exchange with the Pet Care Professional, and pet report cards. To learn more, visit www.fetchpetcare.com or contact Vanicsa at vanicsa.czarnick@fetchpetcare.com / (402) 709-3037.

Anne Branigan leads the membership and event efforts at the Greater Omaha Chamber (www.OmahaChamber.org). In normal times, she supports all the folks who are out and about in the community, serving members and hosting networking and professional development events. Luckily for Anne, working from home means more working with Pearl. A loyal office mate who enjoys scratches behind the ears, tummy rubs, and multiple workday naps, Pearl has reminded Anne that it’s alright to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the Greater Omaha Chamber hasn’t reduced the quantity or quality of programming for their members. Along with the upcoming YP Summit, the Chamber is continually hosting great networking, professional development, and volunteer opportunities to support the Greater Omaha business community. It’s their goal to grow the prosperity of all. Go online to www.OmahaChamber.org to learn about the Chamber and why membership matters.

Jennifer Neid is the community relations director for Ovation Heartwood Preserve (ovationheartwoodpreserve.com) and, like many during the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her family got a new puppy. Max joined the Neids at the end of November and is almost four months old. He is an Australian Labradoodle and is going through puppy training right now. Jennifer and her family can’t wait until summer to take Max on their camping trips and see if he likes to swim!

Ovation Heartwood Preserve Senior Living is currently under construction and is on track to open later this year. The property will offer high-end residential living and experiences and innovative technology options that allow guests to communicate with family, friends, and the world around them. Jennifer hopes to bring Max to the community on occasion and introduce him to some of the residents! Learn more about Ovation Heartwood Preserve by visiting ovationheartwoodpreserve.com or call (402) 999-7900.

Meet Kyle Kern, owner and the ultimate guide for River Life Airboat Tours (www.riverlifeairboattours.com), and his partner in crime Fia! She is a fun-loving, energetic Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. Kyle got her in March of 2018 from Heartland Classic’s located just outside of Oakland, NE. He just wanted a friend to always have around, plus she doesn’t shed so she is a great inside and outside dog. Fia spends her time chasing all kinds of wildlife up and down the river. She also enjoys airboat rides on hot summer days. Kyle and Fia have a good time together, welcoming groups to their nice retreat on the Platte River.

River Life Airboat Tours is a great way to spend quality outdoor time with your family and friends. You’ll skim across the waters of Nebraska at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Each ride is an adventure in itself! Every ride offers the chance to see some of Nebraska’s unique wildlife, including bald eagles, deer, beaver, and more. River Life Airboat Tours offers several exciting boating packages to choose from. They even have a riverside BBQ and party area. Tours are available seven days a week, just go to www.riverlifeairboattours.com for availability.

Pat Killeen is the owner of Engineered Controls and Control Depot (www.engineeredcontrols.com / controldepotinc.com) in Omaha and Lincoln. Pat and his wife Angie have always enjoyed having pets in their life. Over the past 16 years, they have had four little Shih Tzus—Brandy, Maggie, Buster, and Peanut. When they were growing up, they were Pat and Angie’s bundle of joy. However, over the past few years, one by one, the pups started passing away due to old age. So, three years ago, they added Coco to the family. Coco is a female Shih Tzu and is one of the most loving pups they have ever had. She is always happy to see them, and she is everything that a dog can be with her people-loving, tail-wiggling, and face-licking. Since Coco was brought up around other dogs that have since passed away, Pat and Angie felt it only natural that Coco should not be alone…so they just recently added a new little brother to the family! His name is Benny and he is 12 weeks old. It wont be too long that Benny will find his way into many Facebook photos.

Established in 1994, Engineered Controls offers a complete turnkey building control solution including system design, new construction, and owner-direct retrofit sales, installation, repair service, and preventive maintenance work for smart buildings. Similarly, Control Depot is a stocking distributor of Building Control and Automation products serving contractors, major institutional buyers and end-users needing IoT products for a wide variety of applications. To learn more, visit www.engineeredcontrols.com / controldepotinc.com.