If you happen to go shopping at the Kiski Garden Center in Allegheny Township in Pittsburgh, be sure to say hello to Pete, and his counterpart, Sparkles.

While those two employees aren’t on the payroll, they are there everyday trying to relieve shoppers of the normal stresses that might come with holiday shopping.  As Kiski Garden Center manager, Linda Ban says, “We try to make it calm here.  We have cookies and cats.”

Sparkles and Pete are “pet ambassadors,” and along with other ambassadors Punkin and Yoda, just lie around and help shoppers stay calm and relaxed.

Amy Martello, the Therapeutic Services Coordinator at Animal Friends, hopes other stores follow suit with pet ambassadors, as they can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and decrease anxiety.  She said, “Holiday shopping, especially Black Friday for example, can be a very stressful time for people to shop, and having the animals there can really bring down that must grab fight or flight reaction.”


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