Are you stressed? Do you need some household goods, tools, mousetraps, plumbing, electrical, or even a barbecue? You can reduce the first, and solve the second, with one stop.
A&J Home Hardware now has a new employee dedicated to two tasks. He takes making your day better just as seriously as he does his nightly mousing patrols of the hardware store.
White with orange spots and streaks, Brock “really is a big flirt,” notes Karri Marcoux. He leans into each touch; scratch under the chin and he practically grins with joy. So soft and so gentle. Pink nose and toes, he gives you “eyes” if you stop stroking.
Apparently, pet therapy has come to 469 Bouchard St. As you step into the store, there’s Brock, surveying you: do you need healing? The sign says boldly “Cat Therapy” and, in smaller print, “The Doctor is In.” Unlike Lucy of Peanuts, maybe he does solve problems.
Come to the window where he is stretched out on his baby-blue bed. He reaches out to you, physically and emotionally.
“I did not make the decision to get a cat for the store. It was direction from Brigitte Michel,” says Marcoux, recalling Michel’s exact words: “I think we need a cat. Go find one.”
Michel stops by and asks “Are you popular Brock today?”
Clearly, the cat loves the attention. He was once abandoned, but now has a family.
“It was about a week and we knew he was right for us.”
Where to find the right cat for the job?
“So it had to be a rescue,” says Marcoux. “My thought was we might as well save one. I made an appointment.”
Marcoux says not much is known about Brock’s history, but “that day he jumped right up on the counter and into the box and said ‘let’s go,’ so it seems he picked me, not the other way round. When we got to the store it was as if he said ‘I live here now.’ ”
The cat is five years old but with all the pampering, could live much longer.
“Sometimes I call him Broccoli,” says Marcoux. “You know he could be here for another 20 years. He gets more visitors than I do.”
Marcoux beams as Brock strides regally across the office.
“It was May 18 when he came to us. He is very playful and engaging. He is also a bit of a ham, too. Boy, does he crave contact.”
Brock is perhaps an unusual name.
“Brock was what the shelter called him. We kept it. He was an outdoor cat but he adapted instantly to his new home and he seems to be doing his job. That’s his spot right here. His perch. Most of the time he is at the window waiting to see who has come shopping.”
Big paws knead and he touches and taps for attention.
“He is mellow,” says Marcoux. “I scoop him up and he just hangs out for the kids. All I have to do is shake the treat jar and if he is somewhere in the store, he comes running. He’s at the door waiting for us. He sits by the employee sign-in book in the morning as we arrive. He follows the staff around as they prepare to open the store.”
Marcoux finds Brock improves everyone’s day. “He makes me stop for a hug. Sometimes he will sit by my keyboard and monitor. The other day one customer asked, quizzically, ‘Did I not have my coffee this morning or was your cat watching mouse videos on your monitor?’ ”
Some cats stroll with an air of superiority. They are distant, disinterested. Not Brock.
“We love him, he is so cute,” says employee Amanda Lashuk. “I had to start taking my allergy medication again, but it is worthwhile.”
Visit A&J Home Hardware at 469 Bouchard St. and get some Cat Therapy with Brock. It may be the best five minutes of your day.
Store hours are 8:30 to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and closed Sunday.
The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.
By Hugh Kruzel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jul 12, 2023 at 00:44