A few CEOs say cats are at least equal to dogs, "but I have found that folks with cats seem to be a little more compulsive and uncertain," says Rory Cowan of Lionbridge Technologies and owner of a Bernese mountain dog named Dodo.
Richard Hanks, president of Mindshare Technologies, often gives eight tips for success in speeches. No. 1 is to know your customers so well that you know their dogs' names. Todd Kane, CEO of Temps and owner of five dogs, says photos of dogs at client offices are a conversation starter.
"Do they feed the dog table food? Does the dog sleep in a cage?" Such details are a window into someone's character, says Scott Dorsey, CEO of software company ExactTarget and owner of a 4-year-old Labradoodle named Ellie.
Last summer Bill Marriott blogged about his 8-year-old golden retriever, Murphy, who has learned that as hard as he runs and swims he can never catch up to wild ducks. "I've found that experience is a great teacher," Marriott wrote. "I've been through at least six (economic) downturns — I think this is my seventh — in my career. But I hope, like Murphy, I've developed the patience to work my way through these difficult times."
Dogs may offer insight, but as in all things business, nothing is foolproof, says Gregory Selker, CEO of executive search firm Selker Leadership. He owns a 4-year-old mutt and believes that when someone treats a dog badly it shows they can't be trusted. "However, there are a great many scoundrels who have treated their dogs as kings while grinding people underneath their heel," Selker says.