Mowgli, left, greets Steve Burger, Rainbow Bicycle’s newest employee. Mowgli is on the store’s website, while Burger has yet to achieve such honor. Burger says there are no hard feelings between the two. (Andree Kehn/Sun journal)
Mowgli, right, reminds Rainbow Bicycle owner John Grenier it is nearly time for lunch. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)
LEWISTON — Not long after Rainbow Bicycle opened for the day, Mowgli was on the job.
He greeted one customer with a sniff, gave another a quick lick on the hand. When the boss came up from the downstairs storage area, Mowgli wagged his tail so hard his entire backside swayed from side to side.
He is 3 or 4 years old, an English springer spaniel mix and is, according to his bio on the Rainbow Bicycle’s staff webpage, “a dog of many talents.”
“Door greeter, crumb cleaner, occasional face licker and overall good boy,” the bio reads.
Mowgli was a Georgia rescue pup when he was brought to the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society in Lewiston a few years ago. Ben Grenier adopted him soon after.
“I think he definitely likes it,” said Grenier, Rainbow’s manager, of Mowgli’s work as shop dog. “He definitely likes people a lot.”
Mowgli tends to be on the job in the fall and winter, when the shop isn’t so busy. He often stays behind the counter, where he mans his post by snoozing on a dog bed or sprawling in the middle of the workshop floor so workers have to wheel newly fixed bikes around him.
“He has a habit of laying in the worst spot in the store to clog up traffic, especially when he’s bored,” said John Grenier, Ben Grenier’s father and owner of the shop.
“He knows exactly where he can be a pain in the butt, where he’s going to be in the way. He just plops himself there and says ‘OK, now you’ve got to deal with me now.'”
Mowgli perks up when the door chime signals a visitor, but he does not greet customers until he’s told he can.
“Almost everybody loves him. I try to ask if they’re OK with dogs,” Grenier said. “He’s pretty easygoing. He just wants to sniff you for five seconds and then go back to whatever he was doing, which was napping probably.”
Small children, though, get special attention from Mowgli. So does the mail carrier, who brings him treats.
“He has a friendship with the mail lady,” Grenier said.
He’s also pretty fond of the owner of Ben’s Burritos, the Mexican restaurant that shares its Lisbon Street storefront with Rainbow. She brings him bits of meat or sweet potato.
And he loves John Grenier. Muffin crumbs are involved.
“Every morning, (Mowgli) just sits at his feet,” Grenier said.
Which is not to say that food is the only way to win Mowgli’s heart. There are also belly rubs.
“People lean down to him and he just flops on his back,” Grenier said.
Mowgli has had to grow into his role as shop dog. As a youngster, he got bored a lot. That is more unusual these days.
“When he’s tired and bored, he lets us know,” John Grenier said. “Because he never barks, all of the sudden he’ll just randomly bark — ‘arf!’ — and if you don’t pay attention, he’ll look over at you.”
Because they live just down the street, Grenier can take Mowgli home when he grows tired of the shop. That happens less often now that Mowgli is older. He likes being there. And the shop’s humans like having him.
“He’s pretty calming,” Grenier said.