Dogs delight in life on building sites

Scott Wyatt and apprentice Buster

More often than not, when you see a tradesperson’s van, a dog can be seen in the passenger seat, or in the back. Taking your dog to work is a bonus that many tradies enjoy – provided the dog is well trained and socialised and the customer is happy for a dog to be on site. A special relationship develops between tradies and the dogs that get to spend all day with them. Hibiscus Matters spoke with four local tradies about their four legged friends.


Retrodoodle Buster, aged 12, is not a dog, according to owner Scott Wyatt, but the best apprentice he has ever had. “He’s never late for work and I’m always right,” Scott says.

Initially the golden retriever x standard poodle was purchased as a family pet. “The kids talked me into getting a dog because they were going to look after it,” Scott says. “But when they went off to school I thought little Buster needed company, so I took him to work.”

The Dairy Flat plumber and gas fitter of Wyatt Plumbing and Gas says Buster has been a regular at work ever since. “He sulks if I don’t take him. When I go away on holiday, my in-laws have to open my van so Buster can go in and sleep. It’s definitely his happy place.”

Scott says that Buster is well known and liked by his customers and merchants.

“Having him with me means I get somebody that I can talk to about the stresses of the job, and he always listens intently and with unconditional love. Everyone should have an animal,” Scott says.


Pablo was only four months old when he first went on a building site with his owner, 25-year-old builder Mark Atkinson of Dairy Flat.

Mark, Total Built owner, says there’s nothing that the one-year-old French bulldog loves more than going to work. “We almost lost him one day because he was supposed to stay home, but he ran after the van thinking I’d left him behind by mistake,” Mark says.

He stays close to Mark around the worksites, although if it’s a rural area he sometimes gets a good run around – provided the client approves.

Growing up, Mark’s family had border collies and rottweilers but he says he wanted a smaller dog for a work companion. “Even if it’s very well trained, an 80kg rotty can look intimidating,” he says. “Also we work on some pretty dirty sites and it’s much easier to clean up a small dog when you get home.”


Plumber Nick Lawrence takes one or both of his dogs with him to work, depending on the job.

The Army Bay resident has been a plumber for 13 years and is co-owner of Plumb Tight. He says both four-year-old British bulldog x Staffordshire bullterrier Rex and one year old blue American Staffordshire terrier Reggie were bought as family dogs. “Staffies have a good nature around kids,” he says.

One reason Nick takes them to work is so they can socialise. “If a customer has dogs, I bring mine for a play date,” he says. “If there’s space they have a great day running around. Normally they pick up a piece of 4 x 2 timber and take it to each builder to see who wants to play. They also love exploring the plumbing supply shops.”

“I open the door of the van in the morning and Rex and Reggie will jump into the passenger seat straight away.”


Tip provides a waggy-tailed welcome at any site where owner Dylan Pain is working.

The 23-year-old Manly volunteer firefighter and apprentice builder says he takes Tip everywhere. He got the four-year-old Labrador x blue heeler as a rescue puppy. “He was going to be put down the next day, so I drove from Christchurch to Gore to pick him up,” Dylan says.

Tip’s intelligence made him easy to train, so Dylan began taking him to work when the pup was only 10 weeks old. Dylan says having Tip nearby brightens the day. Tip is quite happy to hang out on his dog-bed as Dylan works with the Building by Tony team. “He loves being around people, and 99 percent of people want to come over and pat him,” Dylan says.

Tip knows that every day after work, without fail, comes a walk; this often involves Tip running alongside, as Dylan rides his skateboard, before the pair head home.


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