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beer dogs
Courtesy Karen Ravn-Heuwetter

These adorable dogs are delivering beer in New York

Written by
Bao Ong

The co-owners of Six Harbors Brewing Company, Mark and Karen Heuwetter, celebrated the second anniversary of their Long Island taproom on May 4th under circumstances they never could have predicted. But unlike countless businesses still shuttered today, the couple’s pair of golden retrievers are helping keep the microbrewery afloat.  

Six Harbor Brewing Company golden retrievers
Courtesy Karen Ravn-Heuwetter

Buddy and Barley—3-years-old and 1-year-old, respectively—greet customers who’ve bought beer for curbside pickup or delivery in Suffolk and Nassau counties every day. The Heuwetters attach empty beer cans on a string and place it around the dogs’ necks before they barrel down a green lawn or cement driveway. Donning gloves and masks, the husband-and-wife team hand deliver cold beers to thirsty customers while their 90- and 60-pound male dogs watch on. Watch a clip below:

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“Why not have them come with us and put smiles on people’s faces?” Mark Heuwetter shares with Time Out New York. “They’re smart dogs. Friendly dogs. I think they get out of it as much as people do.”

The Heuwetters have seen their business drop 70% since mid March, but they’ve tried to be creative by launching a direct-to-consumer service. At first, Buddy and Barley would wait in their Honda pickup truck, but people would inevitably spot the duo and ask to pet them. 

Six Harbor Brewing Company golden retrievers
Courtesy Karen Ravn-Heuwetter

“They would run to greet customers at the brewery, something they had never been trained to do,” says Heuwetter, who added that he and his wife grew up raising pets and have thrown multiple dog-friendly events at their brewery. “The dogs kind of make up for the social disancting, and it gives a sense of camaraderie. It also gives them that sense of peopleness.”

Buddy and Barley have been so popular that the children of an elderly couple requested a beer delivery—with the dogs, of course—that was beyond the Heuwetter’s typical delivery zone. The couple made an exception and drove the 40 minutes to deliver the suds (their most popular can is the blueberry-tinged Bay Hills Blue).

Still, business is not where it was before. Six Harbors Brewing Company furloughed a dozen employees, but they’re awaiting their PPP loan to arrive before hiring back some workers to help with the deliveries (available in two hour windows between noon-6pmd daily).

For now, the business is a family affair with the Heuwetter’s three children helping out part-time. But if our current stay-at-home orders keep getting extended, the dog days of summer could take on a whole new meaning.

Golden retriever
Photography: Courtesy Six Harbor Brewing Company

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