Office mates

A Tulsa company’s employees are leading the ruff life.



Eight years ago, Piper was rescued from the pound and now calls Explorer Pipeline’s Glenpool station home.

Explorer Pipeline’s tank stations are under tight security with high fences and cameras monitoring the giant tanks of petrochemicals within.

But the company’s Glenpool station has an additional layer of protection not generally found in secure industrial sites — a friendly, fluffy yellow lab named Piper, who uses her keen ears to bark at a change in routine, usually before her human counterparts notice. 

She has even trained herself to be a more efficient guard over the years, says Tom Graves, area manager for the company.

“Piper has learned from experience which cars belong here and which don’t,” he says. “If she sees any she doesn’t recognize, she’ll let us know. But if it’s a vehicle that’s here routinely, she stays quiet.”

Piper is one of four dogs that lives permanently within some of Explorer Pipeline’s seven stations along its 1,800-mile pipeline. 

Though some stations can’t accommodate dogs because they’re not manned 24 hours a day or because a few employees are allergic to dogs, Katrinia Moss, a human resources analyst with Explorer Pipeline and the company’s head dog advocate, says Explorer Pipeline is proud to sponsor its unusual employees.

“It’s a great image for our company because these dogs are part of the family,” Moss says.

Plus, they’re an effective employee benefit. The dogs give employees unconditional companionship — especially to the night and weekend workers who would otherwise monitor the pipelines by themselves, she says. 

Though the Glenpool site might seem to be a purely industrial area with giant tanks and pipes, a sizable portion of the 80 acres remains in a natural state, with grass, a retention pond and small wildlife visitors — a perfect environment for an energetic dog.

Piper is well-loved by her coworkers, but Graves says the pooch hasn’t let her guard job go to her head. She’s usually laid-back and affectionate with everyone, even visitors. 

Her typical day involves a few rounds of fetch, a trot around the grounds, a nap in Graves’ office and a shift in the control room. 

“Anyone in the office, she’ll start nudging their arm until they start petting her,” Graves says.

Tom Graves and Piper

Visitors are usually surprised to discover Explorer Pipeline’s station has a furry amenity trotting along the grounds and greeting people at the gates, but they’re quickly charmed. Now, frequent visitors to the station such as UPS delivery drivers and Culligan watermen come prepared with treats.

Graves says the station is a nontraditional home for a dog, but Piper seems to be perfectly content living there.

“She has never shown any indication she wants to leave, so I guess she likes it here,” he says.

Dogs have been a part of Explorer Pipeline’s DNA for some time. Between 1990 and 1994, Port Arthur, Texas, had three male dogs come and go. The fourth  — a female — showed up as a stray puppy in 1995, and since they couldn’t name her Roy like the previous three, they called her Quattro. She lived to be 17, all the while at the station. Nearly all of the company’s station dogs started out as strays or were rescued. Piper was no different.

Graves says a former employee noticed Piper wandering his neighborhood eight years ago, but she eventually vanished. He later learned Piper had been picked up by animal control. 

The employee was concerned because Oklahoma has a long-standing dog population problem as it is. Pounds and shelters are overwhelmed with the sheer number of dogs that are found or brought in, and tens of thousands of dogs are euthanized annually — not because they’re unadoptable, but because there’s simply not enough room. 

“He got Piper out of the pound, brought her by, gave her to us and drove away,” Graves says. 

In addition to Piper, three other dogs provide security and companionship at Explorer Pipeline’s stations. Daisy, a black lab, showed up at the Pasadena, Texas, station as a stray. She’s a shy dog, but she quickly warmed up to the employees. Daisy also has Piper’s skill at recognizing vehicles, and any time it’s someone she remembers, she can barely contain her excitement.

Cooyan, a lab/Great Dane mix, became part of the Port Arthur, Texas, team in 2014 when he was a puppy. A technician found Cooyan in the Southeast Texas classifieds. The owner was looking for a good home for the puppy. The technician picked him out and assured the owner he would have 14 fenced-in acres to roam, along with plenty of indoor living. Cooyan is happiest when he’s able to chase any unwary birds that dare to land at the station, but he also loves sitting in an office chair in the control room — even if he doesn’t quite fit. 

Piper loves making friends.

And then there’s Jett, whose story begins in Tulsa. Moss volunteers with Lab Rescue of Oklahoma, and Jett came to her attention after another volunteer pulled Jett from a shelter. Apparently, Jett’s life was a hard one.

“This dog looked rough,” Moss says. “He had chewed-up ears and white whiskers on his face. He wasn’t getting any attention.”

Jett was estimated to be 9 years old, and older dogs tend to take longer to find adoptive owners. On top of that, Jett needed to find a home that had plenty of outside space; Moss says he’s too big and too full of energy to be comfortable inside. As a result, Jett became one of the toughest cases for Lab Rescue. Though Moss and the organization worked hard to find his permanent home, time dragged on.

“He was with us for seven months,” Moss says. “He was big, black, a senior and needed space. Those can be hard to adopt.”

At Explorer Pipeline’s Wood River, Illinois, station, the employees faced the opposite problem. Their longtime furry companion Joe passed away, and they were looking for a new dog. Joe was the first dog at Wood River, and he was adopted around 2003. But staff found area rescues wouldn’t let them adopt — they weren’t comfortable with the idea of a dog living at a pipeline station.

Piper is one of four dogs who live at Explorer Pipeline’s stations. With plenty of room to run around and someone on site 24/7, these dogs are right at home.

Since Moss worked with Lab Rescue, she was able to convince the organization that the dogs that live at the stations are well looked after and happy. 

“Lab Rescue went the extra mile to make sure this was approved,” Moss says, “because with 70 acres, it would be Jett’s utopia.”

Jett made the trip to Illinois and is now one of the happiest dogs you’ll meet. He has plenty of human attention as well as a huge area to burn off his energy. It helps that he gets plenty of motivation from the local wildlife.

“Jett has made it his mission to eradicate the station of all rabbits,” Moss says. 

Jett’s placement was so successful that the Wood River area manager says he will focus on older dogs when station companion positions become available. 

A happy side effect of the program has been an increased interest in adoption. Employees who work with the dogs see that rescue dogs can be terrific pets, and many get inspired to adopt rescue dogs of their own. 

Explorer Pipeline has a charitable matching program for employees, up to $150. Though these donations can go to a wide range of charities, some employees are inspired to donate to Lab Rescue and other animal causes.

Moss says animal rescue is an important practice, simply because of the sheer volume of animals that have to be put down. 

“There are literally millions of adoptable pets killed every year,” she says. “Over 10,000 of these are in Tulsa.”

Katrinia Moss, a human resources analyst  with Explorer Pipeline and the company’s head dog advocate, with Piper.

Though laws requiring pets be spayed or neutered are on the books, they’re rarely enforced, and far too many irresponsible pet owners allow their dogs to breed, Moss says. On top of that, amateur dog breeders often dump dogs in shelters when they can no longer produce desirable puppies. 

Labradors are one of the highest-volume dog breeds that shelters euthanize, along with pit bulls and Chihuahuas. Moss says that’s largely due to the enduring popularity of labs. But, labs are a high-energy breed that keep their “puppy” spirit for several years. They need activity, training and understanding from their family to be the best they can be. In addition, many times people will surrender a lab because they didn’t realize how big it would get. 

While she knows that it’s a tough, ongoing fight, Moss says seeing a stray dog find happiness in a loving home makes the struggle to find the right home all worth it.

“We might not be able to improve all dogs’ lives, but we can definitely improve this dog’s life,” she says.

As for Graves, he and his coworkers couldn’t imagine their jobs without a furry companion.

“I think we’ll always have a dog at the station,” he says.

 

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May 2017

Home of Hope’s Grand Celebration, June 3, will honor Oklahoma’s past and present governors for their significant efforts on behalf of individuals with disabilities.  Honorees...

Cost: $125

Where:
Shangri-La Resort
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Sponsor: Home of Hope
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Cost: $8 with reservations, $10 without

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68th and Memorial
6808 S Memorial Ste 234
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1336 E 6th St
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Smitty's 118 Tavern
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River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
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Join us at the 2017 John Hope Franklin National Symposium as we discover the importance of Art & Culture and the role it plays in the reconciliation of the races in the United States and around...

Cost: General Admission $249.00. Educators $175.00. Students $100.00

Where:
Hyatt Regency
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6808 S Memorial Dr
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Cost: Free

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"An Act of God" by David Javerbaum a sinfully funny and critically acclaimed new play about the Almighty and his devoted Angels

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Telephone: 918-232-8330
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Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Charles E. Norman Theatre
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Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Robert J. LaFortune Studio
110 E. 2nd St.
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Cost: $20

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American Theatre Company
308 S Lansing
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2809 S Harvard Ave
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Cost: Free

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108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
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Cost: free and open to the public

Where:
McKeon Center for Creativity
910 S. Boston Ave.
TCC Metro Campus
Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: McKeon Center for Creativity
Telephone: 918-595-7339
Contact Name: Cindy Barton
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It's our favorite month of the year!   Time again to celebrate our anniversary with an annual exhibit presented by local artist collective E.T.A!!      E.T.A.’s...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n. main st.
tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918-704-3330
Contact Name: katy eagleston

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In the 1990s, the Tulsa Photo Collective took to documenting North Tulsa at the start of a promise for social change. Now, 25 years later, Examining Change is the exhibition which aims to dissect...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 E Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Living Arts of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-585-1234
Contact Name: Laura Eccles
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Join us at the 2017 John Hope Franklin National Symposium as we discover the importance of Art & Culture and the role it plays in the reconciliation of the races in the United States and around...

Cost: General Admission $249.00. Educators $175.00. Students $100.00

Where:
Hyatt Regency
100 East 2nd Street
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Sponsor: The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation
Telephone: 918-295-5009
Contact Name: Jean Neal
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Speaker: Kylla Lanier, Deputy Director, Truckers Against Trafficking, Silent Auction

Cost: 100

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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
777 W Cherokee Street
Catoosa, OK
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Telephone: 918 822-3539
Contact Name: Keri Spencer
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Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main street
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Cost: $10

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Tulsa Ballet Studio K
1212 E. 45th Pl
Tulsa, OK  74105
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American Theatre Company Studios
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111 N. Main St.
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Cost: $10

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Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Pl
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Tulsa Community College - Metro Campus

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TAC Gallery
9 E Mathew B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 720-0456
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Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Charles E. Norman Theatre
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N. Elgin Ave.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits DVIS
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Talk of Tulsa Show Chorus
Telephone: 918-289-9701
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Cost: Free

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108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
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View map »


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Cost: $20, Fun Run; $35, 5K

Where:
, OK


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Telephone: 918-592-3333
Contact Name: Nikki Jolly
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Memorial High School - Lafortune Stadium
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Tulsa, OK
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Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n. main st.
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Contact Name: katy eagleston

More information

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Cost: Free

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Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
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Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
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‘A Woman’s Eye’ MAINLINE is excited to present a new exhibit featuring 3 local photograhers Tahlia Ball, Christina Parson & Madison Rayon. From ‘quiet...

Cost: free

Where:
MAINLINE ART BAR
111 n main street
tulsa, OK  74103
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A Tulsa philanthropic party favorite, St. John Street Party is the signature fundraising event for the St. John Health System Foundation. Guests will be treated to food from more than 70 of Tulsa's...

Cost: 100

Where:
St. John Medical Center
19th Street Between Utica and Wheeling
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Benefits St. John Health System
Telephone: 918-744-2820
Contact Name: Candice Evans
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Jungle cats, jellyfish and elephants, oh my! If you are an animal lover you will not want to miss the dynamic dance performance inspired by our friends in the animal kingdom! Perfect for animal and...

Cost: $10

Where:
Tulsa Ballet Studio K
1212 E. 45th Pl
Tulsa, OK  74105
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The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) concludes its 2016-17 Season with the Pops performance, Music and Animation, on Saturday, Jun. 3 at Walton Arts Center. Performed under the baton of...

Cost: $30, $42, $52

Where:
Walton Arts Center
495 W. Dickson St
Fayetteville, AR  72701
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Telephone: 479-443-5600
Contact Name: Symphony of Northwest Arkansas
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Come cheer on the Tulsa Athletic, Tulsa's semi professional soccer team, as they take on FC Wichita. Arrive before the game for the Everday Heroes match to watch the Tulsa Fire Department play...

Cost: $10

Where:
LaFortune Stadium
5840 S Hudson Ave
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Tulsa Athletic
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The Symphony of Northwest Arkansas (SoNA) concludes its 2016-17 Season with the Pops performance, Music and Animation, on Saturday, Jun. 3 at Walton Arts Center. Performed under the baton of...

Cost: Single Ticket Prices: $30, $42, $52

Where:
Walton Arts Center
495 W. Dickson St.
Fayetteville, AR  72701
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Sponsor: Symphony of Northwest Arkansas
Telephone: 479-443-5600
Contact Name: Vantage Point Communications
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"An Act of God" by David Javerbaum a sinfully funny and critically acclaimed new play about the Almighty and his devoted Angels

Cost: $20

Where:
American Theatre Company Studios
308 South Lansing
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Joe Watts
Telephone: 918-232-8330
Contact Name: Joe Watts

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The Tulsa Library Trust hosts this 15th-annual festival celebrating Asian art, culture, and food.

Where:
Martin Regional Library
2601 S. Garnett Road
Tulsa, OK  74129
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Telephone: (918) 549-7590
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Cost: $5

Where:
The Venue Shrine
112 E. 18th St.
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 949-1345
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Where:
Billy and Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: 918-836-0655
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Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Where:
Soundpony
409 N Main St
Tulsa
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Telephone: (918) 582-7669
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Where:
The Wine Loft
7890 E. 106th St. S.
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 970-4766
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A night of Western Swing featuring Eicher, Tommy Crook, Steve Bagsby, Jared Johnson, and Nathan Eicher.

Cost: $16-$20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center - Robert J. LaFortune Studio
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Telephone: 918.596.7122
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Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Telephone: (918) 794-4208
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Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
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