GTPulse: Meet Crystal Mountain’s Favorite Four-Legged Employee

Jeff Rabideaux grew up with a particularly mean poodle.

“My parents brought home the worst dog known to mankind. He was a small black poodle. He bit all of us, bit our friends, breaking skin, the whole ensemble. So, I don’t know, maybe because he was such a small, yappy little thing, when I was an adult and graduated from college and got married, I wanted to have a big dog. Initially, I started out with labrador retrievers.”

He loved his labrador retriever immensely but found himself drawn to golden retrievers.

Golden retrievers weren’t always known for their good nature and ease with people of all ages. They were once considered an unfashionable alternative to black hunting dogs. Sometime in the 19th century, a debtor paid the cobbler he owed money to from a litter of puppies. All of the puppies born were black, except for one that had a soft, golden coat. Usually, any other color besides black was disposed of, but this particular outlier was gifted from one poor man to another and has embodied the phrase “man’s best friend” ever since.

Fisher Rabideaux is the Golden Retriever child of Jeff, and he’s made quite the name for himself.

“We live on Fisher Lake. It has a channel that goes into Big Glen Lake, and we knew that he would spend most of his life swimming in the lake, so we went ahead and named him after it.”

They knew that he would spend a chunk of his life swimming, but what they couldn’t have known was that he would become one of Crystal Mountain’s favorite employees.

“He’s the K9 ambassador at Crystal Mountain Resort. He’s kind of like a greeter.”

Jeff works as a real estate agent with his office connected to the resort.

“So it’s kind of nice, he can wander the front desk area and just mingle with people and get loved on. Kids come to visit him, we’ve got Fisher stuffed animals and T-shirts. He has a yearly calendar with his best of Instagram photos.”

The dog is a local celebrity. And the people ask for him by name. When Jeff first started to bring Fisher into the office several years ago, he sparked an office trend where others brought their dogs in too. Not every dog was as well trained and mild-mannered as Fisher, and before long a no-dog policy was instated at the office. It wasn’t until a few years later that a family came to the resort, and were sad not to see Fisher. Disappointed with his kid’s crestfallen faces at not being greeted by the lovable pup, he reached out to the CEO about how much his children had looked forward to saying hi to Fisher. They had talked about it throughout their car ride to the resort. The CEO came to Jeff and asked him what the solution was. The answer? Employment.

“HR created a job posting and everything. There was one other dog that applied, but Fisher was way more qualified for the position,” Jeff said with a laugh.

His life as a working dog has also transitioned into a modeling career with Glen Arbor Wines. Jeff is a professional photographer part-time and his pictures of Fisher grace three bottles of Glen Arbor Wines – Lake Dog, Snow Dog, and Dune Dog.

Jeff’s love for Golden Retrievers has expanded beyond just making Fisher’s life fun and filled with love. He wants Golden Retrievers all over the region to connect.

A local breeder would host a hangout once a year each fall where Jeff and Golden Retriever owners all over Northern Michigan would come with their dogs to talk about their love for the breed, and of course, to let the dogs have some well-deserved playtime.

“It was great, we all enjoyed it as owners, and of course the dogs love it too. The bummer was, once it’s over we’ve gotta wait another year to see these Golden Retrievers again? So I wanted us to be able to recreate that more often.”

The Northwest Golden Retriever Club was born. The club is described as, “A group of local golden retrievers that are kind enough to bring along their owners,” started in 2017, the group typically gets together once a month. The club’s Facebook page, Northwest Michigan Golden Retriever Club at over 2300 likes, Jeff has truly created a community around Golden Retrievers, and the happiness they bring their owners. With a razed 2020, those gatherings haven’t been able to happen much this year. However, Jeff was able to get a group together last month of just over a hundred Golden Retrievers, the second gathering he’s held.

“In Golden, Colorado they held a huge gathering of Golden Retrievers. It’s hard to get a bunch of people and their golden retrievers to travel that far.”

Dubbed Golden Retriever Day, the event broke an unofficial record for the largest gathering of Golden Retrievers, with an estimated 1,000 showing up to the event. Jeff wanted to recreate that within the club, and did so last year with a smaller turnout. The rain deterred him and the rest of the Goldies, but that didn’t keep all of them from not showing up.

“We were thinking we were going to have around 250. Then it rained, and people kept calling to tell me they’re sorry they can’t make it, but their dog is scared of the rain. So we had around 150 show up.”

This club’s event this year was held last month and drew an even smaller crowd of around 104 due to COVID. 

Although the year has been quieter and surrounded by less four-legged friends, Fisher isn’t letting it get to him and is still working hard at Crystal Mountain as the best ambassador he can be. Is it safe to say that he won’t be perusing job ads on LinkedIn?

“He doesn’t leave my side too often, so I don’t think so,” Jeff laughed.

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Categories: GTPulse