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I always thought working at home would be peaceful. Saying goodbye to cubicle land meant the end of plugging one ear when you're trying to make a phone call, coworkers popping up like gophers to ask questions and impromptu micro-management meetings with the pointy-haired boss.

But now I know working at home means a variety of other noises. Construction. Dump trucks racing up and down the dirt road. Landscapers. Chain saws. The UPS man. Neighbors. And my dog.

Dudley Jake is a 6-year-old beagle with a sixth sense when it comes to the telephone. Just as I pick up the portable to dial, he starts howling. Howling at squirrels, howling at joggers, howling at dump trucks, howling at one of his toys, howling to howl.

He started in on my first sales call. I called a well-known NH manufacturer to see if they'd like some PR help. I got two sentences out before Dudley added in his two cents. The marketing director dissolved into laughter. I continued to ask her questions over the noise, but the conversation turned to dogs and family and working at home. I wasn't hired, but I have hope: she remembers me when I call to follow up.

I've also learned more about the editors and reporters I work with than I would have through generic small talk. Many also work from home. A columnist for an industry publication told me, 'Whenever I get on the phone, the kids start acting up.'  A Chicago Tribune reporter laughed and opened her office door so I could hear the housekeeper vacuuming in the other room. Another editor sighed, wishing that he could bring his two dogs to work.

But I knew who was branding my company when I called a graphic designer friend of mine and left a message on her voice mail. Dudley howled and I just kept talking. She called back to tell me how funny it was, and he howled a few more times for emphasis.

Thus, the name: Howling Beagle Communications. If you think about it, Dudley and I have the same goal. He's spreading the word in the neighborhood - howling at other dogs, vehicles and people to make himself known. And I'm spreading the word about a company, a product or a service - helping the public form a positive image of an organization so there is a better chance of the end customer spending his money there. So, in some weird way, we're working together.

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