Jack Ahern, pictured with Marley, left, and Bear, is the executive chef at Ric's Cafe. He and his wife, Lorna, bought the Foothills-area restaurant in June 2001.
Ric's Cafe, at 5605 E. River Road, offers casual fare, live music and a patio that's surrounded by a dog-friendly lawn.
The couple donates food at Puttin' on the Dog, which benefits the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, in addition to making private donations.
Marley, a 2-year-old Shiba Inu mix, and Bear, a young shepherd mix, came from local rescue groups. Caesar, a 9-year-old pug, came from Jack's sister because he was incompatible with their other dogs. Polly, 18, is a Shih Tzu-terrier mix given to them 16 years ago by a neighbor whose child was too rough with her.
How do you fit in time with your animal?
"We make time with them. Our dogs are really good dogs. We play with them in the evenings and the mornings.
"Our dogs are our kids."
What does having them mean to you?
"Relaxation, because I know they're going to be there when I get home."
How did you choose a name?
"They all had names when we got them. It would be too much on them (to change them)."
What's the coolest thing your dogs do?
"If we have people come to the house that Caesar knows are new, he'll sit on their feet. It's really strange, but it's kind of funny. Even if the people are standing he'll sit on their feet.
"Marley - she's just kind of a spaz. She'll get herself in these awkward-looking positions. She's just so lanky - she just turns herself upside down."
On the bed or off the bed?
"They sleep with us. We have a king-size bed, Caesar sleeps up by the pillows, Bear sleeps at Lorna's feet and Marley sleeps at my feet.
"Polly's too old to get up now, so she has her own little bed."
Do you cook for your dog?
"No, our dogs just get dog food. They get Eagle Pack. … Our dogs do not get table food. We're strict in that department."
What's your best dog story?
"I had a dog named Bilbo one time. He was a blond Lab. I was in 4-H and I raised rabbits, and one day my rabbits happened to get out of their cage.
"Bilbo herded them up and rounded them up and put them underneath the picnic table. He just lay down and protected the rabbits for probably a good hour."
"Our dogs don't really do any tricks. If I try to sit there and teach them, they don't listen. They don't have the patience for them."
"It's between Caesar and Bear. They mark inside the house because they're both males. They tease each other with it.
"Polly's perfect. Marley - if you're not looking, she'll dig your socks out of the laundry basket, and she'll eat them."
"We'll give them Greenies once a month just for being good dogs. Plus, I brush their teeth every day. Once you get them addicted to it, they'll do it for you.
"I use a chicken liver-base toothpaste. The second they see me pull the tube out of the cupboard, they're at my feet."
Do you vacation with your dogs?
"We went to Bisbee about two years ago, and we took Caesar and Polly with us. We didn't have Bear and Marley with us yet.
"They were the most lovely dogs you could have on a patio in Bisbee. They barked at everyone who walked by."
What needs to happen to reduce the number of homeless animals?
"I think people that own animals should be held more accountable on getting them fixed. I don't think raising the rates is going to make them more accountable."