Author’s Note: I wrote this blog post prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. For some reason, this devastating pandemic has made working from home lonelier to me. If it were not for my silly but always loyal pups, I’d likely go crazy. So if you’re working from home as part of the national effort to beat COVID-19, love on your dog.These guys don’t know it, bu they are keeping us all sane in the face of uncertainty.
I had just landed my first ad agency job when I discovered the office had something totally unexpected. A dog.
Not just any dog either. Rewrite was a cantankerous old Schnauzer who had a very bad habit of baptizing anything left at the reception desk, including briefcases, parcels and layouts for clients. While none of this made Rewrite particularly charming in my book, there was one thing he did offer.
If I ever got stuck with writer’s block or just bored with an assignment, I would offer to walk the office dog. My boss would happily hand me the leash and off Rewrite and I would go, both happy to escape. It was times like these that I owed my creativity and sanity to that dog.
In 2009, after I started my own PR and marketing firm Lux + Associates, I began bringing my dogs to work as I didn’t like the idea of them home alone all day. Molly and Murphy were Irish Jack Russell terriers and contrary to their breed, they were not even mildly aggressive. They liked everyone and made themselves at home. At the time, Lux + Associates (now Lux-Writes) had a staff of five and fortunately everyone loved Mollie and Murphy. There was never a shortage of volunteers to walk the pups around our downtown Columbia, S.C. neighborhood. Even our mailman loved the pups.
It turns out having office dogs is on trend. Google, Amazon, Etsy, and Ticketmaster to name a few, allow employees to bring their dogs to work. I once worked for a company that supplied packaging to the pet food industry. They also allowed employees to bring their dogs to work. It was cool to see the German Wire-Haired Pointer hanging in the engineering department, while a very happy shelter pup made her home in sales.
So what’s driving the bring doggos to work phenom? Here are five reasons:
Employee Recruiting + Retention. Did you know that 75 percent of those ages 30-40 own dogs? Simply put, Millennials are mad for pups. Those Labradoodles and Cavipoos are the new besties, the new kids and for some, the alternative to a romantic partner. So the idea of being able to bring one’s dog to work is very attractive to prospective employees. And, if they don’t have a dog, they can enjoy co-workers’ canines. HR, this may be your answer to recruiting woes!
Stress Relief. Admit it, work can be incredibly stressful. Petting a dog is a sure-fire way to bring one’s blood pressure down and relieve anxiety. Even better, getting away from one’s desk and taking the office dog for a stroll is a great mental and physical break.
Dogs Are Good Listeners. We all need someone to talk to during the day. And it’s not always about a pressing business issue. It might be something small. Like your back hurts from sitting so long. Or a co-worker is getting on your nerves. Or you’re not sure if you should go to happy hour after work. A dog will listen to every word, staring at whomever is talking to them with intense thoughtfulness, clearly understanding the nuances of the conversation. And, they never talk back. They simply wag their tails.
Improved Customer Perception. Whenever I walk into a business, shop or art gallery with a dog, it makes me smile. First, I’m happy to see the dog – particularly if it has good manners – but it also tells me something about the people working there. They are dog people. Dog = Good. While not all clients or customers are thrilled with an office or shop dog, many appreciate a company or place that feels comfortable enough to make room for treasured pets.
Dogs Aren’t Tech. So much of our lives are dictated by tech. So isn’t it nice to have a real, breathing, warm being (other than human colleagues) at work to remind you there’s more to life than the digital world?
There are times when dogs at work aren’t appropriate. Up to 30 percent of the population has some kind of allergy and we need to be sensitive to that. Not all dogs make good co-workers. Some are too big, too yappy, scare people, are scared of people, or like the legendary Rewrite, don’t have proper office manners. A dog at work is not universally the right thing to do.
Unless, of course, you have a home office and then anything goes!
As for me, my current office dogs are three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels – Oliver, Seamus and Chip – who keep me company as I work solo in my home office. Most of the time the trio can be found under my desk snoring, sometimes yipping and twitching in their sleep as they dream of some wonderful rabbit that eluded them on a walk. While I could sit all day writing, the boys gently remind me – sometimes insistently remind me – that’s it’s time to get up, have a stretch, walk around the block, and enjoy a tasty snack. None of which I rarely argue about.