Friday June 24th has been designated “Take Your Dog to Work Day.” Begun in 1999 by Pet Sitters International, they suggest that we all take our dogs to work to emphasize the human/animal bond, and indirectly encourage people to adopt homeless dogs. I wrote a blog about this issue in 2011, and because our “official office dog,” Millie, is sitting beside me, I was inspired to write about this issue again.
In general, although I’m a big fan of the importance of the “human/animal bond,” I’m cautious about suggesting that people who don’t usually take their dog to work do so on a special, designated day. There are a variety of reasons for that, both from a human and a canine perspective. Here are three ways to look at whether you should take your dog to work:
From the dog’s perspective:
One Side: Wow, I get to spend all day with my human! I love new places, new smells and meeting new people. I’m happy to lie quietly under the desk while my human paws at that clacky thing, even if it is for hours at a time. No worries about the other dogs here who look nervous, I’ll just send them signals to chill out.
Flip Side: Hey, it’s weird in here! Lots of unfamiliar scents, noises and people I’ve never met. And what’s wrong with my owner? She sitting like she does on the couch in the evening, but she won’t scratch my ears or rub my belly. Who the ^&%$ are all these other dogs in here, and why is that Chihuahua growling at me? When are we going to go home so I can relax?
From your co-worker’s perspective:
One Side: I love dogs! I can’t have one at home, but what a great opportunity to get an oxytocin infusion! Besides, it’s not very busy today and distractions are welcome break from same old, same old. What a fun day! And look how well-behaved all the dogs are—no barking, growling or whining, no jumping up—what a testament to good training!
Flip Side: Oh no! I’m allergic to dogs, what a nightmare trying to explain to everyone that I love dogs, but can’t be anywhere near them. And my co-worker in the adjacent office is terrified of dogs, as in, not-able-to-breathe phobic about them. Maybe she should take the day off? What about that important meeting we have today, how are we ever going to focus on that when everyone is cooing over other people’s furbabies? And why is that dog growling at me from under the desk? Maybe I’ll just call out to his owner from the hallway…
From your own:
One Side: What a joy to have Chip with me today! He’s comfy lying under my desk, never startles when strangers enter the office, and will love going on a walk during my lunch hour. Chip comes to the office often, with the blessing of my boss, so it’s not out of the ordinary to have him here with me on Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Flip Side: Oh, please stop whining! Do you have to pee? I just took you outside thirty minutes ago, and have to finish this report before the meeting this afternoon. I’ll have to leave you in here for an hour or so. Will you be okay? You won’t chew on anything, will you? And why did you growl at my boss? She’s a lovely woman, and she is, uh, after all, my boss. Could you be nicer please next time someone comes into the office? Only a few more hours, and we can go home, honest.
Overall, I’d argue that the dogs who do well in an office setting are dogs who go on a regular basis, not dogs who are brought in one day a year. I’m lucky in that my office is, well, my office. Staff members Lisa and Nick love dogs, and the other occupants of the building do too. However, I still pay attention to details to make it work. I put a child’s gate up in my office so that Tootsie doesn’t wander into the hallway when I’m working. I trained the BCs to go through the gate’s opening, and never to jump over the gate itself. I trust Willie 100% to never urinate in the office, but still don’t trust Maggie outside of my office and don’t take my eyes off her if she accompanies me to the kitchen area.
The article I wrote in 2011 on this issue got a lot of comments, and I went back today and counted up how many people took their dogs to the office and how many did not. Four people said they worked at home, so yes, their dogs were “in the office.” Nineteen said, yes, they often took their dogs to their office outside of their home–note that most of these worked as trainers or shelter workers. Thirteen said “sometimes,” or “on occasion,” while twenty said they’d never take their dogs to the office, either because it wasn’t allowed, or because their dog would be miserable. One service dog owner noted that she hated “Take Your Dog to the Office Day,” because she and her dog had to deal with poorly trained, rude dogs all day long. There was also an interesting discussion about cultural differences in being comfortable with dogs. All food for thought.
What about you? Do you take your dog to work? Every done it just for Take Your Dog to Work Day? Don’t hesitate to ask your dog to write in too; I’d love to hear about it from his or her perspective.
MEANWHILE, down on the farm: Well, it’s just gorgeous here. We finally got a lot of rain, so it’s as green as an Irish calendar for the month of May. There are flowers everywhere. Our French Lilac bush is blooming and the sweet scent of it wafts through the window when the breeze in right. The peonies are popping, the Spiderwort is in full bloom and Siberian Iris couldn’t be prettier. The sheep finally have enough lush, green grass to eat, and the lambs are growing like the weeds that are attempting to take over the entire garden.
Maggie and I are working toward our next sheepdog trial; she did well for a first time last week at Nippersink, but my goal is to improve on our next try. Maggie needs to learn to flank the sheep “off the pressure,” (which feels to a young dog like she’s going to lose the sheep completely, so the dog ignores you and brings you the sheep whether you want them or not). I need to work on my timing and blowing the whistles clearly and cleanly. Some of you know that part of my dissertation research was on the whistle signals of handlers to sheep dogs, so I know a lot about how to analyze the whistles produced by others. But blowing them myself is an entirely different proposition. But still, oh the irony!
Here the Siberian Iris in front of the porch:
Since this is Wisconsin after all, I thought it was high time for me to post a picture of some cows instead of just sheep and dogs. This is a herd I drive by on my way to practice herding with Maggie and Willie at a farm outside of Portage. Such a beautiful view!