Dogs have gone from living in the doghouse, to sharing our homes to sleeping on our beds. Now, your pooch may bark at your boss. June 23 is the Second Annual Take Your Dog To Work Day.
So far, more than 2,000 businesses have signed up for the “dog day,” now sponsored by pets.com.
To insure all goes well, and that Fido doesn’t take a chunk out of the next cubicle, or scarf down the guy’s lunch at the next cubicle, there are codes of doggy etiquette that participating companies are advised to follow. For starters, only well behaved dogs are invited. Dogs must have their required vaccinations, and must stay on a leash. Owners must take their dogs out with enough frequency to prevent accidents, and must pick up. Also, unaltered dogs are not invited; companies don’t want to be responsible for those kinds of accidents either.
This will be the second year that Xerox Corporation’s, Palo Alto, Calif. Research Center will participate. This year, there will be 50 dogs on the job (up from last year’s 30). Greg Newell, systems engineer, says last year’s dog day went as planned without a single complaint from any of the 500 employees.
“I believe sharing the workplace with a dog makes for a more comfortable atmosphere, and there are studies that prove that dogs really reduce stress,” says Julie Wainwright, pets.com CEO.
The volume of scientific documentation is growing. Just one example is a study conducted by the Baker Institute in Melbourne, Australia, that revealed pet owners enjoy lower blood pressure (than non-pet owners) and are at less risk of heart attacks. In fact, at least according to this study, having a four-legged pal can reduce blood pressure as efficiently as eating a low-salt diet and/or cutting down on alcohol.
An organization that calls itself the Stress Institute confirms what many Americans suspect; the workplace is the number one source of stress in America.
The rate of absenteeism has declined in those lucky offices that welcome dogs every day, according to a study conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Glenville, Conn.
Still, not everyone is so easily persuaded. Kathy O’Malley, radio personality at WGN in Chicago thinks the idea is “sweet,” but in reality dogs will be disruptive to the workplace. While talking on the air about the Eighth Annual Take your Daughter To Work Day, held on April 29, she and her on-air partner Judy Markey were prompted by a listener to begin the First Annual Take Your Parents to Work Day, (which took place June 1). The idea caught on, and even Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley declared an official proclamation to establish the Day.
“Daughters can learn what their parent does, parents can learn this too,” says O’Malley. “They may know your job title – but have no idea what you actually do. We said the parents should visit for about an hour, not disrupt the entire day. Except for cleaning the carpet of muffin stains, I’m not sure there’s a real benefit to taking a dog to the work place.”
“The benefit is being able to showcase my dog,” says Helena Bakum, a product manager for CCBN.com, a financial service Internet company in Boston, Mass. Debo, a 3-year old Newfoundland/Labrador mix will share Bakum’s office. “We’re a company of young professionals, and there are more pictures of dogs on desks than children.”
For better or worse, in increasing numbers, pet owners are humanizing their companion animals; 94 percent of pet owners talk to their furry friend just as they talk to people, and attribute at least some human emotions to their pet, according Dr. Aaron Katcher, professor of psychiatry emeritus, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Alan Beck, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.
Patti Moran, founder/president of Pet Sitters International (a not-for-profit educational organization for professional pet sitters in King, N.C.) imported the concept of Take Your Dog To Work Day from England last year. She says, “I still challenge anyone who sees that wagging tail not to smile,” she says. “And who can argue that we don’t need more smiles at work?”
(For more information on Take Your Dog To Work Day, check out www.pets.com.)
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