Work places go to the dogs for a day

Sharna Johnson

Sharna Johnson

By Sharna Johnson

Local columnist

Spend the next few days doing dry runs, brush up on social etiquette, clean the leashes, make sure the collar fits and schedule an appointment with the groomer to get fancy and good smellin’ — Friday, dogs are going to work.

Living in the shadow of Father’s Day, the 16-year tradition of Take Your Dog to Work Day takes place annually on the Friday after.

Organizers of Take Your Dog to Work Day — it was started by Pet Sitters International — encourage employers to host events and even offer planning materials to help make it a success.

The day can be as creative as a workplace wants to make it. There can be pet games and activities, adoption, medical and immunization events, info and training sessions, photos, pampering perks such as grooming and massages, or Fido can simply be allowed in for that one special day.

In Boca Raton, Florida, this year, Take Your Dog to Work Day even became an official holiday, complete with a proclamation from its mayor seeking to raise awareness about pet rescues.

Probably because of their responsiveness and eagerness to meld to their people, dogs get the lead role, but it’s not uncommon to find critters in the workplace — a corner fish tank at the doctor’s office, a fat cat decorating a counter, a sleeping pooch on a blanket under a desk — many pets find their way into the daily lives of their people.

Known for their icebreaking capabilities, fuzzy ones are the champions of melting hearts, starting conversations and providing a distraction from the mundane or stress of most any environment.

In sometimes-cold offices and businesses, people tend to stay in their polite bubbles, avoiding eye contact, limiting conversation and keeping to themselves, but not pooches. They break the rules of personal space, sidling up for petting and eager to kiss on strangers.

Those qualities are the exact reasons why pets have found their way into hospitals, classrooms, children’s homes, nursing homes, programs for veterans, the disabled, and more.

Animals have a knack for filling in social deficits, distracting from stress, breaking barriers and easing pain because they don’t know, or care, about the arbitrary rules of human interaction, they don’t get wrapped up in the norms and expectations and they don’t buy into stress.

Overwhelmingly, pet owners believe having critters in the workplace reduces stress, improves moods and makes for a more positive work environment, according to a survey conducted by Wellness Pet Food.

But then, that is the way pet owners would be expected to feel on the issue, and those statistics don’t take into account non-pet people, folks with allergies, animal phobias and a general dislike for critters. Realistically, hosting a take-your-dog-to-work-day simply won’t work in every environment.

Pets are great, if you’re into pets, but in the same way pet owners want acknowledgment for their passion and fabulous critters, people who aren’t so keen shouldn’t have to deal with them if they don’t want to or literally get sick in their presence.

And too, there are those pets that just can’t hack the people scene and aren’t up to mingling in polite company.

The perk of taking pets to work is sure neat and for some, may even sway job searches as the sublime answer to workplace woes — but to each their own and ultimately, it must be appropriate.
Besides, if the boss just won’t give and let the pooch punch the clock, all is not lost — you can always sacrifice a little vacation time to go play in your dog’s world for the day.

Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her