Occupational hazard: Frankie with head aimed at my wrist

Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day, an event started 11 years ago to promote pet adoption by demonstrating to the uninitiated just how charming canine companions can be.

For some of us, every day is take your dog to work day. And as much as I bitch and moan about the insecurities of freelancing, there’s no question that I enjoy spending quality time with Frankie. And I take full responsibility for having incurred a DRSI (Dog Related Stress Injury) before I knew better than to let him rest his head on my wrist while I was typing.

But I started freelancing pre-Frankie. Perhaps you think that, in this tough job market, the notion of wanting a job that allows you to bring your dog along is a bit frivolous.

Not so!

The dog-friendly workplace benefits employers, employees — and, potentially, the unemployed.

For the business owner

Nearly one in five businesses — most of them smaller or nontraditional — allow dogs on the premises, a policy that has little to do with benevolence. Studies show that welcoming pets increases productivity and reduces absenteeism. Some 66 percent of respondents to a Dogster.com survey said they would work longer hours if they had their dogs with them; 49 percent said they would switch jobs if they could take their dog to work; 32 percent said they’d take a pay cut to work with their dogs; and 70 percent considered a dog-friendly workplace an important employee benefit.

Thus, in lieu of cash bonuses, paid health care, and other more conventional perks that workers became accustomed to in the pre-tanked economy, welcoming dogs is an inexpensive way for employers to show their love.

If you run a business and want to attract canine-keen talent, get hold of Dogs at Work by Liz Palika and Jennifer Fearing. Published by the Humane Society of the United States, this book not only lays out convincing arguments for the advantages of enacting dog-friendly policies but also provides step-by-step advice on how to do so effectively.

For employees

The benefits of a dog-friendly workplace are greater than just being able to hang out with your pup; you’ll also have an in with upper management. Let’s face it: Companies usually put out the animal welcome mat because the CEOs want their own dogs around. Legally, employers can’t avoid hiring people with dog allergies, phobias, and plain old dislikes (go figure), and their canine concerns have to be addressed. Such people might even have useful skills. But employees who can praise the boss’s pooch with genuine enthusiasm, or recommend the latest healthy food, have a definite advantage.

For the laid-off

Look on the bright side. Involuntarily becoming a freelancer, independent contractor, or plain old unemployed person allows you to spend more time with your dog — a perk that inspired many a boom-time decision to telecommute, whether it was publicly acknowledged or not. In most business circles, it’s still more acceptable to say, “I want to stay home with my children” than to assert, “My dog really needs me during this crucial furniture-chewing phase.”

Better still: In many places, commercial real estate is going for a song. This might be the perfect time for you to start your own pooch-friendly enterprise with other top talent that’s been let off a company’s leash.

12 thoughts on “Take Your Dog to Work — Or Vice Versa”

  1. Indeed, every day is Take Your Dog to Work day for us. I think it’s a little easier to do this as a home-based worker because there isn’t anyone to gripe, if I take a fetch break, but I have worked places that allowed dogs once in a while (or as much as once a week). It was a nice option.

    And … now, I must get my deadline-soaked self out to my “patio office” and make some measurable progress.

    P.S. Could he look any CUTER sitting in your lap?

    1. No patio work here in Tucson — it’s already about 90 degrees and humid (we’re waiting for the summer rains)!

      As for the cuteness — yeah, I was a sucker for it but I’ve spent several years — and lots of money — recovering from the wrist tendinitis that resulted from Frankie resting his little head against my typing hand. How dumb was that?? He’s banished from that part of the workplace.

  2. In one form or another, Amy and I have been working from home (a rented apartment, a rented home, a condo, or a townhouse – all in Philly, a cottage in the Poconos, and now an RV) since July 2001. One of the perks has been having the dogs with us. They remind us not to take ourselves too seriously and that we need breaks in the middle of the day, too.

  3. Edie….I so relate to your picture! Wrigley sits in my lap SOMETIMES when I am on the keyboard but he doesn’t want to stay very long. I have been thinking maybe those baby slingy things would keep him close to me while my hands are free to type? Perhaps a backpack- but then I would pay for it with back problems i’m sure. Sometimes I do feel guilty typing away even though he is laying at my feet looking soooooooo bored. Time to take him for a walk….great reading, enjoyed it!

    1. I understand the impulse, but don’t go there – you won’t be any good to Wrigley if you have back pain! Wrigley is your muse, and what you perceive as boredom is deep satisfaction at your proximity and deep thinking.

  4. Ok, I’m a bit jealous of Roxanne…like you, Edie, we are not enjoying the weather here in Chicago. It’s even too hot to grill. But as I do a lot of my work at home, barring events and meetings, I too get most of the day with my dog, and feel lucky for it.

  5. I love the idea of taking one’s dog everywhere, that would include work. I hate leaving my dogs behind and generally we don’t go anywhere where they cannot come along.

    I am lucky working at home, so my dogs are at work with me all the time. I don’t know if I could have it any other way.

    1. I’ve been a freelancer for so long, I can’t even imagine playing well with others in an office setting (not that anyone has asked lately) so, yes, it’s dog-friendly work all the way for me too!

    1. Except for, um, your other job — you know, the one where you train dogs…

      Now there’s a blog post that you should consider writing: If dogs ruled Wall Street!

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