A roadside rescue brings happiness and stress relief to the workplace.
I found my dog Scout and his brother on a Sunday morning, sitting on the side of the road in an empty Budweiser box like two teenagers sleeping off a great Saturday night. I brought the puppies home and watched them eat and then sleep in my backyard, alternating between a shady nest under an ancient nandina and a cool spot under the window air-conditioner unit’s drip.
I’d never had a dog before, so I had no clue what to do with them when Monday came. They were so tiny that they’d already slipped out once through a small hole in my fence, and I was afraid they would escape for good while I was away. What else could I do but take them to work with me?
My office was, at that time, a very casual place, so it wasn’t an issue to have the two puppies around. That first day, we watched them tumble and play in the grass on our frequent breaks, two little puppies without a care in the world.
Scout’s brother eventually found a home elsewhere, but Scout came to work with me every day for the first six months I had him. He started out sleeping in my lap while I worked at my desk. As he grew, he graduated to inhabiting a succession of ever-larger Office Depot boxes. The day I threw out his first puppy box, I nearly cried.
As our office expanded and became more formal, Scout had to stay home during the day. For a while he still came with me periodically, but sadly, our daily ritual ended.
Years later, I still miss having a dog in the office because it’s one of the most potent stress-relievers available. Many days I run home at lunch for a little dog time, which always sets me right. I head back to the office refreshed and fur-covered.
What is it about dogs that changes the workplace atmosphere? Is it that every adult that comes in the door is suddenly 10 years old again, remembering their first canine buddy? Is it that the observation of the simple joys of a dog’s life – a ray of sunshine to sleep in, a belly rub, a new chew toy – puts our self-subscribed stressors in perspective? Is it the freedom of dropping the 10-syllable words and indecipherable jargon in favor of baby talk to a wiggling furry thing? Or is it the calm that comes with unqualified acceptance that doesn’t depend on a college degree or four-plus years of experience preferred?
I think it’s all of that and more. Dogs in the workplace are the great equalizer. There is no rank, no curriculum vitae. Dogs don’t care if you can type 70 words per minute or develop a SQL database. They just want a warm set of feet around which to curl their bodies – the stinkier, the better.
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