Raising the Woof in the Office: Take Your Dog to Work


June, 2005

Raising the Woof in the Office: Take Your Dog to Work Day

If you need to suck up to the boss for a raise, Friday June 24 may be the perfect day to do it. Of course, it’s Take Your Dog to Work Day. How could even the most cold-hearted boss say “no” to a precious puppy?

What seemed like a lark, and a play on Take Your Daughter to Work Day has turned out seven years later to be a surprisingly popular perk. Last year, 10,000 businesses requested information on the day (there’s no absolute number of businesses that actually participated, but certainly a number approaching 10,000 is likely).

Patti Moran, president of Pet Sitters International created the day. She explains “The truth is that most people in America do have a pet, and to many millions of American, their pets are their kids.”

Moran adds that she also sought to educate businesses about just how much pets mean to their employees. Getting time off for a veterinary visit, offering insurance benefits for pets or paying for pet sitting services will all pay off with happier employees who may remain on the job longer.

This year, the mascot dog – whose picture is on the poster and other promotional materials for Take Your Dog to Work Day – is a pill bull terrier named Chloe. “I’m so proud my dog was chosen as the ambassador,” says Christine Eluskie of Village Green Companies in Farmington Hills, MI. She says she sees this exposure as an opportunity to show the world, or at least the nearly 10,000 participating businesses and their employees that her breed isn’t so bad after all.

Village Green Companies, a property developer and manager, employs about 100, with two dozen dogs participating. Of course, the dogs come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to suck up dogs, she says no dog is better than Chloe. “I think it’s because people expect something totally different than a marshmallow of a pit bull,” she says.

Many businesses, including Village Green, offer an assortment of special events for the dogs on their special day. This year, Village Green will sponsor, a canine Olympics. Family’s may even view their pup’s partaking in sports events and vying for Gold, Silver and Bronze Bones on a live webcast.

“We go all out because it’s just so much fun,” Eluskie says.

“The hope has always been to show the bond people have with their dogs, and how much fun they have,” says Moran, “And thereby to encourage adoptions.”

It’s not so far-fetched. Jennifer Garrison is a medical records clerk at BJC Medical Center in Commerce, GA, where there are 130 employees. Last year, about ten dogs participated in that company’s celebration of Take Your Dog to Work Day. A co-worker brought in some puppies in need of a home, and Garrison was smitten. “I needed a dog in my life right about then,” she says. “And Geronimo sure has made a difference, helping me through some tough times. Take Your Dog to Work Day sure helped me out.”

For Karen Veerkamp of JanSport (a manufacturer of clothing, luggage and backpacks) in Appleton, WI it’s a matter of simply having a good time with her dog, Angelle, who is an 11-year old cocker spaniel, one of 30 dogs expected to participate this year. Veerkamp, who works in customer service, says her dog won the dress up contest last year (wearing a birthday hat and carrying presents to celebrate the birthday of a local shelter).

As for any naysayers who gripe about allergies or noisy dogs, Veerkamp says of her company’s 200 or so employees, she knows of no one who seriously doesn’t like the event, though some do roll their eyes as if to say, ‘There go those crazy dog people.’

Moran says, “If people really are afraid of dogs or have serious allergies, we encourage them to take the day off.” Truth is that even serious allergies aren’t affected without direct exposure (so not petting the dog will suffice) or prolonged exposure (which doesn’t happen unless the dogs come to the workplace frequently).

“Every company needs a little morale booster, and that’s what Take Your Dog to Work Day is all about,” Veerkamp says.

Moran concedes some dogs just don’t belong at the workplace. They’re not comfortable around other dogs or in social situations. And those dogs should stay at home. Instead, people can bring a picture of their dog, or other pets, such as cats, birds, gerbils or fish who may not be easily or happily transported to the work place.

Moran points out that people with dogs actually do recover more quickly following heart surgery, and may even have better blood pressure than those who don’t happen to have dogs. “Dogs do lessen anxiety,” she says. “How can that be bad for any office?”

Moran isn’t exactly touting that the day become a national holiday, or even a parking meter holiday. But certainly, Take Your Dog to Work Day ought to be a fire hydrant holiday.

Learn more at www.petsit.com/dogday