21 /06/16

Taking your dog to work: real stories from the desk front


There's something even bigger than the referendum happening this week, or more fun anyway. On Friday 24th June, offices all over the UK are bracing themselves for the influx of canine co-workers. This year marks the tenth anniversary of National Take Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event that raises awareness of how flexible workplaces can help build the bond between a pet and her owner. The stronger this bond, the happier and more productive the employee (common knowledge, that).

e all know a dog is not just for a day but for life, so we sought out real stories from people who include their dog as part of their list of colleagues.

"Don't let my relaxed chair position fool you, I am paying serious attention." - Tusker, Chief Meeter-and-Greeter

Tusker, the 1-year-old cocker spaniel, works at an estate agent in Primrose Hill, London.

When did you first bring Tusker into work?

He came in as a puppy! He doesn’t come in all the time, my wife teaches, so school holidays generally mean he isn’t in the office.

Was your workplace ready for your dog? And what did you do to prepare Tusker for it?

Yes! I work in Primrose Hill so it’s a dog-friendly environment and the women in the office pamper him! I put a crate downstairs with a company branded water bowl and I told everyone not feed him too much. To begin with, productivity was a little lower as there was a lot of cooing, but once things settled down, he became part of the furniture. It’s good to put down some basic, firm training rules so everyone gets a dog that target behaves well!


If Tusker had a role in the office, what would it be?

He is ‘Chief Meeter-and-Greeter’, and even those walking past who don’t intend on coming in, often find themselves drawn in to say hello. He does, however, have a tendency to bark at visitors in motorbike clothing and contractors.

What’s the most embarrassing or strangest thing Tusker has done in the office?

Depending on what he has eaten, sometimes some rather pungent smells can fill the office at less than convenient times. He chases pigeons relentlessly and has been known to get on the desk and nearly launch himself through the window at them.

How many official warnings has Tusker racked up?

He’s had to be moved out the way when important clients come in, and he has a habit of investigating people’s shoes. Other than that it is pretty hard to tell the little guy off.

What was the highlight of his last appraisal?

‘Come more often’.

How might your co-workers describe Tusker?

Very vigilant, especially his quite obvious concern for checking that everyone has their lunch each day as he diligently sits by hoping for some scraps. They also say he is a great comfort and tension diffuser when deals fall through, or when there is any other sort of office angst.

Can you give 3 reasons why your co-workers might like your dog more than you?

He offers more snuggles than me

He sleeps on people’s feet to keep them warm

He attracts more business than anyone else in the office

And finally, what’s the best thing about being able to bring your dog into work?

I have an excellent commuting companion.  

"I'm currently hot flooring here, specialising in paper, bins and naps"

Alfie, the 15-month-old Cavapoo, freelances at a web design and branding agency in Shoreditch, London.

When did you think Alfie was ready for work?

I didn’t really have a choice. I had to work in a place that would accept dogs, so I brought him in a couple weeks after I got him as a puppy. It was more about how I could make it work.

How did you make your working life ready for Alfie?

I would have loved a ‘life hack’ guide to taking a dog to work, which would tell me things such as, can I take him on a train or bus and what is the best route? What to say to a stranger when Alfie play-bites them, or defecates in the carriage? How can I position the idea positively to my boss? How can I make sure that office productivity won’t fall because everyone is petting him?

Everyone’s situation is slightly different but what I would say is, it makes a huge difference to speak to your colleagues about how important it is to treat your dog consistently. In other words, if you want to ignore him, please do so, but don’t get him excited one minute then expect him to leave you alone after that, because he won’t. Don’t feed him your lunch unless you’re OK to have him there every day from that point onwards.

I would also tell colleagues they should feel comfortable to raise any issues they may have with Alfie to me personally, but also at my appraisal because he’s my responsibility and his presence can affect their work. My co-workers are definitely allowed to tell Alfie off if he’s being bad – often some people think that is a taboo, but it’s not and I don’t want resentment. If they can help me train Alfie to become a good dog, this means he’ll be better behaved in the office for all.

"Brutalist architecture is really quite mesmerising, but pigeons are even more so"

What did you do to prepare your office for Alfie's arrival?

I had to plan my journeys to and from the office; so where I usually take a train then a bus, with Alfie in tow I get a different train that gets us 20-30 minutes walk away, which means he gets a bit more exercise too. Sour Apple spray was effective in stopping him chewing things to begin with. I usually get there first on the days I do take him in and do a sweep of the office to take bags off the floor and put bins at waist height.

If Alfie had a role in the office, what would it be?

The Paper Shredder.

"Do you need your paper shredding today? Or your Tupperware licked clean?"

What’s the most embarrassing/strangest thing Alfie's done in the office?

Easily the most embarrassing thing he’s done is peed in a client’s handbag during a pitch.

How many warnings has Alfie had?

He is constantly on his last warning with our finance director. Our CEO likes to annoy the finance director, so he makes sure Alfie comes into the office quite a bit.

What was said in Alfie's last appraisal?

We tend to have our appraisals together and appreciate honest, constructive feedback. In our last one, it was “we could do better”.

How might your co-workers describe Alfie?

A BONE OF CONTENTION! Stupid, fairly mad, disgusting, wilfully subversive, sometimes smart, easily pleased, a total tart.

Can you give 3 reasons why your co-workers might like Alfie more than you?

He talks more quietly on the phone

He is more reliable, timely and strategic

He is more respectful of authority

What’s the best thing about being able to bring your dog into work?

When I take  him to new places and watch him meet new people, I feel proud of him. I love how simply his presence makes some people smile on the street or on the train.  He creates a common talking point between strangers, who become more relaxed and start engaging in conversation.

"A quiet corner to think about my next big venture"

If you have a story of negotiating your own dog into the workplace, or how they've wriggled their way into the hearts of your co-workers and co-commuters, we'd LOVE to hear them.

Send us yours to: hally@catdogfish.com