For some inexplicable reason, people like talking about how great dogs are to have in the office. Don’t believe me? Here are 9 Reasons Why Office Dogs Make the Best Employees or Why You Should Be Pro Puppy in the Workplace (Hint: Cuteness Isn’t the Only Factor). There are even science experiments that “prove” dogs increase office productivity by creating a more collaborative environment.
This all became relevant last fall when my girlfriend and I decided to get a dog ourselves. Something small enough to live comfortably in a city apartment, smart enough to be trainable, and cute enough to make grown-ass men talk like babies.
We ended up going with a miniature schnauzer and named him Gus (technically Gustaf because, you know, he’s German).
After a couple weeks of him peeing on the floor in our apartment, I started bringing him to work. He was three months old at the time, fully potty trained, and thankfully our coolest office in San Francisco has a pretty lax, non-existent pet policy.
Here’s his first day on the job when Sam put him in a motorcycle helmet.
That was seven months ago and, well, it’s all been downhill ever since.
This is what it’s actually like having a dog at work, the stuff they won’t tell you (in no particular order):
Meet your new receptionist
Gus is freakishly alert and has a barking fit every time someone knocks, rings the doorbell, or opens a door. And I’m not talking just one or two little yips either. He howls.
Potential investor? Here’s my best wolf impression for a good 15-20 seconds. New hire nervous about their first day? Enjoy some obnoxious barking to make you more comfortable.
Since it’s my responsibility to shut it down, that means I’m always on high alert about who’s coming in and out of our shared office. It’s like knowing every time one of your coworkers uses the bathroom and getting nervous about whether or not they flushed.
The only good news is that we ain’t getting robbed any time soon.
Be careful not to drop anything
The other day I asked Gus to put together a TPS report and do you know what he did instead? He found a dry erase marker on the ground and chewed the sh*t out of the cap. Great. Thanks, man.
Whether it’s a paper towel, random office supply, or last night’s lo mein you better believe Gus is going to find it, put it in his mouth, and masticate it like there’s no tomorrow. Which does wonders for keeping the floors clean but feels a whole lot like constant babyproofing.
Say goodbye to lunch
Gus is too attached and it’s probably our fault. He has a mini freak-out if we leave him by himself or with strangers, even if it’s just to grab a drink from the corner store. It’s like the world is ending and frantic barking is our only hope for survival.
I used to love taking half an hour to enjoy something Spammy from the Hawaiian place across the street. Now it’s all about leftovers, Soylent 2.0, and forced starvation.
Take physical and mental breaks
This is simultaneously the best and worst part of having a dog at work. Like many of you, I sometimes get in a groove and forget to stand up or walk around for hours at a time. Most of my day consists of staring at a screen, and there have been times where the only sun I saw was through a pane of glass. Not exactly a healthy or sustainable way to work, let alone live.
But with Gustavo around, I’m required to go outside every two to three hours or face the wrath of his digestive system. Plus, he needs lunch, water, toys, snacks, you name it. Keeping up with a dog’s needs is a big responsibility, but at least I get up and move around a little bit.
The only times it sucks are when: 1) it’s raining or 2) you’ve got a lot of meetings back to back to back. Welcome to guilt-trip city.
Are you not entertained?
For some reason I had it in my mind that we’d show up in the morning, he’d wander around a little while I start working, and then he’d settle in for a nice 10-hour nap until it’s time to go home. Obviously that was way off.
A realistic work day is more like this: show up in the morning, check each room to see if someone dropped their pen, bark a little bit at Kera, bark when someone new comes in, check for more pens, bite Kera’s shoes, and pretend to sleep for about 30 seconds until the door opens again.
He’s in need of endless entertainment and it’s distracting as hell. Thankfully, God made bully sticks which are good for at least an hour or two. Now I never go into a meeting unarmed. Just make sure you get odorless ones or are in a well-ventilated area. Otherwise, it’s gonna be a short meeting.
But I wouldn’t change a thing
It’s easy to complain about all the bad stuff involved with dog ownership, especially when it comes to bringing a puppy to work. In no way, shape, or form does it increase office productivity. Co-workers get annoyed, you get an extra layer of stress added on your day, and about 80% of the time it feels like you’re babysitting a hairy child that hates shoes.
Maybe Gus will grow out of it when he gets older. Or maybe I need to do a better job with training and exercising him before work. That’s all, unfortunately, easier said than done and something that we’re working on.
But even with all the negatives, the only thing that matters is there’s an furry, four-legged creature that unconditionally loves you. That alone makes it all worth it. Hopefully that love doesn’t come at a cost to your place of business and, who knows, maybe we are better off with him around.
All I know is there’s an undeniable new dimension to my 9-5, and it’s not nearly as rosy as it appears online. If you’re thinking about getting a puppy or bringing a dog to work, consider yourself warned.
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