Pets at work

August the 4th was a significant day for pets – it was the one day of the year where they can demand their right to have a day at a workplace, rather than sitting at home and sleeping. Which only goes to show that pets seem to have the work life balance about right – one day working a year, and rest of the year fetching sticks or, if you are a cat, sitting on the couch watching TV.

The Pets at Work day is the pet project of Purina, the pet products people. This is how their website describes the national day.

“We believe pets and people are better together, especially at work. They help reduce stress, encourage socialising and get us moving… So if your office isn’t pet-friendly, join us. We think job satisfaction will be at an all-time high.”

We agree. As a couple who work from home and have a dog – not a small dog – we can say that we have extended the one-day a year idea by 365 times!

This is what Purina has to say about pet etiquette on their website:
• Only bring your pet to work if he is well-trained and socialised.

• Be respectful of any co-workers’ pet allergies.

• Respect any pet-free areas.

• Don’t bring your pet in to work on days you’ll be busier than usual.

• Keep your pet on a leash or in a gated area.

• Take your pet home if her behaviour isn’t superb.

Our workplace pet happens to be a Maremma, an Italian ‘guardian’ dog bred for their independent thinking rather than obedience, so we know a little about pet etiquette! Here are some of the things we have added to Purina’s list:

• The boss is always right. This means that if the boss says “Here Tessa”, then it’s time to come inside to work, not rush outside to dig up bones!

• No barking while others are on the phone. We know the phone looks like a bone to you, but to us it’s a communication device that works best in places that are reasonably noise free.

• At work, the general idea is to engage in work. Sure, we can play chasey around the office during the 15 minutes we have for morning and afternoon tea, and the hour for lunch, but other than that, it’s best not to jump onto people who are working at their computers!

• Emptying waste paper bins usually involves placing the contents into rubbish bags – not removing each item individually and tearing them apart all over the floor!

• Wagging one’s tail does need to be a controlled activity – it does not mean swiping everything off the coffee table!

As it happens, we know of many businesses that do have a work-place pet – generally, smaller breeds of dogs that are extremely well behaved. These dogs are excellent at the meet-and-greet-customers side of the business. Cats are less so as they tend to sleep in the in-tray, which does makes it difficult to shift work to the out-tray!

The big issue in the workplace nowadays is health and safety. The last thing you want, is a workplace pet taking a claim against your business should one of your clients go feral, resulting in a “Man bites dog” incident. Therefore, all workplace pets must attend a full workplace safety briefing during which the work place hazards are clearly identified to them – and you need to be sure they fully understand all the implications. Good luck with that!