Dogs In The Office

Cynthia Bailey, MD|March 31, 2012

Dog at officeIt's a rainy Saturday morning, I'm reading the news online (sorry print media I've converted) and my pulse quickens when I see an NPR piece about one of my favorite topics - dogs!  Even better, office dogs!! NPR's question: do dogs in the office help relieve workplace stress? I say yes. Anyone who's been to my office knows my dog is in the back by my desk.  For me, my dog relieves stress and keeps me company, and I work loooong hours.  It's the administrative work that raises my stress meter and hanging with my dog takes the edge off (according to NPR there's actually scientific evidence to prove this). For me, it all started for practical reasons with my first Great Dane puppy, Jazz, over 10 years ago.  Now it's 'normal', and how I work. Jazz The short Great Dane lifespan combined with a Dane puppy's huge potential for separation anxiety destruction (ie furniture, clothing, fencing, structural aspects of house and garden) made it the 'smart' choice to try bringing him to work, and once I started,  I loved it. There were a few adjustments in the office, but my office staff grew to love him too.  It turned out that Jazz's life was tragically really short; he developed an aggressive cancer at age 2 and died at age 3.  My then office manager Judy and I will still bite back tears when we reminisce about Jazz. He was a character.  He'd talk to me, usually when it was late at the office and I'd been digging into the daily pile of paperwork for hours (pre-EHR). He'd sit up tall, look me in the eye and say 'arrh arrh arrh ruff', then look expectantly for an answer or movement that meant we were leaving.  Sorry dude, we leave when the pile migrates to the outbox, today's no different! The only digital photos I have of him were right before he died.  They don't show what a beautiful dog he was before his cancer.  He loved to wad up his blankets and just sort of suck on them.  Sounds gross but it was pretty cute.   Remmie When Jazz died my dog-loving heart was broken.   Finally I got busy looking for another Dane and Remmie entered my life.  I had decided no more Dane puppies (steep and painful learning curve getting them properly trained).  By serendipity and great fortune I found this wonderful retired show champion that epitomized the true 'gentle giant' of the great Dane spirit.   Remmie was my dog soul mate.  We loved each other from day 1; he lived for me and loved his days in the office, and I loved him back big time (still can't write about him with biting back more tears). My office staff loved Remmie too.  He was huge, smart, gorgeous and a 'show stopper'.  Patients would bring friends and family to their appointments just to see him.  If he wasn't there, I'd get complaints of disappointment.  He was affectionate (loved to lean on you or bury his head into your thigh - or waist), perfectly socialized, loved people, stunningly regal and was a great office companion. Anytime I took him out in public, I had to allow extra time anytime for a 'meet and greet'.  I've never had a dog that attracted so much attention, crazy things like:

  • Someone in a car asked if I'd be around for 10 min or more so they could go home and get their kids to see him.
  • Walking in Sebastopol, the local police circled around us in their car, stopped us in a parking lot and wanted to play with him.
  • Once when we took him to a pet friendly hotel in San Francisco's Ghiradelli Square area a huge crowd formed around our car when Remmie stepped out.  Journalists, photographers and a line of tourist flocked him like he was a rock star or British Royalty.  During afternoon tea in the lobby he had a long line of people waiting to take their picture with him.

He was a rock star to me and it broke my heart when he died at almost 9.  We had 5 great years together and I'm glad I took him to work.  I'm sure that whatever the physiologic consequences of stress are, he mitigated mine. Harlequin Great Dane Harlequin Great Dane Harlequin Great Dane in San Francisco pet friendly hotel Harlequin Great Dane in San Francisco pet friendly hotel Harlequin Great Dane Rubio Now it's Rubio in the office.  He's the office clown.  Usually found lyying on his back, legs sprawled up in the air and one eye on the front hall where all the action is.  Well groomed, otherwise poised and, well, a handful.  He'd love to run the place while also getting chasing privileges for the cat who lives in the office across the parking lot (yes, we love our office pets here in Sebastopol). Like all poodles, he's really smart, to the degree that I actually think he cracks jokes.  He's warm and fuzzy, a lot of fun for me, a really good sport about my long office hours (and, yes, it'd be a lot more fun if we let that cat in the office). After my Danes, I consider this standard poodle a lap dog.  When I do watch TV, Rubio and his 50 soft cuddly (plus poodle attitude) pounds are draped across my lap.  I admit it, I totally love my dogs.   I'm sure my dogs, in addition to loving me back, are really good for my health.  NPR said so! poodle poodle poodle poodle Anybody else have dog love affair stories?      

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