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One office and its dog – A curious tail…

Helen Booth
Helen Booth

26 January 2012

Meet Oli (short for Oliphant) our office dog:

Oli, Tamar's office dog.

Oli, Tamar's office dog.

For all of you that haven’t see our endless tweeting and ‘instagram’ing of his adventures! In case you’re wondering, he’s half Jack Russell (no suprises) and half Pekingese (more suprising)!

Being a country girl at heart, it has always been a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I get a dog. Like moving house, changing jobs or having children there is never an ‘ideal’ time to get a dog as we all waiting for the optimum moment albeit financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise that never arrives. I’m of the opinion that one should just ‘do it’ or in this case ‘get it’ and make it work.

Fortunately I work in a forward thinking digital agency, Tamar,  so when I sheepishly emailed my boss, Tanya Goodin, asking if I could bring a puppy in for a ‘few days a week whilst it was young’ she responded saying “yes, I love dogs”, 4 months on Oli has been in the office every day since (even when I’m not here!) and I think we’re all the better for it! I am also lucky that Workspace (the company we rent our office from) allow dogs onto the premises and our neighbours, b-street,  also have an office dog called Harry, an American spaniel who sometimes, if a little relcutantly, keeps Oli entertained.

Obviously I’m thrilled because I get to have my dog around despite the odd occasion when I step in a ‘mishap’, tread it around the entire office  then spend my lunch hour on my hands and knees scrubbing multiple faece footprints. Now I’m far for vigilant with my Poo patrolling, to the relief of my Creative Director, Sarah Gravelling, who discovered Poo palace under one of the desks (the undiscovered place of choice for Oli’s number 2’s!) and had to sanitise the area whilst I was out of the office.

Toilet dramas aside,  I am pleased to see that the experts agree with me:

Experts, including 82% of GPs, say that pets at work can help employees relax, reduce stress and heart rate and even lower blood pressure as highlighted in the Mirrors article about Eddie the office dog over at our friends Google. A Guardian report also agrees saying that “far from being a distraction, office animals can help colleagues get on better, reduce stress and raise efficiency”.‘Human feel-good hormones (endorphins) are released with a dog near-by in stressful situations,’ says Dr Roger Henderson, author of Stress Beaters: 100 Proven Ways To Manage Stress (Metro, £7.99), and a contributor to stressbusting.co.uk. ‘But it’s a mystery as to why.’ The benefits of keeping a dog in the office includes reduced nerves, indigestion, headaches, coughs and tiredness. ‘I would like to see many more dogs involved in working environments’, enthuses Henderson.

I agree with Henderson!

Unsurprisingly our chums over the pond are leading the way with annual  ‘ take your dog to work day’ and with great success it would seem. From experience I can tell you that not only does and office dog go down well in the office, but Oli has also done a blinding job on some of our external meetings where he is often scooped up by staff and paraded around! So why doesn’t everybody have an office dog?

Despite all the evidence suggesting that an office pooch could ultimately make people perform better at work, and the vast amount of dogs that are not rehomed because people can’t take them to work, British employers or those that rent commercial properties ban office dogs.

I expect us Brits are terrified that we’ll open up the floodgates and all of a sudden we’ll have more dogs than people in our workplace and they form gangs worse than that of a gang of disaffected youths in hoodies. We’ll be wading through excrement and fighting public liability cases when the dogs chew the hands off all the staff.

Oli won an award at the Christmas party for ‘biggest stress reliever’ and he also got a mention at our launch for being a highlight of 2011. Animals, especially man’s best friend have worked alongside humans for the last 14,000 years so I think it’s time to embrace our canine friends in the work place. You won’t be barking mad, you’ll be barking glad!

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