There are many studies which show the value of pets (primarily dogs and cats) in the workplace. They create a serenity and a friendliness which often can be lacking. For a number of years, I wanted to have a dog to bring with me to work. In 2011 I left a law firm and opened my own practice. A large part of my practice was Social Security disability. Many of my clients were very distressed, upset, and nervous, as a result of their condition or from the stress of the disability process; often it was both. I believed a dog could relieve some of that stress.
Although most of my previous dogs were bigger dogs, I decided to get a small, hypo-allergenic dog for the office. After searching online, my wife found a bichon-poodle mix at our local animal shelter. I met her and took her for a walk (the Dog Whisperer says that you get to know a dog best on a walk). It took about five minutes for me to know this was my dog.
I planned to take as much time as necessary to train her to behave well in an office. However, the day after I got her, I took her to a very crowded barn sale. She walked beside me quietly, curiously sniffing those around us, but not making any fuss. When I stopped to talk to someone, she would lay down quietly beside me. I took her to work that Monday, and she has been coming with me ever since.
When I would meet with my clients, Phoebe would come to the door of my office and greet them. She likes to sniff people and get petted, but once she meets and greets you, she goes off and lays down – people often forget she is there. Many people have commented that she relaxed or de-stressed them. One woman had a severe fear of leaving her house; it took her two weeks to get up the courage to come to see me. Phoebe greeted her enthusiastically and jumped on her lap as soon as she sat down, and stayed there for our entire 90 meeting. As she was leaving, the woman said that was the best and calmest she had felt in three years.
Phoebe doesn’t get to interact with clients that much anymore, though she is always happy to be where the action is. In the past seven years, she has slowed down and her hearing is getting bad (just like me), but she continues to greet those who come into the office enthusiastically, and she never has a bad day. To this day, clients ask where she is and how she is doing, and often request that she come into our meeting, which she is always happy to do. I call her my Director of Public Relations. She is living proof of the benefit of having pets at work.