|Elsa and Lucky|
When Dogs Run the Office
by Elsa Watson
It’s all fun and games until someone reaches for the treat jar.
That’s when our normally quiet office turns into a hullabaloo of skidding paws, slobbering mouths, and dogs trying to hip check each other out of the way. Did I mention that our office has slick wooden floors? And that there’s a long hall and many corners between the treat jar and the beds where most of the dogs like to lie? Oh, right, and I failed to mention the most important detail about our office—that it’s the work home of not one, not two, but often three dogs. Three sizeable dogs. All of whom (go figure) like treats.
I work at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter (http://www.westsoundwildlife.org) a nonprofit wildlife hospital and education center. Sadly for me, I don’t work with our wild animal patients—I’m an office bee, so all of my time is spent in our administrative building, a charming fairy-tale style house that was donated to our organization four years ago.
For many years now, I’ve been taking our dog Lucky to work there with me. At first he thought work was BOOOORING. He’d get antsy and whiny, always wanting to go out, or to go for a ride in the car, or just GO, period. But since he would always rather come along than stay home, he eventually settled into the rhythm of work. He takes long naps on the dog bed. He greets volunteers. He bravely chomps on dog cookies when they’re offered. He’s a desk jockey, just like me.
It helps that Lucky is now among the graying muzzle set. He’s thirteen, so a day of snoozing within ear-shot of the treat jar suits him pretty well. But lately we’ve had a new wrinkle added to our work life. I have a terrific new boss who also loves dogs. In fact, she has five of her own (or is it six?) All rescues. All adorable.
One of the things she loves about working at West Sound Wildlife is being able to bring some of her dogs to work with her. Really, it is a pretty amazing perk! How many people get to work side-by-side with their furry pals? So now on any given day, Lucky might be joined by two black Labs (Lucy and Annie). Or a Chihuahua named Chi Chi. Another co-worker has a long-legged Husky named Denali. Add to that the neighborhood dogs who might stop by to visit with their humans (all Shelter volunteers), and you have a real recipe for dog craziness.
At any given moment there could be four big black dogs all sniffing butts and noses in one narrow hallway. There might be an energetic Labradoodle, a nervous Chihuahua, an 80-lb black Lab puppy, and Lucky, looking very put-upon in an “I’m too old for this” kind of way.
But here’s the wild thing. The dogs all get along. Even Lucky, who has little patience for puppies now that he’s into his dotage, likes all his doggie co-workers. When they greet in the morning, his tail wags so hard it beats against the wall and threatens to dislodge the windowsills. He likes circling the conference table in a string of dogs, traveling nose to tail like a wagon train. He might be the old-timer in the group—the office veteran—but seeing his work buddies puts a spring in his step that was never there before. And that, of course, warms my heart.
We’re extraordinarily lucky, of course. Not only do we work in a very home-like setting, but everyone who steps through the doors is an animal person. Every staff member has dogs. Nearly every volunteer does, and that’s saying something, since the volunteers are about 70-strong. Everyone is used to dogs and they know not to let anyone out the door or to be upset by a little dog hair on the floor or the occasional random bark. When the volunteers gather for their meetings, they’re often surrounded by the dogs, each getting petted by a different set of hands.
From a human perspective, having dogs in the office comes with its challenges. For one thing, they absolutely refuse to answer the phone. Some of them drip water all over the floor when they’re done drinking and others consistently bark at the UPS truck, the garbage truck, and about half of our volunteer corps.
But it also comes with tremendous benefits. In moments of tension or looming deadlines, there’s always a smooth doggie head nearby to rest your hand on. The dogs provide excellent conversation starters with anyone who happens to drop by.
And, of course, they make us laugh. Even as we’re wading through dog bodies trying to get to the photocopier, they remind us that life is about more than copies, more than emails, more than work. Our days aren’t just measured by how much time we spent staring at a screen. Sometimes it’s about important things. Really, really important things. Like being the first one to reach the treat jar.
Elsa Watson is the author of Dog Days, named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s best romances of 2012, and The Love Dog (coming January 29), a story about Apollo, the dog star of a reality show who believe he has the powers of Cupid. Two novellas, A Christmas Tail and The Puppy Trap, are available for the e-reader at just $.99. Visit Elsa online at www.elsawatson.net or www.facebook.com/ElsaWatsonAuthor.
~Thank you Elsa. Lucky is indeed a lucky dog to join you at work. I think I'll take Kelly and Brooks on a little stroll over to the treat jar now! I can't wait to read The Love Dog!
*Note: I'll be posting a book review AND I'll be giving away a copy to a lucky reader/commenter soon, so be on the lookout!