Dogs in the workplace. A tricky one, right? For sure, there are many places of work that really wouldn’t suit dogs. Manufacturing industry workplaces, for example. Public transportation, too – probably unwise. But… schools? General offices?
Here I am in mummy’s office. I’m helping her strategise her next income generation campaign. I’m on my lead, but I have space to roam. You can’t see it, but I also have water and a nice cosy chair. Mummy’s office is in a big school, and technically I’m not really supposed to be here.
I’m a polite, well-trained, quiet, friendly pup. I like people, I also like sleeping a LOT. I don’t bark, or wee in places I shouldn’t. I’m always on my lead and mummy’s office has direct access outside without getting in anyone’s way. She’s lucky – she has a corner office all to herself, with an ante-office for her staff. So why am I not really supposed to be here?
Germs, poo and detritus
Ok, yes – I might poo on the school field, but my mummy is responsible and will pick it up. Local cats, foxes and other creatures leave worse behind! I’m regularly treated with worming tablets and flea-gel. As much as mummy can guarantee, I’m parasite-free.
Some people are scared of dogs
Also true. But I’m not sitting in a maths class or in the queue for snacks at break time. I’m in mummy’s office. She will take me out for my business when it’s quiet. I’m not roaming round the school by myself, looking for a juicy child to chew.
You’re here to work, not to play with your pets
Ah. That’s an interesting and naive statement. Yes, ok – on the face of it, we are all there to work and shouldn’t be playing tug in the corridors. But I’m not a baby any more. I sleep most of the day anyway. And I like to sit on my mummy’s lap when she types. Then we have the whole argument of therapeutic pets. There are scores of reports about pets increasing employee productivity, reducing stress etc. At what point does employee welfare come second to ‘elfn’safety?
If one person does it, everyone will want to bring theirs in, and they’re not all as well trained as yours
Tricky. But some ground rules perhaps to reduce the deluge of applicants for pupprenticeships? The Kennel Club even agrees that there needs to be some sort of framework. I would suggest the following, in no particular order, and it’s not going to please everyone:
- Teachers or staff whose work takes place directly with the children in classrooms shouldn’t be bringing their pets to school – allergies, for one is a good reason that this should be enforced. You just can’t guarantee your classroom will always be 100% non-allergic. Or that the next teacher in your room will be non-allergic.
- Weewee breaks should take place outside of break times and lunch times for the kids.
- Leads on at all times. If appropriate, baby gate across office door.
- Up to date worming and flea shots
- Dogs must be responsibly trained and stranger-friendly (no barking at the principal!)
For now, that’s as far as we have got. I will remain an elusive presence at mummy’s school.