Do you hate having to leave your pooch at home when you're at the office? This Friday, thousands of employees around the country won't need to -- their workplaces will be participating in Take Your Dog to Work Day. The observance was started six years ago by Pet Sitters International (PSI) as a way to inspire people to adopt shelter animals. "We hope that by watching their co-workers interact with their pets, people will be encouraged to adopt one of their own," says PSI spokeswoman Sheila Smith. Last year, she adds, around 5,000 businesses across the country participated. Of course, as with any event, canine fetes take lots of work. Follow these tips to make yours a success.

1Take a head count

Send an e-mail a few

days before the event, confirming the number of pups attending -- you don't want 20 showing up when you were expecting eight. Remind co-workers that their pets should be well groomed, spayed or

neutered, and well behaved around strangers, says Charlotte Reed,

author of the "Miss Fido Manners" column for Fido Friendly Magazine, a travel magazine for dogs. "After all," she says, "not everyone loves dogs. Some people will be doing work that day."

2Set guidelines

The pooches -- and

their owners -- need

to know that it's not okay to use the conference room as a dog run. Smith

recommends deciding on off-

limits areas beforehand and

putting up baby gates to block them. At the beginning of the

day, have the owners introduce their dogs to the other furry

guests and let them feel out the

situation. If they start acting up, separate them, says Bruce Van Horn, author of "Home Alone: Tools to Help Pets Overcome Separation Anxiety" ($9.99, www.petguru.com).

3Invite some

shelter dogs

Since the goal behind Take Your Dog to

Work Day is to get people to adopt, call your local shelter and ask if they can bring by a

couple of dogs that need homes. (For shelters and rescue groups in the D.C. metro area, try www.metropets.org.) Maybe one of

your co-workers will go home with a new friend.

4Plan activities

Have a dog-and-owner look-alike contest in which your co-workers vote on the winner, or host a doggy fashion show with pets modeling their latest gear.

At McKinley Marketing Partners, in Old Town Alexandria, Chief Executive Michelle Boggs is

hosting a happy hour for her

co-workers and their pets, complete with servings of Frosty

Paws, a soy-based ice cream bar for dogs. (Check the freezer

section of your local supermarket or call 800-225-3636.) Document the day with a Polaroid camera and talk with your boss to find

out whether the company can spring for doggy bags filled with bones or cute collars. On their

way out, give each guest a goody bag filled with a picture and some treats.

5Start planning

for next year

Now that you're a pro, you'll know which activities worked and which really didn't. For more ideas -- or if your company didn't participate this year but you'd like to make a pitch for next -- log on to PSI's Web site at www.petsit.com. It has a downloadable Action Pack that's loaded with tips and activities for a successful day.

Michelle Hainer

Need some pet info? Drop a line to pets@washpost.com. Include your name, city and phone number.

Now wouldn't it be nice if there was a Let the Workers Go Home Day?