Hinge Marketing held a farewell potluck lunch and party a few weeks ago for a co-worker no one wanted to see depart: the office dog.
No, the dog, Bean, didn’t find a better workplace gig. The firm’s landlord informed Hinge officials that their lease said no pets allowed, even though the Shih Tzu had been in residence every day at the Reston firm for more than a year. Despite some pleading, the landlord wouldn’t budge, and Bean, owned by a Hinge project manager, had to depart.
“It was a sad day around the office,” said Hinge Managing Partner Lee Frederiksen. “Most co-workers you can’t scratch behind the ears.”
So it goes around the Beltway, where dogs in the office are a rarity — at least until Take Your Dog to Work Day.
The annual event, which will be celebrated on Friday, encourages employers to open their cubicles to canines and show the camaraderie and joy they offer. The day, established in 1999 by Pet Sitters International, also promotes adoption from animal shelters.
The majority of office leases in the Washington area prohibit pets unless they’re service animals, said Ben Comm, managing director of Cassidy Turley who manages 26 million square feet in the region. Health concerns — including allergies and ticks and fleas — are behind the no-dog and no-animal rules, he said.
“I love my dog, but I wouldn’t bring it to work,” said Comm, who owns a Yorkie-Poo named Chloe. “I haven’t seen any animals in buildings in D.C.”
Hinge had a few dogs come to the office, but Bean became almost a mascot — and developed a following after barking in the background of a webinar. “People think it’s funny and get a kick out of it,” said Frederiksen. So the pooch showed up in the Christmas video, and used to appear under the boss’s desk whenever he ate sandwiches.
“Bean sort of worked his way into our hearts,” he said. “He was a good judge of character.”
Apparently other office dogs are, too. Juliet Greer thinks one of the owner’s dogs helped her get hired at EmpowerIT in Bethesda. Greer came in for an interview, and Chelsea, still a puppy, climbed right into her lap. “There she stayed for an hour and a half,” Greer recalled, napping and licking her. The next day, the owner called and said Chelsea liked her best, and she was hired.
That was 1992, and Greer, the executive services director, worked with several generations of dogs at EmpowerIT, which creates data management and analytics tools. “I had dog treats and dog toys” in my office, she said, noting she had the best of both worlds — dogs to walk and socialize with all day and then no pet responsibilities at nights or weekends.
Then in 2006, everything changed. The company moved to new quarters four blocks away. The new office building was not pet friendly, so the dogs disappeared and morale sank, Greer said, adding: “It’s really a bummer.”
These days, she has two stuffed dogs in her office, and a book of dog photos. “It’s not the same as a wet nose,” she said sadly.
• If you want to participate in Take Your Dog to Work Day this Friday, make sure you have a well-socialized pet — and a boss who is not allergic to or unwelcoming of animals. It also pays to find out how many others in your department are bringing in their pooches so your conference room doesn’t turn into a dog park.
• If you have a young pup or a very energetic or excitable dog, it may not be cut out for office life just yet. Maybe you could take it to a doggy day care or work from home with your pet instead.
• Commute to work wisely. Dogs are safest in the back seat, and you may want to consider a harness or crate depending on how long the ride in will be, according to Toyota’s pet safety ideas.
• Bring a bone or something else that will give your dog a distraction while you take care of business.
• Don’t leave the dog in the car. In hot weather, it takes just minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to climb into triple digits.