One of the benefits with my job, besides being the perfect retirement gig that allows me to be my opinionated self in my column, still respond to emergencies and crimes, and generally be part of a great community, is that on Fridays I get to take my two Bernese mountain dogs, Dante and Gino, to work with me for the day.
Back in 1993, Gloria Steinem and the Ms. Foundation founded “Take Our Daughters to Work Day,” realizing that the self-esteem of a girl somehow could be enhanced if she spent a day at the workplace seeing Mom or Dad working under the gun and taking orders from someone else. Those without kids, or not wanting to subject them to their co-workers, realized that “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” was unfair to another significant group of the family, one that hardly ever got a chance to visit workplaces – their pets – and so, sometime in 1996, people began to observe “Take Your Dog to Work Day” as a good alternative.
With all my talk about my well-behaved Berners around the newsrooom, I was able to finagle the annual event to once a week.
My boys, like others with dogs can probably also attest, know certain words. At Villa Paloma, doggie excitement of barking and jumping comes with the words “cheese,” “cookie,” “bad guys,” “go for a walk/ride” and now “go to work.” Their internal clock has also somehow recognized Friday morning.
Fridays are usually my “writing day” where I park myself at my desk and write out a majority of the stories that came my way for the week, so having the boys with me doesn’t really interfere with anything I have going that day.
In fact, Dante and Gino making their Friday appearance has become so commonplace that on those rare occasions where I do have an interview appointment or story follow-up on a Friday and don’t bring them, that when I walk through the door that morning, I don’t get “Good morning, Rich” but “Where’s Dante and Gino?”
I’m glad to see my boys so accepted at the Leader office and I’ve realized who’s been noted as more valuable or better liked around here.
It’s kind of hard to have a bad day at work when you’ve got two lovable hunks ready to cheer you up plopping themselves next to you or surprising you with a cold nose or wet doggie kiss.
Originally, it was just Dante that would make his appearance on Fridays
Dante isn’t shy and doesn’t just wait for someone to come up to him. He’s got no qualms about invading someone’s personal space for a “Berner bump” – putting his nose into someone’s arm or hand to be petted. Unfortunately a few times in the newsroom this has led to coffee or some other drink spilling since the targeted co-worker was just about to take a sip of a beverage.
Dante occasionally will pad away on his own to search out the location of the sound of something, usually food, being unwrapped in the building. He also has become so comfortable with the work situation that he’s developed the habit of claiming the spot between all four desks in the newsroom causing us all to step around 110 pounds of stretched out dog so not to disturb his afternoon nap. When he does wake up, I get the look of, “It’s walk time,” which results in an afternoon stroll around North Third Avenue.
Gino, on the other hand, is much more reserved.
If you’ve followed my column before you’ll remember he’s the one I rescued after he was in a puppy mill for two years and, for the most part, has overcome a lot of the issues that came with having that type of life. He can be guarded around people but will warm up with time.
We’ve had “adventures” with him at dog friendly places where, if he got scared or excited, would “let go” making a mess causing a mass amount of apologies as we cleaned things up. Fortunately dog friendly places understand doggie accidents
After some encouraging in the newsroom how “unfair” it was to Gino to stay home (yeah, like I really bought that), I gave in and started bringing Gino, holding back my anxieties. I was very satisfied with his first few appearances that although timid to people, we had no accidents. That is, until his third trip when, right after entering the front gate to the front office, he showed everyone how big of an eater he was and just how healthy of a digestive system he had from the excitement he received from the greeting of our advertising staff.
The one accident aside, both my boys are very good during the day, laying themselves down by my desk and interacting. They’ve shown their separation anxiety, and like with children, will follow me around or wait outside the bathroom door.
Research has shown that bringing four-legged companions into the office can help reduce stress, boost creativity levels and increase trust amongst one another. We live in such a dog-adoring culture that it’s hard to admit when you aren’t totally enamored of them. But hey, when all your furry work buds do is sleep and beg for treats that makes you look pretty great, right? Just make sure they don’t eat those notes I need for the current article I’m working on that day.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.