The first Take Your Dog to Work Day was in 1999. We’ve come a long way, baby! 300 companies participated in that first year. Now, thousands of companies are having dogs at work today!
I started taking a dog to work in 2001. Rocky, our first service dog in-training, came to work with me every day at the Federal office where my husband and I worked.
It wasn’t easy — I was dealing with the Federal government and a dog in the workplace. But after some help from a Federal attorney in Florida who took his service dog in training to work with him every day, the government finally allowed the service dog in training on campus every day. There was an initial flurry of interest, but pretty soon Rocky and I were a familiar sight and no one gave us another look.
That’s not entirely true. There was a particularly stressful time when our agency had to perform layoffs. Almost every employee was at risk, and our human resources (HR) department was stressed from the pressure of ending employee’s federal career. During that time, some of the HR employees would stop by my office “just to talk.” What they were really coming for was to love on the dog. After the entire process was complete, several months later, some of the HR folks expressed their gratitude that there was a dog around — just having the chance to pet a dog decreased their stress levels significantly, they said.
I eventually left my government career to start Smart Dog University. But not before I’d raised five service dogs in-training with the help of the Federal government. Our three permanent dogs: Lily, Tango, and Nemo were all service dogs in-training and all spent time on the government campus. (They were released from service work for either temperament or health issues and we got to keep them!)
Now I work from home and every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Because I raise and train service dogs, sometimes my “work” involves public places like the doctor’s office, restaurants, libraries, concerts, office buildings, and shopping malls.
Some of the more interesting places I’ve been with the dogs:
- dentist office
- open air concert
- movie theater (the original Harry Potter movie!)
- award ceremonies
- political fundraisers
- live shots on television news
- graduation ceremonies
- elementary and junior high schools
- football games
- speaking engagements
Generally, the service dog in-training goes where I go. They need to learn how to handle many different situations and experiences before they are teamed with their human partner. We’d rather they get all the kinks out with us.
Does your workplace allow dogs? Just for today or on an ongoing basis?