I used to work in an office where dogs roamed free. At one point, we had two rescued greyhounds who kept their post in the office of the production manager, an aging Boston terrier who held court in the art department, and a Bernese mountain dog who lolled at the feet of our editor in chief.
Then, after people quit, moved on, or got laid off, they took their dogs with them, and new ones arrived: a coal-black border collie named Rosa with her deeply soulful gaze, an unpredictable Mexican hairless, and a lovable, lap-ready pug named Mathilde (pictured left).
Say what you will about dogs in the office, but I tell you there is NO quicker shortcut to stress relief. Dogs have a powerful grounding effect (read about how they can boost your mood); their simple, animal presence has a way of making us feel more human somehow–and at the same time neutralize any uncomfortable vibes in a room. Yes, they can get on your nerves a little bit sometimes, especially if they’re suffering from Dog Allergies or they’re not very well trained and jump on you when you’re in the middle of an important piece of work, but as long as their owners take a responsible approach to their care, they can be a real joy.
It’s true: I’ve seen workplace tensions all but melt away when a dog comes sauntering in or collapses with a sigh. How can you be mad over this headline or that meeting when you’ve got a pair of liquidy eyes beaming up at you? They somehow call us back to our kinder, simpler, childlike selves, and, well, sometimes we need that. I actually feel myself getting nicer around them. (Find out just how common dogs are in the workplace.)
I am not a dog owner (yet). And while I love my cat, I appreciate any and all time I have to soak up some canine love. So my very best decision today was taking time to visit my sister and her husband–whom, dogs or not, I very much wanted to see of course–but the added bonus was hanging with Marty and Moo, whom I don’t see as often.
We rolled around on the floor and I let Marty the beagle lick my face and smoothed his velvety ears. I gave Moo, a labradoodle with long red eyelashes who is definitely part Muppet, a good belly rub. And then, later cuddled with Mathilde, who will curl her dense little body against my legs on the futon and snore like a buzz saw.
If you have the chance to spend ANY time with a dog, do it. Lose yourself in some furry playtime. You might find yourself a better person for it. I know I do.