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Finally, Your Best Friend Can Come to Work

By Solveig Fredrickson


Every day is Take Your Dog to Work Day at Replacements Ltd. in Greensboro, North Carolina, the world's largest supplier of old and new china, crystal, silver, and collectibles.

"We've never had a problem: There have been no dog fights and nobody has ever been bitten," says Liam Sullivan, manager of public relations. "It's just amazing. Visualize four football fields of china and silver and crystal with a Great Dane or a Weimaraner walking around, just free."

Replacement Ltd. employees started bringing their dogs to work in 1996. Now 25 to 30 dogs report to work on any given day, and not one has damaged any of the company's 5.5 million-piece inventory. Telephone sales representative Julie Schindler is one of the company's 565 staffers. Her 2-year-old Miniature Pinscher, Weenie, has been a regular since late 1998.

Weenie's routine

"I'm not a morning person, but when we come in, Weenie and I have to walk through several other offices to get to my office," she says. "Weenie has special friends in each office, so she runs around ahead and greets them. It's so much fun - that's my favorite part of the day now."

Schindler's 6-by-10-foot cubicle is stocked with Weenie's dog bed, food and water dishes, and soft toys: "So if you accidentally hit somebody else's computer terminal or desk, it doesn't do any damage." For Schindler's peace of mind, Weenie's water dish sits on a remnant of indoor-outdoor carpeting that covers the cubicle floor. Another option is an absorbent place mat and bottom-weighted, tip-resistant bowls.

Offer fresh food during the day, but don't alter your dog's feeding routine, advises Lara Strazdin, manager of communications at Iams, in Dayton, Ohio, another pet-friendly company. "It's important to have your dog on a regular schedule so you can plan its walks," she says. Dogs who are free-fed, she says, have unpredictable relief needs. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, consider bringing water from home. Water treatments differ, which can result in diarrhea or intestinal upset. Or the taste of the water in your office may simply be unappealing.

Another must is treats, which Weenie gets during her twice-daily visits to human friends. But obesity is a potential problem for any office dog, and at one point Weenie was putting on too much weight. Schindler has since substituted Cheerios and carrots for biscuits.

  • Gate or leash new visitors

    For dogs unaccustomed to the office environment, Schindler recommends baby gates for limiting access. Or, Strazdin suggests, use an extra-long leash that allows a wide range of motion and easy access to water. Make sure to leash your dog and carry a pooper scooper during walks.

    Strazdin's Beagle, Beamer, can sometimes be found sitting in her owner's lap on the company's pets-OK Fridays. For this, Strazdin keeps a lint brush in her desk. Beamer's first visit was so exciting, Strazdin has also learned to keep a small bottle of odor- and-stain-removing enzyme spray nearby.

    If things go well on Take Your Dog to Work Day, many companies may join the ranks of Replacements Ltd., which found that people who bring their dogs to work are the best at serving customers. Schindler says the policy is her favorite benefit and a strong reason for staying with the company. Replacements is counting on it.

    "People tend to stay here longer, becaue where are you going to go if you're really attached to your animal and he comes to work with you every day?" Sullivan says. "There aren't that many places who would accept that."

    Pet Sitters International is the official pet sitter organization of Pets.com's Take Your Dog to Work Day. For a free packet on how to prepare your business for Take Your Dog to Work Day, send an email with your name and mailing address to workingdogs@pets.com.