One of my co-workers used to bring in her adorable miniature schnauzer into the office on occasion. Everyone smiled a little bit more with the well-behaved pup curled up in a corner on her dog bed. Personally, I loved having the dog cuddle on my lap for a while when I was typing away. Sure, she was a little distracting, but I figure that the positive energy made up for the time we spent clucking over her cuteness. Positive energy does wonders for productivity, right? And what could be more positive than a cute little puppy running around your office?
Anything could be more positive than that, counters a friend of mine. Her office pet situation is the complete opposite of mine. Her boss brings in her toy poodle almost weekly. The boss apparently thinks that it is a nice treat for everyone. She acts like she’s doing everyone a favor. “Then, the thing proceeds to pee all over the floor, bark like mad when you walk towards it and sometimes even chew through the electrical cords on the floor. It’s the most ridiculous and obnoxious thing ever!”
Two dogs, two very different experiences. Sure, it’s easy to say that one pup is better behaved than the other. I didn’t ever have to worry about our office mascot chewing on anything, at all, other than it’s own “lovey.” But with a little thought, it’s easy to see that it’s not the dogs that made the difference. It’s the owners.
My co-worker would have never brought in an animal that wasn’t potty trained. And she reliably took the dog outside to do its business every hour or two. I cannot remember ever dealing with a problem. Not once. Not even the first time the puppy showed up in a big old office building with lots of people. When I brought this up to my friend, she went into more detail about her boss’s pride and joy.
“Finally, someone brought in puppy pads. Ya know, the things the dogs pee on indoors and then you throw away? I mean, it’s still gross, but it’s better than it soaking into the carpet. Or so we thought. Then we just started to see four of the things thrown around her floor and not picked up once they’d been used. Turns out it’s just as disgusting.” That’s just plain gross. And it’s a perfect demonstration of the problem with their office mascot. The adult wasn’t responsible.
The argument actually reminds me a lot about the debate about bringing your kids to work every once in a while. There was one day when we had a couple people on vacation and my daughter was just starting antibiotics for bronchitis that I had no choice but to drag her to work with me. I showed up with a portable DVD player, art supplies, and every other quiet distraction I could find. I had snacks. I had pillow and blankets to build her up a little “bed” in my office. The kid was set. Most people didn’t know she was there.
Then, there are horror stories of kids coming in to their parent’s work and breaking copiers, drawing on important documents and generally making people want to pull their hair out. Those problems aren’t really the kids’ fault. It’s the parent’s.
The problem with pets in the office is never the pet. It’s the owner who brings in a pet that isn’t suited to the office, or who doesn’t take responsibility of the animal once it gets there. Sure, puppies are adorable. They can bring a smile to your face if you get to pat their head or rub their belly. But no one likes picking up other people’s messes, doesn’t matter how cute it is.
The pet really isn’t up for debate here. The professional is.