Working like a dog

Published Jun 26, 2013 at 7:50 am (Updated Jun 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm)

The phrase “working like a dog” took on a whole new meaning June 21 as companies across the U.S. opened their doors to pooches for Pet Sitters International’s 15th Annual Take Your Dog To Work Day.

Held each year on the first Friday after Father’s Day, the unofficial holiday was created to celebrate dogs at work and to promote pet adoptions.

Local participants this year included the Law Offices of Christine M. Seymour, located on Potomac Avenue in Dormont, and Robinson Library. It was the second year for both.

“Both Library Director Sharon Helfrich and I are dog lovers, and when I looked up the date for TYDTW Day, we were excited to participate,” said Assistant Library Director Jill Antoline of Stowe Township, who brought just one of her dogs, Simon, a chihuahua mix, to work that day. Helfrich, who is from Emsworth, brought both of her pugs, Portia and Pugsley, with her. They were the only two library employees out of a staff of five to spend the day with their dogs.

Christine Seymour decided that her office would participate again this year, although it wasn’t much of a stretch for her as her dog, Zephyr, a biewer terrier, accompanies her to work most every day. On Friday, however, her husband, Mike, who is also an attorney, brought his dog, Shelby, a German shepherd. Mike’s main office is downtown in the Grant Building, but he sees clients at the Dormont office on occasion. The couple recently moved to Bethel Park and planned on allowing both dogs to “work” the entire day.

“Walks and playtimes are provided so everyone is pretty content all day,” said Christine. “It’s a great experience for everyone. If anything, everyone works harder so that everything gets done despite the walks and playtimes.”

Antoline said last year, she and Helfrich kept their dogs in Helfrich’s office with a baby gate in the doorway, and it worked well. “The dogs get to see what is going on in the library and patrons are welcome to stop over and say hello. We also walk them around the library to visit with patrons, especially kids,” said Antoline.

Last year, the dogs only “worked” a half-day before being picked up by family members. “I think we were more exhausted than they were!” Antoline said. This time around, she planned on keeping Simon with her all day.

It is a well-known fact that pet ownership can reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. But, a preliminary study conducted last year by Virginia Commonwealth University also found that employees who bring their dogs to work produced lower levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. And, not only have employees reported increased job satisfaction, but dogs make the job more satisfying for others who come in contact with them.

And neither Seymour or Antoline have encountered any problems with bringing the dogs to work.

“I find that generally, people who take their dogs with them into public tend to be responsible pet owners who do not subject their dogs to situations they can’t handle,” said Christine, adding that many of their clients contact them because they have seen her walking her dog around town and are “pet people” themselves.

“Thankfully, we haven’t had any complaints, but no patron has to interact with the dogs if they don’t want to,” said Antoline, adding that the dogs are just excited to sniff around and meet new people, and the dogs all seemed to get along. “We try to keep a close eye on the dogs and paper towels handy, just in case.”

PSI is unable to track the number of TYDTWDay participants, but its website,, had more than 287,000 visitors this year – almost triple the amount of web traffic it experienced the previous year.

When asked if the library would consider allowing employees to bring their dogs to work every day, Antoline replied, “The Robinson Township Library can be very busy with programs and patrons that need assistance, so owners and dogs would agree that our dogs are happiest at home where they can sleep and play all day.”

And while Christine does bring Zephyr with her to work most days, she doubts that every day would work, as they often have out-of-office obligations. She would, however, consider every Friday and/or holidays.

“Everyone thought it was cute to have the dogs around and very sweet to see how excited the kids would get when they saw dogs in the library,” said Antoline. “Our productivity level may be a little lower than normal, but when the dogs and patrons are happy, we consider that a job well done.”

“My dog is more than a pet; he is a family member. I know that many people feel the same. TYPTWDay is a great opportunity for people to see just how beneficial it can be to allow dogs to be brought to the workplace/public places,” remarked Christine. “It not only is a great thing for the employees, it may even attract potential clients/customers who also love their pets.”

Christine says the key to bringing a dog to work is responsibility. “If your dog is uncomfortable being in an office all day or having people come and go, then perhaps going to work just isn’t the best thing for the dog.”

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