I HAVE a confession to make: I am not a dog lover. And given that yesterday was Bring Your Dog to Work Day, I have spent the week on tenterhooks, wondering if one of my colleagues would take part in this annual event and subject me to their pooch’s presence.
I’ve nothing against them, personally, as long as they keep out of my way.
It’s a bit like my attitude towards other people’s small children: on the condition that they don’t paw me, produce bodily fluids when they shouldn’t or expect me to feed them or pat them on the head, then fine, I don’t mind them being around.
It’s the fact that the things insist on leaping up on me when they see me, ripping my legs to shreds and baring their teeth, while their owners stand by smiling beatifically and saying comforting things like: “Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you. He’s just showing that he likes you.” And that’s just the kids.
I realise that taking a public position as a pooch hater is not going to win me many friendships – in fact, it might well harm my future employment chances, not least with my editor, who is a big fan of our canine companions.
A survey conducted as part of Bring Your Dog to Work Day claims that 17 per cent of dog-friendly employers would seriously consider not hiring someone like me – a person who admitted their dislike of our furry friends. Oh dear.
Indeed, my editor has been quoted in this very paper as a dog lover. A number of years ago, on the whim of a head of features who had one of those crazy-but-it-worked ideas, he went head-to-head with acclaimed Scotsman columnist Bill Jamieson – a confirmed cat man – in an article debating which was the best animal. It’s one of the most fascinating pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen, not least because of the photograph, which depicted Bill, with a big fluffy cat on his lap, looking exactly like Dr Evil, but with more hair. At weekends, the boss has occasionally brought his dog into the office. It’s a very nice dog, as these things go. Brown, friendly looking. Not too smelly.
But while even I have to admit that seeing a canine figure pad through the open plan brightened up a quiet shift on occasion, I would be constantly terrified if there was the risk of one coming into the office every day. I’d have to change my entire wardrobe so that it didn’t include tights, for starters.
However, driven, presumably, by trendy ad agencies in London, where these kinds of things usually start, it is apparently quite a common occurrence across the UK. On a regular basis, the company behind the survey – pet food brand Barking Heads – claims a quarter of dog owners say they occasionally take their pets into their workplace.
Three quarters of regular office pooches have their own space or dog bed at their owner’s place of work, while one in four dog-owning employees even bring their animal to external meetings with them. I actually remember one meeting with a PR company around ten years ago, at which there was a fluffy white pooch wandering around. It was quite a novelty, introduced, apparently, by the somewhat eccentric head of the firm as a talking point to break the ice.
This all sounds great in theory, but sorry, dog people. In practice, I just don’t get it.
I’m not allowed to bring my toddler to work, or my elderly neighbour – both of whom could probably benefit from my company during the day, but would probably make my working life more than a little tricky.
There was a taxi company in London which made a BBC documentary about a shortlived experiment to allow its office-based employees to bring their babies into work, as long as they sat quietly in a car seat under the desk – but I’m not sure that worked out too well. Too much screaming while people were trying to book cabs, apparently.
Perhaps dogs are different to babies, but they’re going to have to prove themselves before I accept them enough to invite them to after-work drinks. I truly believe, that if they are going to come into our workplaces, our canine friends need to start pulling their weight.
Surely, if they are as intelligent as their owners claim, they could be taught to make tea – or do a spot of filing. That I’d like to see. I might even bring myself to give them a pat – or even a doggy biscuit – if they did a good job.