by Jesse Holth –
Humans and pets have lived together for tens of thousands of years: the earliest known burial with humans and dogs dates back to 14,000 years ago. Possibly the first example of pet-human bonding, the relationship has flourished ever since. Recently, this strong emotional connection has crossed over into the workplace. An increasing number of people across North America are bringing their pets to work. This new trend reflects a stronger focus on maintaining work-life balance – a way to maximize employee health and happiness, while boosting productivity. It’s important to maintain a safe work environment for everyone, which often means checking that no one has allergies or other issues with a potential pet workmate – up to 30% of the population is allergic. But bringing pets to work can be beneficial for everyone, not just their owners.
Experts say that pets in the workplace can reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, and boost teamwork. Their presence can increase communication and socialization – this heightened sense of collaboration leads to greater employee satisfaction, efficiency, and creative problem-solving. Studies have shown that non-pet owners also receive the same stress-reduction benefits: pets in the workplace have a calming effect, and even reduce blood pressure. It’s crucial to have rules in place regarding pet behaviour, cleanliness and professionalism, but having pets around in a work environment can be an enjoyable experience. Around the Saanich Peninsula, there are many individuals and businesses doing just that.
Meet the people and pets taking part locally:
Julie Coward, of Holy Cow Communication Design, says it would have been a deal-breaker if they couldn’t bring their golden retriever, Reuben, to the office. They moved into the Cannery Building when it first opened, and Reuben quickly developed his “favourite” people – especially the ones who brought him cookies. “Over the years, Reuben provided comfort to us and our growing staff,” she says. “He greeted everyone that came to the door.” When Reuben passed away, Truman came into their lives. He soon “took the lead in what were Reuben’s duties: staff support and official door greeter,” says Julie. “Truman takes Ken and I for a walk at lunch – if there is a challenge, it’s to convince him [that] 11 a.m. is too early for a lunchtime walk.” She says there has been “a rare person” being put off by the office dog, but “a few people come into our office only to meet with him!”
At Simply Cremations and Funeral Services, there are “comfort kitties” to assist grieving family members (above). Tucker and Tiki are the current companions, and funeral director Leslie Duncan says “most people are really pleased with them.” She describes how perceptive they are, explaining that “they sense which people need comfort” and go straight over to them, often sitting on their laps. Leslie says there have been very few issues in the past seven years. In fact, some people come just to see the cats – “they have a fan club,” she jokes. Tucker, who turned eight years old on April 23, is especially good with his emotional intuition: he always knows exactly who to go to. “It’s pretty amazing,” Leslie says.
Dave, a black lab, was the “hotel dog” at Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa for many years. He was a constant sight upon entering the hotel, and functioned as a “greeter dog” for arriving hotel guests. Natalie King, the General Manager, says he had the perfect qualities that made him “an excellent fit for a hotel dog – he was gentle, friendly, loving and social.” Natalie says they were “very lucky to find Dave,” and that he had a rich life. He went into retirement a few years ago, moving into Grant Rogers’ house, the owner of the hotel. Dave passed away peacefully two years ago, at 13 years old. “He was a special pet, and impacted the lives of all who knew him.”