|Article Author: Scott Rose|
Inspiring awareness of shelter dogs by Scott Rose
Take Your Dog to Work Day is a day made for pets, and their owners. Pet Sitters International have been promoting the worthwhile event since its inception on June 25, 1999. In this Chinese year of the dog, Take Your Dog to Work Day falls on June 23rd. If the name of the holiday summons images of a Pekingese using a Blackberry, a Dalmatian in a hard hat climbing a utility pole, and a Maltese in Prada dog sunglasses barking orders from a Hollywood director's chair, then you've understood the lighter-hearted side of the day.
Yet Take Your Dog to Work Day also has serious canine-thropic intent. The hope is that the day will encourage people to adopt shelter dogs, whose fates in the absence of loving humans adopting them is too wretched to be articulated in these pages. I spoke with John Long of Pet Sitters International to learn more about Take Your Dog to Work Day.
What is the purpose of Take Your Dog to Work Day?
JL: Pet Sitter International's Take Your Dog to Work Day provides a chance for people in the workplace to be inspired by the very special human-canine bond. We help businesses to partner with local shelters and pet sitters in a concerted effort to save shelter dogs. It's so sad that millions of dogs are destroyed yearly; this is our way of alleviating the terrible problem.
How can interested people get started?
JL: By going to www.petsit.com, clicking on the Take Your Dog to Work Day button and then downloading the appropriate Action Pack. With forms, checklists, tips and instructions, our Action Packs help structure your Take Your Dog to Work Day event. There are distinct Action Packs for businesses, shelters and pet sitters.
What kinds of businesses participate?
JL: A huge variety of businesses participate, actually. Advertising and graphic firms, medical groups, city governments, real estate offices, car manufacturers, doctors, dentists and universities; these and more have held very successful Take Your Dog to Work Days. And our reach is international. I can't think of an American state which has not had an event, and there have been numerous participants in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and England. There have even been inquiries about events from non-English speaking countries; France, for instance. We don't care about a dog's nationality; we just want to celebrate man's best friend.
What if an individual wants to observe Take Your Dog to Work Day but it simply isn't possible for them to have an event in their workplace?
JL: It's of course true that there are some businesses unable to hold an event. Yet we do, naturally, encourage people to raise their co-workers' awareness of the wonderful companionship dogs can offer and the urgent need for saving shelter dogs. People can place photos of their favorite pets on their desks. And we have available on our site a stuffed "Office Puppy" sporting a stylish dog t-shirt with a Take Your Dog to Work Day logo. We also have colorful, "Every Dog Has Its Day" bracelets as well as t-shirts for humans bearing the image of Hoover, our 2006 poster dog. We furthermore encourage businesses to hold fund-raisers for local shelters. People can do that even though they aren't able to give an actual Take Your Dog to Work Day event.
How is the poster dog chosen?
JL: People can find complete information about entering their dogs in the poster dog contest on our site. Our poster dogs have always been pooches adopted from shelters and that participated in a Take Your Dog to Work Day event.
What tips can you give people for having the greatest possible success with their Take Your Dog to Work Day event?
JL: Firstly, our Action Packs have complete check lists and instructions based on our experience that will help people in organizing their events. We do encourage businesses to have one person be the event coordinator. It is important that people consider the suitability of their dog to the workplace. Obviously, dogs should have all their vaccinations and be flea free as well as groomed and bathed. Beyond that, they should be sociable. If you know that you have an unusually timid or aggressive dog, it is probably best that he not be given the challenge of having to behave all day at work. Then too, the workplace should be puppy proofed. Care must be taken, for example, that there be no poisonous plants accessible to dogs.
It's best to bring a little care kit containing treats, water, and, just in case, clean-up supplies. Another "just in case" scenario would involve a dog who for one reason or another was not adjusting well to the day. For that eventuality, people should have a pre-planned exit strategy. You also want to give some thought to allowing time for the dogs to be taken outside. Often, a local pet sitter or shelter employee will volunteer time to help make your event a success. You must, additionally, have sensitivity towards coworkers' feelings about dogs, as the goal of the event is to inspire people by demonstrating to them the joys of the human-dog bond.
What kinds of things do people do to make their events especially memorable?
JL: People have a lot of fun with this. Some hold doggie fashion shows, others "best trick" contests, and still others canine athletic competitions. Have you received any expressions of enthusiasm about Take Your Dog to Work Day events from employers who had been unsure whether to hold one? We have received only positive feedback about Take Your Dog to Work Day events. And it says something that many, many companies hold events year after year.
Who participates with you in promoting these events?
JL: I'm proud to say that this year, Modern Dog magazine is supporting our efforts to save shelter dogs through Take Your Dog to Work Day events. Pets 911, a wonderful organization, is also involved. Their site has a shelter finder that lets visitors locate shelters by zip code. They have a useful guide to adopting dogs that I highly recommend.
Where might people find images of past Bring Your Dog to Work Day events?
JL: Our site's Media Center page has two relevant video clips. And Village Green has a site dedicated to their canine games events.
What might you say is emblematic of the spirit of Take Your Dog to Work Day?
JL: Not what, but rather who. Chloe the pit bull terrier, who has gone to work with her mom at the Village Green Company. She is such a marvelous representative of her breed; sweet, loving, well-tempered. Pit bulls have a bad reputation and when they are trained in a manner that encourages aggressiveness, that is not necessarily a good thing. But a properly raised and trained pit bull can make a devoted, affectionate, lovable pet. Chloe loves to play, she loves to cuddle, she loves to get dressed up in princess dog outfits. Her mom adopted her from a shelter, and for that reason I say she is emblematic of the spirit of Take Your Dog to Work Day. She shows what a wonderful canine companion a shelter dog can make. Beyond that, I'll repeat our official motto. "Partnering together, we can make a difference for dogs." We aim to get the community involved. It's all about people helping people for the sake of dogs. When we can come together in this positive way, we have a significant impact on the well-being of shelter dogs.
I also communicated with Monica McGinnis, human companion to Hoover, this year's poster dog for Take Your Dog to Work Day. She gives this heartwarming testimony about the benefits of adopting.
"Hoover is a shining example of the importance of pet rescue. Three lives (Hoover's, his brother's and his mother's) would have been terribly wasted by euthanization had Our Lady of Mercy Catnip Cottage rescue organization not taken in his mom pregnant with her two puppies. Hoover brings joy to our family every day. He is playful, funny, spunky, affectionate, and most definitely handsome. He wakes me up with puppy kisses every morning and he goes to bed giving me kisses every night. His adoption description stated "free with kisses" and he has lived up to that description 100%. I feel so incredibly lucky to have found this special companion. Even Hoover's vet is wearing his Take Your Dog to Work Day t-shirt. I appreciate the efforts of Pet Sitter's International to dedicate this day to promoting pet rescue. Hopefully, many other dogs will find forever-loving homes because of this effort."
In closing, I'll paraphrase Pet Sitter International's question about whether it's fitting to take a dog to work. Have you ever heard anybody say that they worked like a cat?