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Discussion on: Office Dogs

amcaplan profile image
Ariel Caplan • Edited on

Someone's gotta be the Debbie Downer here, so:

I volunteer!

True story: Once upon a time, my family and I moved across an ocean to a faraway land. We were going to stay at some family initially, and then move into a more permanent location. We reached our destination... and a few hours later we were in an emergency clinic because my 5-months-pregnant wife couldn't breathe. The reason: They have cats, and apparently she's deathly allergic to them.

I get the idea of offices being baby- and child-friendly. Yes, it creates distractions for people (though it wouldn't if open-office plans weren't standard!) but it allows parents to have a sane work-life balance, lets moms get back to work while breastfeeding exclusively, lets parents not miss a day of work if kids are sick, etc. No one's saying it's good because it "raises spirits" or whatever nonsense. It's a practical accommodation that, yes, hurts the workplace somewhat but at the same time makes it a more humane environment, which is more important.

Having dogs in the office isn't about making the environment more humane. It's about preferring certain people's definition of fun over others' comfort. I strongly questioned whether I'd take my current job (at a company I love enough to have stuck with for the last 3+ years!) because there was an office dog. I'm not against people having dogs in their homes. Put whatever you want in your home, what do I care? But leave it there. I have no interest in smelling the dog, listening to it bark or growl, getting licked by the animal against my will, and thank goodness I'm not allergic because that's more important than everything else combined.

I'm not comfortable around dogs, never have been, never will. There are a lot of people like me. And no one wants to be the person who says "Yeah, I'd love to come work with you, but I'm allergic to dogs" or "I'm not comfortable around dogs, so ditch the animal and I'll join your team." Most people who aren't comfortable around dogs just won't want to come to work for you.

And honestly, of all the things we do as an industry to alienate people and unnecessarily thin out our candidate pool, this is probably the easiest to fix.

Then there's the other problem, that it's eventually going to happen that a new hire or a client comes to the office and goes into anaphylactic shock because they didn't realize it was a pet-friendly office and they're allergic to dogs/cats/whatever. Here's a not-lethal-but-still-horrible story: (you can get a sense of it from the URL...)

The only exception I'd make is for service dogs. It is VERY important that we figure out how to accommodate people who need service dogs. Because that is actually about creating a humane environment.

P.S. Drop me a unicorn if you agree, comment if you think I'm off my rocker here.

EDIT: Apparently you can only leave unicorns for post authors, and this is just a comment, so hearts only. I'm super bummed now.

amcaplan profile image
Ariel Caplan

So this wasn't even my original thought, but apparently dog-friendly offices are likely harming their diversity efforts: African Americans, people middle-aged and above, and women are all more likely than young white dudes to be afraid of dogs.


You can see pull quotes on this Twitter thread: