Today it’s #BringYourDogToWorkDay. It must be wonderful if we get the chance – rather than leaving our best friends at home, feeling the familiar tug as they paw at our hearts. I can imagine it must get quite hectic looking after our doggy companions in a work environment, trying to complete a long list of tasks whilst they energetically bound about but I suspect it is also relaxing – studies have found that having your dog in the workplace reduces stress and boosts morale.
My dogs come to work with me every day as fortunately I don’t leave the house to go to work, I work from home in my office. When I say office, an image of a quiet, calm, uncluttered working space probably comes to mind but at the moment my office is chaotic, disorganised and shamefully messy. Let me tell you why.
We have two wonderful dogs. Lolpop who is thirteen and part Collie, part Terrier and Logan Montgomery Ross who is part Labrador, part Patterdale. Lolpop is affectionate, placid, loyal, and even at her age still incredibly playful – up for a game of ball or frisbee as soon as she sees you put on your jacket or pull on your wellies – but she’s always fringed with a little anxiety, too, a throwback no doubt to the trauma she experienced in the days before we rescued her.
Logan turned twelve weeks old yesterday. We have known him since the day he arrived in this world with tiny closed eyes and an adorable squishy face, taking quiet trips to see him snuggled with his mum and siblings every couple of days and he has lived with us since eight weeks old. He’s thoughtful, often weighing up a situation before he attacks it, loving and affectionate, intelligent, a quick learner and full of joy and mischief.
It’s one of the reasons my office/study is now such a mess. When we only had Lolpop, carving out time to work was ludicrously easy. Lopop has always been a vocal dog, but has never been particularly demanding. If she has food in her belly, a few short walks a day, plenty of new stories to sniff out and ample enough opportunity to play, she is generally happy. At home she is golden, and has always been, not remotely interested in chewing anything or trying desperately to ‘kill’ inanimate objects. So it has been quite a shock to have a puppy join us who is essentially a little scamp.
I honestly thought, for the first week, which shows my utter naivety I suppose, that I could still get quite a lot of work completed by the end of each day. Logan for those first seven days slept on my foot under my desk, often for hour upon hour, only waking for forty five short minutes at a time. He rarely sleeps under the desk now, but I do miss his warm, soft, fury little body curled around my foot or gently nibbling my toes.
After the first week, it became more difficult to finish things, especially when it appeared Logan wanted to work with me, preferably sitting on my lap watching my fingers flutter up and down the keyboard. Books, which seem to be a favourite of his – on a number of occasions I’ve glimpsed him walking off with P.G Wodehouse or Sherlock Holmes clamped in his mouth – rather than being read or referenced or filled with the usual sticky notes – were soon being piled one on top of each other to prevent him taking chunks out of their delicate insides.
The office is more puppy proof than it has ever been but rumbustious little pups will find something. A pad of paper that unbeknown to you has fallen to the floor and now his sloppy jaws have watered down your notes, the contents of the waste-paper bin spilled across the carpet, a box of tissues on the windowsill – he’s not upset, he is just going to soak up his slobber, the spine of your diary. I left jacket on my chair to find it has acquired a new pattern of teeth marks.
What I have discovered is you have to work fast if you have a puppy. Faster than you have ever worked before. Unlike a baby, who if they had a nap, would probably not climb out of their pram an hour later and try and eat a chair leg, with a puppy nothing is off the table. At the moment, we have settled into a routine of about an hour of play – and if dry so this hour includes a spot of running around the garden with Lolpop, then Logan is stupendously happy – usually followed by an hour and a half to a two hour nap. Of course, tiring him out is key, no puppy will have a nap if not sufficiently sleepy – I don’t know how I would manage without a garden for him to play in – especially when he goes into what we call manic puppy mode – usually for about half an hour before he falls asleep, almost like he is over-stimulated and has to purge all of his excess energy.
It would be fair to say Logan has made me more productive, although for the first two weeks this wasn’t the case, my output being at an all time low, and he has helped me re-evaluate time and learn how to utilize it more effectively. Time is precious when I sit down and start banging those keys at the speed of light but equally, if not more precious are the many tea breaks taken up the garden each day, accompanied by two wonderful dogs, and a large bag of tennis balls. After all, I might bring my dogs to work every day but my dogs make sure they get enough time off.