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The Office Has Gone to the Dogs

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Bolt is not impressed with Charles Epstein's dog-loathing rant. 

Apparently there are a good many people who think it’s a good idea to welcome dogs into the workplace. What decent person with a beating heart could possibly object to having a cute, furry critter around to pet and play with? And for dog owners, what a great perk! You get to have your buddy keep you company during work hours, with the added benefit of coming back to a poop-free home. A win-win.

I hate to be a killjoy, but I think this is a terrible idea. Let me begin by confessing that I am not a dog person. To many, this is a moral defect, but you must understand that growing up, I was terrified of dogs and I never quite lost that fear. Hopefully that makes my distaste a bit more understandable and sympathetic, though I must also confess that I’ve always wondered how otherwise civilized people could let them in the house after stamping around the yard or street, coax them onto the couch or, egads, their bed, and live with them as quasi-equals. I was once at a party and an otherwise intelligent woman was speaking rapturously about her dog and the unqualified love it gave her. “Have you ever looked into its eyes, I mean, really looked?” I asked. “There’s nothing there! What you construe as love is merely a transactional attachment.” She was not pleased; I didn’t win many friends at that particular gathering.

But my anti-Take-Your-Dog-to-Work position is not entirely based on my aversion to your adorable pet dog. It’s based on my opposition to cats, which is clearly where this will lead. It’s a slippery slope from Rover to Boots, and who knows where else? Hamsters? Rabbits? Snakes? The mind reels. But for the moment, let’s focus on cats. Now, I actually admire cats — I admire their independence, lack of neediness, stellar hygiene, stealth and mystique. I just happen to be violently allergic. If I walk into a home or apartment where a cat once dwelled — it could have been years ago — it’s an instant asthma attack. And I am not alone, as there are tens of thou-sands — probably many more — just like me who wouldn’t last five minutes in an office with a cat lounging in the vicinity.

And don’t get me started on anything in the rodent or reptile family. I live in South Florida, which is a veritable minefield, as we’ve essentially displaced the native population of things that go bump in the night. A casual stroll around the neighborhood can easily turn into a nightmarish nature show. We once had an alligator mosey up to our front door, just to look around and chill for a bit before slithering back from whence it came — which should give you an idea of what it’s like living in Florida.

If you are a dog lover, please don’t take this personally. I am sure your dog is terrific company and has many admirable qualities. I’d go so far as to admit that there are dogs I’d rather spend quality time with than some people I’ve known. I just don’t think they belong at a place of work where your staff is forced to compete for love and attention. As any human resources person will tell you, there are only so many bellies you can rub in a given day.

About the Author 

Charles Epstein Bio Image

Charles Epstein is president and founder of BackBone Inc. Follow him on Twitter. 

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