Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dogs: Smiles and/or Allergies?

I love being a dog owner, but I am well aware that not everyone feels the way about our furry friends. So when I read that last Friday was "Take Your Dog to Work Day," I had mixed feelings.

On the one hand, as someone whose mental and physical health has benefited from a house dog, I love the idea of a dog friendly work space like the Etsy corporate offices have. On the other hand, I find myself worrying about how employees or potential hirees with allergies manage. Are you just out of luck if you are allergic to dogs and want to work for Etsy or Amazon?

The irony of the timing is that I just got done updating my Etsy product listings to clarify that we have a dog in our house. Although I do my best to keep him from coming into contact with any products, air still moves allergens around and I want anyone with a serious dog allergy to be informed. As part of figuring out the best wording, I solicited opinions from my facebook circles, knowing that there were both dog experts and allergy sufferers to weigh in. The ensuing conversation was really informative and helpful.

Now, as best as I can tell (and assume true, based on US laws), the companies in the Parade article are not letting dogs run around their factories--the work environments impacted are offices, not manufacturing companies. So you don't need to worry about food being contaminated with dog hair. But as someone who has other sorts of allergies, I find myself thinking about the employees who might not benefit from the situation. That said, HR departments exists for exactly reasons like this, so if the policies have been in place for so long, they must have a working arrangement.

And while I would never expect to be allowed to take my dog with me everywhere, I am always grateful and pleased when I can. Last week we took Mateo to the local bookshop (after calling ahead to confirm the rules), and it was so fun to see his excitement and also how much the employees LOVED seeing him!

I get similar reactions when I take Mateo on walks. I never presume that I'm walking past a dog person and keep Mateo's leash short when we pass others--but Mateo adores people and wags his tail and grins at them, and most of the time they beam back a matching grin, and you can tell their walk was just made. And that fills my heart with such joy. I love, love, love spreading smiles.

In short, I really want my impact on people's lives to be one that makes them better. Sometimes that means bringing in Mateo--and other times that means leaving him in the kennel. And sometimes, just sharing some cute photos on social media is a happy middle ground.

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