Thankful for you — every day of the year

thanks

Thanksgiving Day is a day off for most of us, but for many of you who own pet care businesses, it marks the beginning of one of the busiest weekends of the year.  

Which brings me to my thought and message for the beginning of the holiday season.

This year my family did something very different for Thanksgiving.  We all (40+ of us) had our dinner at a country club where my cousins are members. There was a ton of perfect food and excellent service, all in a gorgeous setting in a very posh area of Chicago.

And while we were enjoying not having to cook, clean, etc., I kept thinking about how everyone on the service team – from the valets to the chefs – were not at home with their families.

I asked our server if she had dinner yet.

You know how she replied?

“Wow, thanks. No I haven’t. You are the only person here who thought to ask. That was really nice of you.”

Ugh.

I remember the years and countless missed dinners, holidays, parties, weddings, and funerals as a pet sitter. My friends and family hardly understood and, truth be told, I hadn’t ever really weighed that consideration as I built my pet care businesses. It was a struggle. But I recall the clients who left me special gifts and notes knowing I was with their pets so that they could be with their families. And that made all the difference.

So what I want to say is:

 I see you.

I respect you.

I admire you.

And I understand.

You – and your team – are my pet care heroes.

Be proud, because pet professionals like you provide an extraordinarily valuable service. Your hard work and dedication allow millions of people to have enjoyable and relaxing holidays knowing their pets are in capable hands.

Hang tight for this holiday season. You got this. And FetchFind is here if you need anything at all.

With great respect,

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

 

Misreading the signals

whisperBy Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

The other day when I came to the office with Whisper and Mimsy, I was looking forward to getting a lot of work done. I had a marketing meeting in the morning, a podcast recording in the early afternoon, and conference calls sandwiched in between (not to mention my WiSTEM homework).  Before I had even settled in at my desk, Whisper decided to start barking. She barked at young mother walking by with a stroller. She barked at the UPS guy. She barked at the empty desk. She barked at her reflection. She had already done her business for the morning, she had been fed and watered, and it seemed to me that she was barking for no other reason than to keep me from getting my work done.

So what did I do? I got frustrated and raised my voice (more than once), which did absolutely nothing to stop the barking. Pretty soon everyone in the office was firmly asking her to stop, or trying to distract her with kissing noises, or just rolling their eyes and stuffing their earbuds in a little deeper.

Finally Paulette took charge of the situation and marched Whisper outside to see if that would break the pattern. As soon as she got to the nearest patch of dirt, Whisper peed a river (in spite of having done exactly that a half hour earlier). And then the entire office full of dog trainers felt a bit sheepish for 1) having misread the clear signals that she needed to use the facilities, and 2) getting irritated with her for it.

What is the moral of this story?

No matter how many years of dog experience you have, you’re still going to miss, or misread, the cues once in a while. You get distracted, then you get annoyed, and finally you get to the point where you are so aggravated that you aren’t seeing anything clearly because none of the usual triggers seem to be at the root of the problem.

But dogs aren’t robots – just because they did their business a half hour ago doesn’t mean they won’t need to go again, or that the noise which never bothered them before isn’t going to make them freak out on this particular day, or that the food they digested with ease for five years isn’t suddenly going to give them terrible gas during your investor meeting (there are occasional downsides to having dogs in the office). 

If you have dogs, all of these things will happen to you – whether you are a pet professional or not – and you just have to accept that you misread the signals, file the information away for future reference, and move on. For those of you who have aging or infirm dogs, the cues will change more rapidly. To read the signals correctly, sometimes you have to put aside what you expect the dog to do and act upon the information right in front of your nose.

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Dogs in the Workplace – Part 4

 

dog collage

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

So now comes the part where I am supposed to tell you about the Best Breeds for the Workplace.

Well….it’s not that easy (nothing ever is).  Before you take your dog to the office, you should sit down and make a brutally honest list of your dog’s behaviors and idiosyncrasies.  You will have to consider not only what your dog will tolerate, but what your coworkers will tolerate as well.  If you have a friendly old bulldog who can fall asleep anywhere and not wake up until feeding time, that’s a good candidate for the office.  If you have a super-smart and energetic Jack Russell who is capable of doing this, you might not want to leave him cooped up in an office while you are in a four-hour planning meeting.

These are some of the more undesirable traits for an office dog:

  • Territoriality  – you don’t want your dog running off everyone who steps over his invisible perimeter line.
  • Inside voice – you don’t want your dog to announce every distant footfall with endless minutes of shrill yapping.
  • Incontinence – nobody will thank you for a dog that marks every doorjamb in the building, or lifts his leg on the potted plants in the lobby.

These are some of the behaviors that will make a dog a good candidate for the office:

  • Sociability – a dog that can greet just about everyone with equanimity is always going to be an office favorite.
  • Resilience – if your dog can adapt quickly to noises, intrusions, and a parade of different people without getting anxious or fearful, you’ve got a winner.
  • Quiet, calm behavior – if you have a dog that doesn’t mind being crated or tethered as long as she has a kong or a favorite toy with her, your own work day will be much less anxiety-filled.

Let’s look at some of the dogs that we have had in our office over the years:

  • Whisper (senior collie) – she’s calm and relatively sociable, without being demanding. She will bark when she sees strangers in the hallway, but she won’t refuse entry. When she’s had enough, she’ll go into another office and take a nap.
  • Mimsy (senior collie) – she’s calm and very sociable, without being pushy. She’ll wander the room and check things out, and has no problem with climbing onto the sofa and sharing space with a stranger.
  • Sitka (senior Newfie/Malamute) – he’s calm, friendly, and doesn’t mind complete strangers fawning all over him.  When he’s had enough socializing, he’ll sack out in another room.
  • Mo (Leonberger puppy) – Mo, in addition to being the fastest-growing puppy in the world, is also the most work when she’s in the office. She needs frequent potty breaks (and we have to clean up after her immediately if she potties on the floor) and a fair amount of space management (crating, tethering, and baby-gating). And, because she’s a puppy, she is responsible for more loss in productivity than any of the other dogs just because she is so stinkin’ cute. The upside of all of the attention is that she is already well-socialized and easy to handle, which is setting her up to be a great pet and successful adult dog.
  • Eddie (adult pit bull/Rhodesian Ridgeback) – the best word to describe Eddie is aloof. He isn’t very sociable and tends to take exception to stranger dogs and people in the office. Even with people he knows, he isn’t super-friendly. Because his temperament is more unpredictable, we have to be pretty strict about his space management, both around people and other dogs. (We eventually decided that bringing him to the office wasn’t the best thing for him, so now he stays home.)
  • Murray (adult King Charles Cavalier Spaniel/Bichon Frise – aka Cavachon) – he’s not as nap-prone as Whisper, Mimsy, and Sitka, but he is extremely friendly and curious.  He’s also a smaller dog, and because of his size his more enthusiastic greetings don’t become problematic. 
  • Hobo (adult Yorkie-Pom) – he’s polite to strangers and overall fairly calm and non-reactive. However, he doesn’t have a 100% success record with potty training, so he requires more management and clean-up. (Read more about Hobo’s heritage here.)

Follow us on Instagram at @dogs_of_fetchfind to see more pups in the office and around town!

No matter which dogs are in the office, all of the humans are always alert to the need for management or intervention. We can put dogs behind closed doors or into crates if necessary, and run them out for a walk if a situation starts to get out of hand. We also have a daily schedule of which dogs will be in the office, so that we know in advance what to expect (and who to leave at home).

What you can see from the list of some of our “resident” dogs is that there is no one breed that is necessarily more suitable to an office setting than another.  It all depends on the type of office, the tolerance of your co-workers, and how your dog is likely to handle the ever-changing stimuli.  And just remember – if you’re ever in doubt about whether or not your dog will be able to handle the office, it’s probably better to leave him at home.

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Read the rest of the series – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

 

 

Dogs in the Workplace – Part 3

DW3

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Here we are, with our next installment of Working [Literally] with Your Dog.

In Part 2, we covered the burning questions one should ask prior to making an all-out decision about bringing Fido to work. You feel that you have thoroughly examined and evaluated all the questions and the angles about the decision…this is where I come in. I’m here to give you the real dirt: the pros and cons of having dogs in the workplace.

Because I consider myself to be more of an optimist, I’m going to start out with the pros.

A quick caveat: What I’ve learned from working with dogs for the past 20 years is that generalizations are just that – generalizations. Every dog and every situation is simply a case of one. So, although you’ll see me do the deep dive into the pros and cons, it may be that your dog would not react or respond to the situations as I have them listed here.

Pros:

  • Dogs are awesome. When you’re stressed, dogs are a great distraction. Dogs are also what I would call the great equalizer. In a potentially highly charged exchange, a dog could bring peace to an otherwise non-peaceful situation.
  • Dogs give you a reason to get out of the office to get some fresh air and stretch your legs every few hours.
  • Dogs are great icebreakers for officemates who may be shy or new to the environment.
  • Dogs demonstrate, quite beautifully, how to chill out under unusual circumstances.
  • A dog-friendly office implies that your business is cutting-edge, flexible and accommodating.
  • The dog-friendly office sets the tone for getting involved in animal-friendly philanthropic endeavors.
  • If your entire office is comprised of dog lovers, then it’s something to bring the team together.
  • Dog lovers “get” other dog lovers. If there is someone in your office with whom you have a personality conflict, dogs offer a wonderful reason to connect.

Ahhh. Aren’t you feeling so inspired now to make the change to a dog-friendly office? Hold on there… Now comes the hammer.

Cons:

  • Dogs stink. Pooping and farting come with the “I’m a dog” territory.
  • Dogs bark. And sometimes, they bark really, really, really loudly. Sometimes they bark a lot.  
  • Visitors to your office may not have the same affinity for dogs. Some of those visitors may be clients (and clients pay the bills).
  • Allergies. Enough said.
  • You can expect at least a 10-20% decrease in productivity. Between walking, feeding, watering, picking up toys, cleaning up accidents and simply admiring and talking about the different things the dogs are doing throughout the day causes quite the distraction.
  • Last, but not least: your liability. I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately, the odds are not in your favor. We live with dogs that we love and admire, but some of those same dogs also bite. And even if your dog has never bitten anyone, that’s not to say that they never would. This is the biggest reason to think critically before bringing your dog into the office. You must ask yourself (and be honest about the answer) whether your dog has a stable temperament. Any signs of instability, anxiety or fear need to be closely examined before you bring your dog into a potentially high stress and inconsistent environment like a busy office.

The final con isn’t about you. In fact, it has nothing to do with you, but it has everything to do with what your dog wants and needs.

Did you know that most pet dogs require 16 hours of sleep per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Most people don’t realize this, but our pet-quality dogs are not bred to be able to maintain a frenetic daily schedule.

When I bring my dogs the office (yup – I do it at least three times a week), they spend 90% of the day sleeping in the dog beds I provide for them in my private office. Very rarely, if ever, do they spend the day walking around greeting and hanging out with people. They’d much rather be content and alone without having to deal with the stressors and conflict that come from interaction.

I have had a dog-friendly office for the better part of the last 18 years, and I will continue to maintain a dog-friendly office. But I’ve certainly become a lot smarter and a lot more aware of what is needed for the highest level of safety for my dogs and productivity for my team.

Bottom line – when you’re making a decision about bringing your dog to work, please think about whether it’s something that your dog would truly enjoy. Even though they love you, and may enjoy laying by your feet while you’re working from home or enjoying a barbecue in your backyard, that certainly doesn’t equate to them enjoying being away from home all day.

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Read the rest of the series! Dogs in the Office – Part 1 and Dogs in the Office – Part 2.

 

Dogs in the Workplace – Part 2

Mo
Mo likes to help us with the mail when she isn’t busy charming everyone in sight.

Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

An office dog can really lighten a workplace environment, but as I discussed last week there are some downsides to having dogs in the office; one particularly fragrant problem is poop in the office and the resulting loss of productivity. Today, I am going to discuss other initial things you should consider before allowing furry paws into the workplace.

First and foremost, are you already in an office space and considering bringing dogs into the space, or are you on the hunt for dog friendly office spaces?

If you already have the office space, you’re going to need to address and answer the following:

  • Does your office building allow dogs? Check your lease or management rules.
  • Is anyone in your office allergic?
  • Will your landlord require an additional security deposit?
  • Is there easy access or a dog run/area to let your pooch go potty?
  • Is the surface of your office floor easy to clean… just in case (See Dogs in the Workplace – Part 1)
  • Do you have the ability to confine a dog if someone visiting isn’t a crazy dog lover like you?

If you are looking for a dog friendly office space or already have one, you must also consider:

  • What types of activities do you (and your team) spend most of the time at the office doing? Meetings? Working independently?
  • Would a bark or two disrupt the flow, meetings, or phone calls?
  • Do you hold meetings with visiting clients?
  • Who gets to bring their dogs? Do you decide by seniority, pay grade, or cutest dog?
  • What types of limits or rules will you instate for employees regarding bringing their dogs to the office? If you’re the boss, you set the tone.
  • In that same spirit, what happens if the dogs in the office aren’t especially fond of each other?

Next week I will get detailed about the pros and cons of bringing those pups to the office.

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Dogs in the Workplace – Part 1

by Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

business dog typewriter

I have picked up more dog poop than you. In fact, probably more than you the person sitting next to you. And next to them. In fact, if I really sat back and thought about the sheer volume of dog crap I’ve had in my hands over the past 20 years, I’d be tempted to contact Guinness and lobby for a new category.

 The formerly mentioned dog poop came from the many dogs in all areas of my life, including, but not limited to dogs I walked during the Out-U-Go days or the dogs in my classroom while I trained with AnimalSense. Not to mention the hundreds of random dogs who have been through my homes, businesses and life in general. The one place, however that I truly despise the poop is in my office. You may be wondering why on earth I’d be picking up dog poop in my office, and to that I answer: What? You don’t? 

As the CEO of four different dog-related businesses over the past 20 years, dogs in the office have been a mainstay. And although I’ve loved each one of the hundreds of dogs that have crossed the threshold of the countless office spaces I’ve occupied, it’s recently dawned on me what all this excrement really costs: loss of productivity.  

Clearly, every time a dog has an accident, there is an impact on productivity as the ritual of poop pick up commences. Think plastic bags, paper towels and lots of disinfectant, not to mention the conversations everyone in the office needs to have about the stink.

The question is: do I need to reconsider the whole dog-in-the-office thing?

 Of course not!  I’m just pointing out what most dog-friendly businesses may be afraid to admit…we love dogs, but they take a quite a bit of time away from the workday, as we have to feed, water, walk and referee them. 

I haven’t taken the time to do any kind of longitudinal study on my observations but am convinced it’s a significant factor to consider as it relates to decreased productivity. 

Clearly poop isn’t a good enough reason to leave the dogs at home, but there are many other considerations when you dip your dog in the company ink. 

This is the first installment in my Dogs in the Workplace series- so I’ll leave you with visions dogs happily converging at the water cooler (read: bowl) whilst their dutiful human counterparts lovingly admire and thank the dog gods they work at a dog-friendly business. 

The jury is still out, and while I certainly have some opinion on the negatives, I can’t ever certify that they will outweigh the positives. 

Until then, please pass me a poop bag.

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The annual Take Your Dog to Work Day is June 24, 2016.

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