Friday, June 25, 2010

Take your dog to work day

Today, June 25, is take your dog to work dog.
My dog is not here at the office with me. Like many dogs, he is not quite cut out for the workplace. Scared of strangers and not fond of other male dogs, he’s not a good fit for the office.
Plus, our office doesn’t recognize the holiday and that’s fine by me. We’ve got a lot of people in this building and if everyone brought in their dog, it’d be a chaotic day.
If your workplace does celebrate this day and you have a dog who does well in your work environment, congratulations! I hope you and your dog have a great day!
While dogs may not be allowed in The Oakland Press building, there is one special Golden Retriever and Labrador mix who graces us with his presence in the newsroom everyday.
His name is Norton and he’s an assistance dog. Our Voices of Disability columnist, Jerry Wolffe, got him a couple years ago and since then, Norton has become a part of our day here.
Norton is trained to do lots of wonderful things to assist Jerry and it’s clear why he was chosen as an assistance dog — he loves food. Above all else, that dog loves food.
Food motivated dogs are highly trainable, making them sought after as assistance dogs. While all dogs may have some level of food motivation, some dogs are more motivated by food than others. Norton is about as food motivated as dogs get.
This sometimes gets him into trouble.
I remember one morning, walking past the rows of desks in the newsroom. Only a couple people were in the newsroom that early — Jerry was working at his computer and our online editor had stopped by another staffer’s office, his back turned to his desk.
When I looked down the aisle, that’s when I saw Norton — a napkin sticking out of his mouth as he chewed on a stolen sandwich.
“Norton, no!” I yelled instinctively. “Drop it! Bad dog!”
There’s a few things I never expected to say in the newsroom.
Norton had stolen our online editor’s sandwich off of his desk. Jerry was so embarrassed, but I found it all quite funny. Norton is a dog, after all, and a highly food motivated one. Even assistance dogs are not infallible.
Mostly, Norton spends his days here sleeping by the water cooler. We can’t pet him — it would distract him from his job — but he seems to enjoy lifting his head to sniff our feet as pass by on our way to fill up our water bottles. Or maybe he’s just making sure he’s positioned near enough to hear all the water cooler gossip.
Either way, Norton is the dog of our office and for him and Jerry, it’s take your dog to work day everyday.

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