The Office – Canine Edition

September 30 | Hmmm...No Comments Yet

Working for the manHere’s a great story of how great it is to have me (and your canine pals) in the office with you.  Enjoy…

Ron Ostlund keeps a bag of potato chips in one of his desk drawers at his office at Riviera Pools. He stashes a jar of cashews there, too.

The snacks aren’t for him. They’re for the dogs roaming his office.

On any given day, the pool company’s corporate office is jingling with the sound of dog collars from as many as eight pooches. The pups greet visitors at the front door. They stroll into and out of meetings. They beg for snacks, bark for attention and have free rein over desks, couches and chairs.

“They’re spoiled rotten,” Ostlund said, as he offered cashews to Jack, Panda and Riley, who patiently waited on all fours for a treat. “I’ve created monsters here.”

It may sound disruptive or just plain crazy to allow dogs in the office, but Ostlund’s company is among the nearly one in five that allows employees to bring pets to work, according to a 2008 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Almost a quarter of working Americans believe pets should be allowed in the workplace, the survey found.

Bob Vetere, APPMA president, said companies are now more open to pets in the workplace. He understands why.

“If people have their pets there, they tend to be calmer and more productive,” Vetere said. “It just appears people are not worried that they have to run home at lunchtime and feed Fluffy.”

Janice Meyer brings her German shepherd-mix, Lola, to work everyday at Split Engineering in Tucson. Lola roams the office, barks at visitors and accompanies Meyer as she picks up her children after work. Meyer knows she has it good. She doesn’t have to worry about racing home for Lola’s potty breaks.

“She’s spoiled rotten,” Meyer said. “It would be a long day to be home by herself.”

Vetere said people are growing more concerned about pets’ well-being while they’re at work. Some have installed Web cams so they can keep an eye on Fido. Others are equipping their pets’ collars with speakers, so they can whisper sweet nothings from their cellphones or offer reprimands if the animals are getting into trouble., which tracks pet-friendly companies hotels and restaurants, lists eight other Arizona companies as being dog-friendly. There may be more, since businesses must list themselves on the site.

Vetere said allowing animals to snooze under the desk or mingle in meetings puts an owner’s mind at ease.

But “if you get to the point where you’re allowing more dogs than people, that becomes one thing,” he said. “For the most part, this could be a positive workplace move.”

Ostlund agrees. His business has been dog-friendly since it began in his living room in 1996. That casual workplace grew into 15 Valley offices, many of which are also dog-friendly.

At a time when the pool industry has taken somewhat of a dive, Ostlund said Riviera’s business is up 13 percent. He can’t give all the credit to the dogs, but they get some. Ostlund said he has had clients choose his company because of the dogs. Others pop by just to see the pooches.


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