I think most dog lovers and dog owners would love to be able to have their canine companion accompany them at work. I know mine spent most of the day either following me around or just laying near me keeping my company. They enjoy being my ‘guinea pigs’ when I am creating new doggie recipes and many of the training tips I pass along I try out on them first and they’re both usually pretty agreeable to be ‘working dogs.’

Here’s a great story that really touched home with me on dogs in the workplace and working dogs. From The Battle Creek Enquirer, I hope it warms your heart as much as it did mine.

Working like a dog is supposed to be a bad thing, a phrase uttered by tired employees sick of punching the clock. But don’t tell that to Winston.

Winston, a 1-year-old Corgi and Australian cattledog mix, loves to go to work at the firm Architecture + design in downtown Battle Creek.

And while he doesn’t sit at a desk (he’s a little short) or help answer e-mails (no opposable thumbs), his owners Randy and Sue Case, said his work at their design firm is irreplaceable.

“He’s our greeter and he puts a smile on everyone’s faces,” Sue Case said. “Clients just love him, because he makes the workplace fun. We have some clients who only schedule meetings when they know he will be there.”

WinstonWinston, who goes to work three days a week at the firm while not at doggy daycare, is one of many dogs in Battle Creek with a 9 to 5 career.

WINSTON: FROM THE POUND TO THE POSH LIFE

Winston had a rough start in life. His mother was rescued in 2006 from a puppy mill in Homer, where she was pregnant and suffering from extreme neglect.

The Cases adopted Winston and said his charm and friendliness made him perfect for the office.

“He’s our little social butterfly and he’s always kind of checking in on us, making sure everyone is where they should be,” Sue Case said. “He has lunch dates with the squirrels and knows who he can get treats from. He’s a very busy guy.”

BUDDY, THE SHAGGY STRESS RELIEVERBuddy

Another downtown dog is Buddy, a 1-year-old golden retriever who goes to work with his owner, Kathleen Eriksen, downtown development director for Battle Creek Unlimited.

Buddy takes the slow approach to work, Eriksen said, mainly content to sleep under the desk and act as a friendly foot warmer.

Eriksen said she enjoys her day much more with Buddy in tow because he calms her down when things get a little hectic.

“This is a fast-paced job, but he’s a huge stress reliever because no matter what my day is like, he will always be happy,” Eriksen said. “I think taking a moment to look at a sleeping dog is a great way to relax.”

Eriksen might be on to something. A recent study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles found that dog owners required much less medical care for stress-induced aches and pains than non-dog owners.

The study also showed that pets in the workplace can boost employee morale and productivity.

BARNABUS AND C.J.: HEALING PAWS

Most doctors offer their young patients lollipops to ease the sting of a shot. At the Family Health Center of Battle Creek, doctors have something much sweeter — two cuddly dogs named C.J. and Barnabus.

C.J., an 8-year-old golden retriever, has been a therapy dog at the center since his puppy-hood. Barnabus, a Labradoodle, arrived as a puppy earlier this year.

Unlike seeing eye dogs or companion animals, C.J. and Barnabus are not used to provide assistance or care for patients, but provide therapy just by being themselves. They greet patients, play with children and cheer up elderly patients with their arsenal of funny tricks.

“There are many times where a child is getting a shot and they are hugging C.J. while they are getting it,” said Janan Dunn, an administrative secretary at the center. “It helps put people at ease.”

Medical staff at the center first had the idea to bring in a therapy dog almost a decade ago, after reading a news article listing the benefits of pet therapy.

“A lot of patients we see here are emotionally challenged and a therapy dog can provide comfort and ease the stress of being at the doctor or dentist,” said Becky Storey, the center’s chief financial officer.

Arriving at work at 8 a.m., Barnabus and C.J. settle in at the administrative office until they are needed.

“C.J. actually gets paged over the loudspeaker, like a doctor does,” said A.J. Jones, the center’s president and chief executive officer.

Franky and Izabel FRANKY AND IZABEL: THE TASTE-TESTERS

Mixed breed mutts Franky and Izabel probably have the sweetest job of all. As taste testers for the Doggylicious Delights organic dog treat bakery, much of their day is spent munching the new creations of their owner, Krista Howard.

“All of our treats have been given a paws up by them,” said Howard, who owns the bakery located on Surby Avenue. “They are our in-house connoisseurs.”

The bakery, which uses all natural ingredients, even has signature namesake biscuits — the “Icy Izabel Bones” and “Franky’s Favorite Carob Kittys.”

“I think these guys pretty much have it made,” Howard said. “Getting to lay around and try out biscuits all day? It would be nice if work was that easy for the rest of us.”

FROM THE WATER DISH TO THE WATER COOLER

And it’s not just Battle Creek where dogs can be found napping by the filing cabinet. Bringing dogs to the job is a growing trend, said Patti Moran, president of Pet Sitters International, a North Carolina-based educational association for professional pet sitters.

In 1999, Moran’s group started the national Take Your Dog to Work Day, a day in which participating companies allow canine companions in the office.

“Take Your Dog to Work Day celebrates the great companions dogs make,” Moran said. “It encourages employers to experience the value of pets in the workplace, even if just for one day. Ultimately, it’s about encouraging pet adoptions from shelters, humane societies and rescue groups.”

Thousands of companies now participate in the annual event, which is held every year on the Friday after Father’s Day.

While Sue Case said having a dog at work might not be for everyone, she can’t imagine Winston staying at home.

“When things get hectic, you just have to look at him and you’re happy,” she said. “He helps me see the world through doggy eyes.”

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