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Dogs At Work :: Hey Mister, what's in the bag? RESPONSIBILITY!
July 9, 2014 9:43 AM   Subscribe

How SparkFun has maintained a high dog:human ratio as the company has grown up.
posted by zamboni (31 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would love to bring my dog to work. In fact, I feel badly that he spends all day in a little box.

Of course, I spend all day in a slightly larger box - which is an irony not at all lost on me.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:17 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


lol, this is SUCH a Boulder company and Boulder problem to have. I know, I know, I shouldn't snark, but I have 2 close friends who work for SparkFun who've been grousing about the whole dog policy issue (neither are dog owners).

Thanks for posting!
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:19 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


How on earth is this not a liability nightmare between the admitted cases of bites and people with allergies?
posted by dr_dank at 10:20 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine working in a place where dogs crapping on the floor is an acceptable practice.
But, presumably, if you work there, you went on an interview and saw the many dogs wandering about, so you know what you are in for.

Also, Sparkfun has 150 people? I had no idea it was that big.
posted by madajb at 10:23 AM on July 9


My office is a pet-friendly office but we're only like 15-20 people so it's not a big deal, and also most people live subway distance away so it's largely irrelevant to them.

except for me ha ha i get to bring my littlest peanut
posted by elizardbits at 10:25 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


...corporate dog policy... haha!

Also the sign for the poop bags is nifty.
posted by danabanana at 10:25 AM on July 9


You would be amazed at the drama that Dog Policy can generate at veterinary hospitals (my workplaces for the last 7 years). When almost all of your employees own multiple dogs, it's generally not feasible to allow them all to be brought to work, and who can and who can't is often a serious source of workplace strife.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:38 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I work for a giant multinational advertising company and people are allowed to bring dogs to the office. It's a creative/webby thing in NYC for sure.

I love dogs but frankly am hit or miss on having them in the office. Some are well behaved but some are peeing, pooping, barking, crappy devils and they're all really distracting. Like I'll be trying to ask questions about a project and someone will bring over a dog, and then 15 minutes later I have to ask all the questions again once everyone's calmed down.
posted by sweetkid at 10:38 AM on July 9


I worked at a company like this - although our dog policy was dolled out by HR based on strict standards, and less a Dog Tribunal, since everyone (around 75 people) acknowledged what was acceptable/not acceptable dog behavior.

This is awesome though - and a really thorough and well thought out policy.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 10:39 AM on July 9


I've never gotten to work in a dog friendly company, but I've always been really curious how they handled scuffles and distractions and things like that.

This scratched a very strange itch I've had for a while. Thank you!
posted by ernielundquist at 10:44 AM on July 9


I work for an organisation with a large number of blind employees, which makes for a large number of guide dogs in the office. Is is mostly awesome. Apart from when it isn't.

*pssstzz* on the radio "can a cleaner come to the third floor, there's been a spillage." *pssstzz* "I think it's dog sick"
posted by Helga-woo at 10:45 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I take my dog to work, on the subway, so I don't get elizerbits' comment. There are several other dogs around, but none wander the building. All dogs are kept in their owners' own offices. If we need to leave our office temporarily (a meeting or the bathroom etc.), the dog stays in the office with the door closed.

My dog threw up one the carpet once. I cleaned it up as best I could immediately and then came in after hours with carpet cleaning supplies to scrub it up properly. As far as I know there haven't been issues around soiling because dogs are in their own offices, where the office occupants is ultimately the one both responsible and likely to be bothered. Allergies are also a non-issue since dogs are in their own offices where there's no reason they should activate anyone else's office.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:56 AM on July 9


This is awesome. Also, they should market that sign.
posted by LarryC at 11:02 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Uh. Because dogs are not allowed on the NYC subway unless they are service dogs or can fit inside a portable carrier? And the transit police are not shy about kicking people who ignore the rules off the train?
posted by elizardbits at 11:09 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I was raised with dogs, and I love this policy. When I adopted my first cat, I decided to bring him with me to work one afternoon when I had to be in on the weekend. I had no idea that he would be utterly terrified and just how many pieces of furniture there were for him to hide under. Dumb first-time cat owner mistake there.
posted by gladly at 11:09 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Huh...I didn't know that...how do people in NYC get their dogs around if they don't have a car? I would think there are many people in NYC without cars.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:14 AM on July 9


I've never gotten to work in a dog friendly company, but I've always been really curious how they handled scuffles and distractions and things like that.

I recently started working at a dog-friendly company, and the short answer - at least here - is that they take "your dog has to be extremely well-behaved" very seriously. Accidents, ongoing barking, etc, has a pretty low tolerance, with the result that I know of several dog owners who don't bring in their dogs because they know their pooch isn't good with others, or would bark too much, etc. I'm very much Not a Dog Person but I've referred to this new workplace as Dog Propaganda, because it's all friendly cuddles and tail-wagging; there's none of the wild yapping that sets my teeth on edge, or poorly-trained over-friendly jumpers. (Okay, there's the one puppy, but she's learning! And she's still pretty quiet and generally well-behaved and the older dogs help keep her in line. Because pack animals.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:29 AM on July 9


Huh...I didn't know that...how do people in NYC get their dogs around if they don't have a car? I would think there are many people in NYC without cars.

By cab, of course.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:36 AM on July 9


I was raised with dogs, and I love this policy. When I adopted my first cat, I decided to bring him with me to work one afternoon when I had to be in on the weekend. I had no idea that he would be utterly terrified and just how many pieces of furniture there were for him to hide under. Dumb first-time cat owner mistake there.

Two thoughts:

1. I am now imagining that you were lost in the woods as a child and cared for by a pack of friendly dogs. Please do not contradict this impression.

2. Cats pretty much hate all change. A couple of people have suggested I bring my cute little cat to work, and I point out that neither he nor work would benefit from that decision. Especially since he would get into something that would require maintenance to saw open a wall or something to extract him, and then there would be budget hell to pay.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:54 AM on July 9 [7 favorites]


I used to work down the street... it's a dangerous neighborhood for a techy. So many cool toys!

The post about their new building was really interesting, too.
posted by underflow at 12:01 PM on July 9


Mr. Ant and I own a small specialty retail shop. Our two mutts are shop dogs, and all friendly dogs are welcome to come in and browse. Perks like this make up a little bit for the stress and sleepless nights of being self-employed.

Bonus pic 1: the nap
Bonus pic 2: the commute

posted by workerant at 12:12 PM on July 9 [6 favorites]


I tried bringing my dog to work, and the management said that canine consumption of too many oregano flavored dakos was adversely affecting the budget.

Well, not management-management, but me, since I manage this sector. Not that there's anyone to manage, but I have to manage myself and the dog, and okay, she still gets a dakos after every walk. Two if they're the small ones. And continues to accompany me to work. In my bedroom. But still, propriety.
posted by taz at 12:15 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I love dog friendly offices.

I worked in an office in a city where people are generally well informed about dogs. People would not bring their dogs unless they knew they would behave, and if a dog misbehaved, the owners would not bring them back until they corrected the issue.

The office grew, and we started having some problem dogs. A very easy policy was instituted, one could only bring the dog into the office if one took the dog to a Canine Good Citizenship class at the SPCA and passed the test. The good thing about the test is that it tests both the dog and the owner.

Some non dog owners took the class too just to better understand dogs.

My favorite time in that company, and I could see how many people would hate working in a place like that, was when there were about 6 dogs, 2 puppies and 2 babies there a few times a week. It was a joy to see the dogs and babies interacting.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 1:42 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


This is awesome. Also, they should market that sign.

They give it away for free.
posted by zamboni at 2:17 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Psh, call me when it's bring your Serval to work day. And record the video.
posted by pwnguin at 2:27 PM on July 9


I so want to work at a dog-friendly place. This would make my life so much easier. As Big Jim approaches the Rainbow Bridge, he needs mid-day attention and that's a 70 minute commute, round trip. In a crowd of dogs he'd have been the alpha-humper a year ago. These days he's pretty content with thumping the floor with his tail whenever anyone comes over and says "hi".
posted by Fezboy! at 3:00 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Oh hey.

So, yeah, I have worked at SparkFun for what feels like a long time now.

The Dog Tribunal is, on the one hand, kind of ridiculous, but has on the other hand been pretty uncontentious in practice for quite a while.

Having dogs around continues to be rad.
posted by brennen at 5:18 PM on July 9 [5 favorites]


I'm very much Not a Dog Person but I've referred to this new workplace as Dog Propaganda, because it's all friendly cuddles and tail-wagging; there's none of the wild yapping that sets my teeth on edge, or poorly-trained over-friendly jumpers.

That's my experience too - all the dogs of all the dog owners I'd ever met until now were not like these. You don't even realize there are dogs present (and there are quite a lot of them around - I've nearly unwittingly stepped on tails on several occasions!). On average I'd say every couple of days there will be a lone bark or two, but the owner quietens it immediately.
There are plenty of people here with dogs of a more regular demeanor (eg can't really be relied on to always be silent around other dogs or when their owner leaves them etc) which they can't really bring in, but they still benefit from hanging out with other dogs at work :)
posted by anonymisc at 8:15 PM on July 9


I love dogs, though I don't have one. But every time I hear about dogs in the workplace I flash back to the year 2000. I had just moved to Seattle and had an interview arranged in advance with a downtown company. It turned out, when I arrived, that they had just instituted a "bring your dogs to work" policy. It was the first week of the policy, possibly the very first day, and the hiring manager with whom I was interviewing had brought his chocolate lab to work that day for the very first time.

The dog was stimulated by the new environment and (in typical lab fashion) excited to meet a new person and the owner wasn't yet accustomed to controlling his dog in the workplace, so I spent a very awkward interview trying to answer questions about network engineering concepts while using my hands to fend off a 60-lb lab who really wanted to get at my crotch for a good sniff. It was a surreal and disconcerting interview and I'll never be sure how much it had to do with not being offered the job I was there to interview for (they offered me a different one, which I think is what they'd had in mind the whole time, so it's kind of hard to say..)

In any case, I do believe dogs and the workplace can mix, but I hope that those who are looking to do so realize that it can lead to some odd situations which are uncomfortable for people (and sometimes for the dogs.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:03 PM on July 9


This is just so weird to me and I *think* is a very USA thing? Never heard of it in the UK. Would you take you child into work with you, designated work funded nursery aside? No, so why the hell is bringing a dog in even considered? So very weird.

(Although, for context, I am one of those awful people who moans bitterly about new mothers bringing their fresh, wrinkly offspring into the office for their colleagues to moon over)
posted by fatfrank at 6:01 AM on July 10


I *think* is a very USA thing?

No it's kind of unusual here but a growing trend in some offices, especially ones that are about hip and fun and open office culture. It's not "very USA." There is also this from the Telegraph on dogs in offices in the UK.
posted by sweetkid at 8:47 AM on July 10


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