Will work for biscuits

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day

Photographs by Makito Inomata, Raina + Wilson, Chris Bolin; Farzin Ghayour; Getty; iStock

Photographs by Makito Inomata, Raina + Wilson, Chris Bolin; Farzin Ghayour; Getty; iStock

On any given day, Lebowski can be found roaming the halls of Toronto’s Softchoice Corp., getting belly rubs from employees, delivering mail to his boss, Robbie Eddison, and stealing treats from neighbouring desks. It should be said that Lebowski is a dog. A gregarious, 61-kilogram bullmastiff.

On June 21, offices across the country will open their doors to four-legged companions to celebrate International Take Your Dog to Work Day. But at Softchoice’s Liberty Village office, dogs are a permanent fixture. As many as 20 pooches report for work on an average day. Call it an inexpensive perk—cheaper than a gym membership—that goes a long way toward improving the physical and mental health of employees. “Petting dogs has a far more calming effect on stressed employees than stress balls,” says Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, whose dog Mika is one of several at the company’s Vancouver office.

“Employees are generally happier with a dog in the workplace,” says Liz Palika, author of Dogs at Work. So happy, they may even be willing to take a pay cut to work for a dog-friendly company: a survey conducted by Modern Dog magazine revealed that 65% of readers would take a job for less money if it meant they could bring their dog to work.

While opponents of dog-friendly workplaces might say pooches are a distraction to employee productivity, Palika says the opposite is true. “Employees often volunteer for overtime because no one needs to rush home to walk the dog,” she says. And what about allergies and those who simply don’t like dogs? Of the half-dozen dog-friendly offices we reached out to, all agreed that creating a dog-free zone and policies around appropriate doggie behaviour has quelled any dog fights. Case in point: with a staff of 1,700, EA Canada has 190 registered dog owners and offers many canine accommodations. “We have a designated off-leash area and provide complimentary poo bags,” says senior director Frank Bassett, whose long-haired dachshund, Digby, accompanies him to work. “We also have on-site pet grooming quarterly, and treats in reception so the dogs can get a bone on their way in or out.” Clearly, the workplace perks go both ways.


Reports to: Brett Wilson, chairman, Prairie Merchant Corp.

“Every day that I’m in the office, Cash is here, even if I come in on the weekend,” says Wilson. “He’s the one person in the office that will listen to me.”


Reports to: Ryan Holmes, CEO, HootSuite Media Inc.

“When you work long hours, the office can feel like your second home,” says Holmes. “I encourage my employees to embrace it. My dog, Mika, is such a big part of my home life, so my office wouldn’t feel like home without her.”


Reports to: Robbie Eddison, supervisor, Softchoice Corp.

“There’s something about him that embodies our corporate culture,” says Eddison. “We’re a technology company, but we’re unique, fun and different—and that’s what he is.”


Reports to: Connie Wilson, Editor, Modern Dog

“Penny helps me unwind by reminding me it’s time for a treat, a walk or a tummy rub,” says Wilson. “Her timing is impeccable, making me take a break when I seem to need it most.”


Reports to: Shmuel Farhi, president, Farhi Holdings Corp.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve had dogs working with me. I cannot see doing what I do without Laila here,” says Farhi, who refers to Laila as the chairdog of the board. “She gives two woofs for yes and one woof for no.”


Reports to: Frank Bassett, senior director, EA Canada

“It’s fun having dogs at work. It changes the mood in a room when there’s a pet involved,” says Bassett. “He knows where the treats are and where to go for pee breaks. He could probably find my office without me.”