It may be therapeutic at hospitals, but not elsewhere, admits Sylvia Raghunathan, owner of Aesthetics, a furniture and crafts boutique on RK Salai. ‘‘Having my dogs, Kannamma and Bruno, with me has caused some walk outs,’’ she says. But she adds, ‘‘It’s never made me question my decision.’’ So how do you ensure there are no adverse reactions? Merchant says the key is to have a well behaved pet. ‘‘Nobody wants a dog that jumps on people and barks the place down,’’ she lists the fallout traits, and insists basic training is a must before you attempt to introduce your furry buddy to the folks at the office.
When it comes to a ‘helping paw’ at the workplace, this hospital fits the bill. ‘‘Patients who are depressed and have few visitors are always happy to see a dog walk in,’’ says Dr Suniti Solomon, founder-director of the Y R Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education at VHS Hospital, Taramani. Every day, Dr Solomon, 74, has been accompanied to the HIV block she heads, by not one but two canine generations. Presently her 10-year-old golden retriever, Nala, makes the rounds of the corridors, minus coat and stethoscope, of course. With no leash restrictions, Nala makes frequent visits to her best friend Annie Zachariah, an HIV positive matchmaker and counsellor on the second floor, and even trots up to the Sky Cafe canteen when in the mood for a treat.
Breaking all conventions, these pet enthusiasts make their work environments paw friendly
Ever thought of a four-legged assistant at your workplace? Well, there is a mad-about-their-pooches section of Chennai’s populace that actually manages to take their furry companions to their workplace—every day. And yes, actually get work done! While surveys suggest the beagle, labrador and golden retriever are some of the top choices for that nine-to-five grind, Mumbai-based canine behaviourist Shirin Merchant tells us that it is all about good manners and strict parenting.
‘‘I’ll never forget the day we brought 80-day-old Ekda to get a feel of the office—we had her walk on the conference table. But now, when I bring her along, she’s extremely disciplined. And I have to admit, the bigger difficulty has been training the humans to ensure she follows the rules” —Harish Anand Thilakan, Managing Partner at Influx Interactive (Digital Marketing)
‘‘I think pet owners should try and persuade their offices to permit them to bring their dogs to the office at least one day a year. It would encourage a more dog-friendly society. How will people know whether they like it or not, if they don’t give it a try?’’
—Shirin Merchant, canine behaviourist
■ Opt for flooring that isn’t slippery, like a cement floor with a matt finish or anti-skid tiles ■ Carpets are a no-no because of fur shedding ■ If your pet is keeping you company in your cubicle, try a kiddie gate or a modular panel system to cordon off the area ■ Run wire managers across low strung electrical work ■ An elevated food space such as a wooden panel or a ring to fit your dog’s food bowl can help reduce any mess
Right at home
Never a dog person, ad man Chockalingam Somasundaram was converted when he met ‘Goofy’— a rescued terrier-lhasa apso mix. ‘‘And he has won over everyone,’’ he smiles. Here’s the twist: Goofy doesn’t need a ride to the OPN Advertising office in RA Puram— because he lives there. ‘‘We have people take turns at feeding him, and often the guys are queuing up to take him for a walk in the evening,’’ relates the creative director. He adds, ‘‘You see Goofy is a chick magnet.’’ Over the past seven years, it turns out Goofy has become such an integral part of the office that he has his own visiting card.
■ Expose your dog to multiple public spaces (this could include the beach or a friend’s house, and can be done from as early as six months old).
■ Get your dog used to your routine—work place, provision shopping, sleep habits, etc.
■ Teach your dog the word NO. Everything will get easier from this point on.
■ Potty training and good exercise are a must.
(From veterinarian S M Aravind Kumar of The Ark, who incidentally takes his pet, Inji, to the clinic and the pet boarding space he’s named after her, in Ambattur.)
‘‘The staff at our design studio, who were really scared of dogs when they joined us, are now best buddies with them.’’
— Vivek Karunakaran, fashion designer