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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

News & Views January 2014 Issue

Not Just Family Members But Professional Colleagues

Dogs in the workplace increase productivity.

Regular readers of this page are by now fairly well acquainted with my canine family members, border collie Franklin and shiba inu Rosie. What you may not be aware of is that they not only number among my loved ones but also are my office mates. While I frequently interview veterinarians on the campus of Tufts Cummings School and watch them performing ultrasounds of dogs and overseeing pets on dialysis machines and other apparatus (yes, it is a very cool job), I do my writing in my office at home. And the two of them spend a lot of the day right by my side, or at least in the vicinity of my desk.

Rosie and Franklin start their work day. (Rosie prefers a chair that's ergonomically correct.)

They have proven themselves to be consummate business colleagues. When I feel stuck on something I’m trying to describe, they often remind me that it might be a good juncture to go out and get some fresh air and perhaps play some catch in order to regroup. When I bring a bowl of yogurt — or better yet, ice cream — upstairs to my work station, they never fail to let me know that it’s good to stay trim and that I’d be healthier if I didn’t eat all of it. And when the isolation and quiet of the writing process feel a little too solitary, they call a belly-rubbing meeting or muzzle-stroking session to drive home the point that our work is a team effort and that it takes all of our goodwill to make it happen. The bottom line: they enhance my mood, which increases my productivity.

I’m not the only one who knows about dogs contributing to the bottom line. Other companies — big ones and small ones alike — have known it for years, and they allow people to bring their dogs to the office. More recently, researchers have swooped in to prove what dog lovers have known intuitively: dogs in the office contribute to workers’ morale and efficiency. 

I should note that dogs don’t just make good office mates. They aid in diagnosing illnesses, too — their own. Certain scents on dogs suggest certain serious conditions that need treatment by a veterinarian, everything from gum disease to ear infections to a particular type of cancer. 

Finally, just when you thought you’ve heard everything about all a dog can do, a new book comes out describing the ability of some dogs to stay put for an MRI scan — voluntarily. Find out what the researchers learned about how our pets regard us by imaging dog brains. You won’t be surprised, but it’s nice to have the love verified. 

Happy tails to you,

Lawrence Lindner

Executive Editor

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