our meetings are being ruined by dogs and a toddler

A reader writes:

I serve on a nonprofit board of directors and am actively involved in a number of committees that frequently meet during the workday. While the organization tries to make a good effort at keeping meetings short and succinct, there are two main problems that keep this from happening: toddlers and dogs. One employee frequently brings her toddler to work — which, good on the organization for bring flexible, but having a small human in a meeting is distracting and disruptive. (She will also bring her child to conferences, 21+ events for the organization, and tabling events, which I find to be less than professional.) The office is also dog-friendly, and these canine companions sometimes don’t get along with each other and you’ll frequently walk into a meeting with dogs and a kid running around. So, meetings that are only scheduled for an hour will typically run over due to the myriad of distractions.

I bring my own issues to this situation. I don’t really like children and I’m wondering if this is clouding my perspective. Would it be appropriate to bring this up with the organization’s executive director? I think having some additional office policies would go a long way to making the organization more professional and making things run more efficiently.

If you’re on the board, you absolutely have standing to say something!

At a minimum, it would be entirely reasonable to say, “When we allot one hour for meetings, they often end up running longer, and I think it’s due to having a toddler and dogs there. Let’s talk about how we can manage meetings differently, so that we keep things moving and aren’t getting distracted.”

That’s at a minimum. Frankly, it would also be reasonable to say, “I’m finding the presence of kids and dogs are lowering our focus while we’re meeting” and ask to have kid-free and dog-free meetings.

Now, that’s just about the meetings themselves. As a board member — who’s charged with the overall governance and effectiveness of the organization — it would be reasonable for you to wonder what other impact the toddler and the dogs might be having. If you’re finding it’s a distraction that slows down single meetings, what does that mean for the work of the organization’s employees? Unless this is a two-employee organization, I’d bet lots of money that there are employees there who are frustrated at the distractions they’re having to deal with all day long. And is there liability to the organization if someone’s bitten? It’s absolutely your place to raise this with the executive director.

If nothing else, the office needs to have policies in place about minimizing distractions to others if you’re bringing a kid or a dog to work — like that they can’t be allowed to disturb others, can’t wander unattended, can’t continue to come in if they’re aggressive toward other dogs, etc. (More on that here.)

{ 368 comments… read them below }

  1. AMG*

    Oh Good Grief. I love kids and dogs, but this would make anyone crazy. Do you really, really have to tell people not to do this? Common sense is not a flower growing in everyone’s garden. OP, bring it up by all means!

    1. AcademiaDataNerd*

      I was about to say the same thing – I have two dogs and a toddler myself, and while I love them, I’d never bring them to work or meetings! I have a babysitter for my toddler even when I’m working from home, because it’s way too distracting and I can’t work when she’s around.

      1. Murphy*

        Right?! I have a toddler and a dog and while I’ve often (mostly jokingly) said that my dog should be allowed to come to work because he’s awesome, I would never, ever dream of bringing a toddler to a meeting. No way I’d be getting anything done. Hell, just last week I was home with my sick kid and was on the phone with my boss and he was laughing because he could hear her dropping books and yelling “uh-oh”. That was distracting enough and it was a 10 minute phone call (and the dog was at daycare, it’s worse when he’s around).

        Except for exceptional circumstances (and there are some) kids don’t belong in an office!

        1. moss*

          When my children were young, I loved to go to work to get away from them (love them, but…). I can’t imagine WANTING to bring them along.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        We must have childcare when working from home here–it’s not allowed to WFH and take care of your kid too. I know other commenters have said their workplaces have similar policies.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Speaking as someone who has tried to WFH only on occasion, I can attest that small children become more needy and demanding when they can sense that your attention is focused elsewhere. When my kids were small, they would play happily with a toy without needing much unless I got on a phone call or tried to do work on the laptop. Then they would need me immediately and desperately. And LOUDLY!

          1. ToxicNudibranch*

            Yep. This is the exact reason our WFH policy explicitly states we can’t have children in our care or working environment during billable work hours. It’s simply impossible to devote full attention to work if you’re also providing childcare. Heck, I even shut my cats out of the room because the second I get on a conference call is the moment they decide to yowl about how unfair life is.

          2. Collarbone High*

            You could replace “small children” with “cats” and this paragraph would be equally true.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            Heck, my dogs do that too. One of them gets so jealous when I’m on the phone, he starts humping my leg.

        2. moss*

          my industry is the same. It’s very scandalous when someone gets caught giving care instead of working on work tasks. It’s very common to work from home but it is clearly stated in the employee handbook that child care must be arranged.

        3. LisaD*

          I was at Yahoo when their much maligned “WFH Ban” happened and lots of people even in management positions were whining “Are you going to give me a raise to compensate for the daycare I have to put my kids in now?!”

          Uhhhh…. welp. If I was Marissa I’d have fired everyone who admitted by bringing that up that they were trying to “work” while also acting as a full time child caregiver with no additional support. Poor Marissa took so much heat on that one, and it was absolutely the right decision.

        4. DoDah*

          I wish our WFH policy included this provision. My lead’s kids are out sick at least once a week and phone calls with him on those days are pointless. Then he’ll send an angry follow-up email at midnight that same night because he pissed he has to be up working. Fun for all!

    2. The IT Manager*

      YES! People will get away with what they can get away with, but somebody needs to stop the insanity and stop letting people get away with things that impact actually getting work done. And since you’re on the board you certainly can and should bring this up. I’m sure than even people who love children can see what a distraction they are and how having them at work related event (other than daycare/school/child-related businesses) is unprofessional.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I work at a school, and a teacher bringing her kid to a faculty meeting or professional development event would be a huge faux pas!! Especially a toddler who demands constant attention. It would be ok (unless the contents of the meeting were sensitive) for a middle- or high-school kid with the day off school to sit in the back of the room quietly reading or doing homework, but no little ones.

    3. Revanche*

      Um yeah, I adore my dog and toddler but I only brought my dog to work because everyone wanted him there AND he’s work-trained. He’ll sleep under the desk or on some patch of carpet quietly until he’s told to come out, and is obedient on and off leash.

      The toddler? FAT CHANCE. No work is getting done with the little kiddo running around.

      1. Chinook*

        DH brings his pet wolf to his community meeting because she will sit quietly in the corner and just enjoy being in the presence of humans. He tried the bull dog but she wanted everyone to know that she was there and shouldn’t be ignored, so she lost the privilege. But, he also made sure it was okay with the leadership and it serves the double duty of allowing one of the volunteers, who is afraid of dogs, to become acclimatized to them in a controlled setting because, with what they do (community watch program), she is going to come across dogs in public and running away, shrieking will just encourage them to chase you.

        I also am part of a women’s group that allows for infants (i.e. young enough that they aren’t mobile) to come to our groups but every mother who brings them seems to understand that, once they get to an age that they are being actively disruptive (and not just fussy), that is no place for them. Many of the other women are/have been parents and see it as a time away from small children and would not appreciate that type of intrusion at all. And those who do have to bring their children know to bring quiet activities for them to do in the corner so that running around is not an option.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The wolf is never off-topic. All stories about the wolf are welcome. (Chinook has shared some before, but I would welcome more. I am sort of obsessed with the wolf.)

            1. Chinook*

              Yes – Marley is a rescue from a wolf sanctuary who was the runt of her litter and basically failed as a wild creature. She much prefers to sleep on a couch and hang around humans and is happiest around large groups who don’t notice her.

              The woman who is scared of dogs comes from India where dogs are feral but wants to be a cop in Canada, so learning how to be comfortable with dogs is a necessity because they are everywhere. Marley is perfect for this because she looks dangerous to the little caveman in your brain but she will cuddle up next to any human on command and will obey DH and me without question. And once you have cuddled with a wolf, a yappy little poodle doesn’t look anywhere near as terrifying.

              AAM, she just got some professional photos taken (because the photographer didn’t want to pay the hourly rate at the local sanctuary), so I promise to post them if he ever puts them on-line. There is something quite endearing about seeing a noble grey wolf sitting above a rushing river with her tongue hanging out.

              1. De Minimis*

                So not a wolf-hybrid, a real wolf? That’s awesome.

                I’ve heard bad things about wolf-hybrids [even their owners often admit they are probably a bad idea…]

                1. Mustache Cat*

                  Well, what makes wolfdogs a hard animal to train and own is that their wolf content makes them inherently unsuitable for most modern lifestyles. Experienced wolfdog owners will say that they are not a pet, they are a lifestyle.

                  In particular, the more wolf content a wolfdog has, the more they are likely to exhibit wolf traits like prey drive towards other pets, extreme escape artist tendencies, shyness around strangers, and destructiveness. With a lot of training you can manage some of these, but some of these (for example winter wolf syndrome) is just biologically inherent to wolves and higher-content wolfdogs, and can’t be changed.

                2. Nunya*

                  I had a wolf hybrid when I was too young to know better. He ended up being supremely awesome, but it was part luck and part serious training. The main problem is you never know how the wild and domestic genes are going to mix and express themselves, so each hybrid is a crap shoot.

                3. AMG*

                  The dog park we go to has a visitor who is half wolf and also part husky / part German Shepherd. He is massive, with legs longer than most of the Great Danes we have seen, and completely uninterested in any people and very few dogs. He is so gorgeous.

                4. Chinook*

                  Marley is a real wolf (or has the characteristics of one – only way to tell is DNA test) but wolf hybrids naturally occur here if you don’t spay/neuter your outdoor dog.

                  Both of these really are a bad idea for most people because wolves want to obey whereas dogs want to please. So, you can bribe a dog but not a wolf. It took a year solid for DH to be able to trust Marley off leash in the dog park and she is crated when she is alone because we recognize that her natural instincts could show up. We watch her like a hawk around others, especially children (who love to come and pet her when we walk her) and can read her body language to know when she becomes skittish. It helps that she is very much an omega and wants someone else to be in charge (though we both have wrestled her on her back to show dominance and are not afraid to bare our teeth to her if she is pushing boundaries and not listening).

                  The wolf dog sanctuary we got her from is very strict about who gets to adopt and is always willing to take them back because you won’t know what they will do until you get them home. In our case, Marley ran off during the first week and refused to come into the house even with raw meat on offer. She slept on our front lawn that night and had to be lassoed the next morning. Luckily, she seemed to have been testing to see if we really wanted her in our pack and now won’t run off.

                  Anytime anyone says they want one, I do everything I can to talk them out of it and then, if they are insistent, point them to the sanctuary because I know that the owner there will also do her best to talk them out of it.

                5. Mustache Cat*

                  Ugghhhh, I really really hate to be this person. But you’re spreading a bit of misinformation about wolves and wolfdogs! That is probably because you have an unusually well-behaved animal, as far as wolfdogs go, so please don’t take this too much to heart! I’m mostly saying this for the sake of everyone here who might want a wolf or wolfdog someday (and I see some of them in this thread!)

                  To start, there are actually no reliable DNA tests for wolf content, despite how they might market themselves. The sanctuary you adopted Marley from says the same thing on their Facebook page. The best way to tell a wolf from a dog, or determine the wolf content of a wolfdog, is by phenotyping.

                  Dominance theory and alpha/omega dynamics are a pretty enduring myth surrounding wolves and dogs, so I don’t blame you for buying into them! But they’ve actually been pretty thoroughly debunked.

                  Another really common myth, that scammers take advantage of all the time, is that wolf-dog matings occur naturally! The reality is that wolves and dogs have extremely different courtship rituals, even if they happen to be in heat at the same time. (Unlike dogs, wolves *only* go into heat during winter, causing the infamous winter wolf syndrome.) A social miscue from either dog or wolf can result in the whole thing going very wrong. In addition to that is the fact that wolves will generally avoid a domestic dog they see in the wild, unless it is to attack them. So ‘natural’ wolf-dog pairings are very, very, very rare. Even the most experienced wolfdog breeders do not pair pure wolf with pure dog, because that can easily end in the dog dead or bleeding. For any wolf to breed with a dog, the wolf would have had to spend its entire lifetime around humans and dogs (and that’s actually how the first wolfdog breeders began, on former fur farms with captive wolves!).

                  For containment, wolfdogs should generally have a 1000 sq ft outdoor space for containment, with dig guards, and fences high enough so that they can’t jump over it. They are notorious escape artists; there’ve been reports of them jumping through windows, tearing apart crates from the inside (!), and they will generally destroy what they have to destroy to get out. They can certainly be inside, but not unaccompanied.

                  Finally, Marley seems like a very well-behaved animal! But that simply isn’t the way most wolves or wolfdogs will behave. Unless they have been very well socialized at a young age, most wolves and wolfdogs will simply not be comfortable around lots of people, especially not new people. They have a lower threshold for stress and boredom than domestic dogs. If they are bored or stressed, they will simply start to destroy belongings and even furniture. I’ve seen a picture of a mid-content wolfdog shredding drywall. Wolves and wolfdogs *will* stalk and hunt animals smaller than them; it would be rare for them to simply ignore a cat.

                  Some reliable sources on wolves and wolfdogs that I like are http://wolfdogeducation.com/ and http://www.packwestwolfdogrescue.org/

                  I hope this is informative!

              2. Mustache Cat*

                I’m curious, what is the name of this sanctuary? I ask because it’s really rare for a sanctuary to give out wild animals as pets. Were you experienced with wolves or wolfdogs before Marley? What do you do for containment and enrichment?

                I’d also absolutely love to see pictures of your pet, whenever they are available.

                1. Chinook*

                  It is the Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary near Canmore, AB. We were experienced pet owners but I thought DH was biting off more than he could chew when he got her, but he worked hard with her and it paid off. As for letting him have one, it may have helped that one of the roles of his particular police force includes conservation, so she knew that he knew the rules and expectations.

                  For containment, she is never out of the house except on a leash or in a fenced in dog park but, when we are home, she has free range of the house. At night, she either sleeps in a large dog crate (alone – bull dog gets her own after she started bugging the wolf during the night) or on the floor next to the bed (when DH isn’t home because I like having her for protection).

                  For enrichment, she is very content going for walks, playing with the bulldog, ignoring the cat, and just laying around and sleeping. We do give her bones, antlers and toys to chew on and play with, but often she just puts them under her paws so the bulldog can’t play with them, so it is not like she really wants to play. She is happiest when there are more people around or just hanging out on the couch, watching the world go by, which makes her a lot like other dogs I have had in the past.

                2. Chinook*

                  In winter, she does the same thing as summer. She has totally failed as a wild creature and doesn’t like the wind and extreme cold. She prefers to curl up in front of the fire and go to sleep.

                3. Chinook*

                  The orange cat has decided that ignoring Marley is the best bet, but only because he hasn’t figured out how to get rid of her (I swear that cat is plotting the wolf’s demise while measuring out her kennel for his new home). Our first cat quickly learned that Marley liked to run after him, so he just walked around and ignored her until he wanted to sleep somewhere warm.

              3. Liana*

                I had no idea you had a pet wolf and I am FASCINATED. I want to know every bit of information you can offer. How did you end up deciding to adopt a wolf? Did you have to convince the sanctuary to let you do this? What was the training process like?

              4. cbackson*

                I was attacked by a dog as a child, and while my only physical injuries were bruises and scratches, I was terrified of them for years (as in, just the sound of collar tags jingling would send my heartrate shooting up and my whole body would start to shake). Getting acclimatized by exposure to an enormous, well-behaved, very friendly lab mutt transformed me into a very happy crazy dog lady. Yay for dogs (and wolves!) that are patient enough to take on the task of rehabilitating a scared human :-)

              5. LisaD*

                I would like to come visit your wolf. I’m not scared of dogs, I just want to pet one ;)

              1. Pontoon Pirate*

                I just yelped with laughter while a very serious sounding meeting was happening in the next room over. I thought about crawling under my desk so as not to be seen in case someone came to check on me. Then I forwarded that link to everyone still speaking to me.

              2. Chinook*

                After such demand, I will put some photos up on twitter (though be warned that I don’t tweet at all, so it would be a boring account to follow) @MarleytheWolf (or I think that is what I have it set up). I will even #Askamanager for you to find it.

                1. Chinook*

                  I think I fixed that. The little lock is gone on my twitter account. I now have been dragged into the public life of the 21st century (I think)!

                2. Chinook*

                  For the record, that cat is my old one who thought he was a dog (and died last summer). My current cat, the orange one in photos, prefers to roll on his back, purr loudly to attract the others and then jump up, hiss and run away. The wolf only fell for it twice. The bulldog falls for it every. single. time.

                3. PlainJane*

                  She’s gorgeous! And you get +1000 bonus points for the Outlander reference in her profile–Rollo rocks!

                4. Chinook*

                  Plain Jane, I even got Diana G. herself to give a hint to Rollo’s prospects before she published the last novel because Marley asked so nicely.

                5. Basia, also a Fed*

                  My goodness! I have a dog who looks almost exactly like that! We call her a husky mix – we got her from a rescue group. I wish she was as well-behaved as your wolf! We call her the Trixie. She talks constantly – it is hard to listen to the TV or talk on the phone. She is aloof and dominant – doesn’t like to be pet. She pees on our other dogs’ heads (one of whom is a pit bull/lab mix). She has zero interest in being a good girl and doesn’t care about treats, so training her was hard. I took her to a trainer who was very condescending towards me; then the trainer tried to teach her, and the Trixie ignored her then peed on the floor. She is also a killer – one summer she killed something 60 days in a row. Groundhogs, opossums, rabbits, birds caught out of the air, voles, mice, chipmunks – if it lives in our yard, she’s caught it. The only thing she leaves alone are toads, because she doesn’t like the way they taste, and snakes because she once caught one by the tail and it bit her in the face. We’ve had her for 8 years now and she’s grown on us.

          2. INTP*

            I love that not only does he have a pet wolf, but apparently the wolf is well-behaved in professional settings while the domestic dog is the disruptive one.

          3. Pontoon Pirate*

            Right?! I didn’t think this was a thing outside of Benton Fraser. It’s like the realization of a dream I didn’t know I had.

            1. Chinook*

              The irony is DH is also a member of the same police force as Benton Fraser. I am literally living my teenage dream right now! And not only has heard all the jokes (and is quick to point out that his wolf is NOT deaf and the dog on that show was a dog because she had blue eyes, not yellow ones), he has willingly sat through a binge fest of Due South!

                1. Chinook*

                  Literally a mountie (I try to be vague because it is a big force but it really isn’t) complete with red serge, cowboy hat, and thigh high boots. :)

                1. Chinook*

                  You binge watch Due South by coming across a very rare full set of episodes on DVD. I have yet to see it anywhere else.

        1. Preggers*

          Huge dog lover but I’m totally against dogs at work. Unless its certain circumstances and the dog is extremely well behaved. Wolfs on the other hand are totally OK just because I want to meet one (and he’s serving a purpose)! I too am the owner of a bulldog who’s an attention seeker. I would never even think about taking him to work. I can’t even take him to the park because he throws a temper-tantrum when he sees kids playing soccer and I won’t let him play too. He just doesn’t understand why bulldogs can’t join the soccer team.

        2. Revanche*

          Ok to respond to the non-wolf part: yes, my infant was really easy to work alongside, and even as a crawler, ze was fine. But working with a toddler that’s 2-legged mobile takes a different kind of attention. While mine will actually leave me and go play alone, that’s not the norm, and I still wouldn’t bring hir to an office setting or a group setting that’s not explicitly intended for hir if I wasn’t prepared to devote attention to keeping hir quiet or taking hir away if ze is disruptive.

          Also again, YAY WOLF STORIES.

    4. GreenTeaPot*

      Just not professional. Cute and funny in 1971, a sort of thumb-your-nose at the Establishment gesture. Just plain stupid in 2016.

    5. Wendy Darling*

      I’m Team Office Dog generally but DON’T BRING DOGS TO MEETINGS. I’m Team Office Dog Sleeps Under Your Desk And Is Seen Not Heard Or Tripped On, basically.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        My dog comes to client calls (all over the phone or Webex) so my office mates can rub him while they listen and talk. It’s very soothing. Of course, he’s asleep the whole time and only occasionally interrupts with a little sigh. And we mostly take these meetings while sitting on sofas.

      2. Hornswoggler*

        I’m on this team, too. My dog sometimes comes to my office, but I work alone. She sometimes snoofles off into other people’s offices in the building, but I only let her go into offices where I know she is welcome. I also currently have a client with a dog-friendly office – lots of part-timers, so never more than two dogs in at once, and they’re all lovely, though the dachshund barks and new people for a bit and then shuts up.

        I once had a meeting with the dachshund’s owner, and she and I were sitting face to face beside her desk. The dachshund got up on my lap and then decided to lie half across my lap and half across her owner’s – so we were kind of stuck. Fortunately we’re all quite good friends so it wasn’t embarrassing.

      3. greenlily*

        Team Office Dog here too, although sometimes you have to be ready for work-arounds. The person who works in the office next door to mine brings her dog to work on occasional Fridays. Dog is a quiet little dude, naps most of the day, is totally happy to be petted and fussed over by visiting students (we work in a college). Everyone who works in our part of the building is happy with Dog.

        However, one of our IT staff is afraid of dogs. She knows Dog is sometimes here on Friday, so if she gets a call for tech assistance to our building on a Friday she’ll call me or my co-worker first to find out if Dog is here. And if he is, she won’t come to the building. If there aren’t any other IT staffers around to take the assistance call, it means no tech assistance until another staffer is available.

        It hasn’t been an issue yet, but Co-worker who owns Dog is aware that there could be a day when she has to find somewhere else to take Dog, maybe for several hours, if we need tech help and this IT staffer is the only one onsite. Not a perfect situation, but so far everyone’s dealing with it okay.

    6. INTP*

      Apparently so – some people seem blind to how distracting their children/dogs are.

      Slightly different from a board meeting, but I was just at a yoga class where the teacher brought her two young sons. She did attempt to reprimand them when they were running around, farting and giggling about it, etc. However, she was totally okay with them moving their mats in between our (the regular students’) mats “as long as you do your yoga” even though we had spaced our mats the way we wanted to be spaced and as a result I was very crowded with a 3 year old squeezed in next to me. It’s like it didn’t occur to her to make them keep their mats where they started, even though she was (ineffectively) reprimanding them for some other things.

      And don’t get me started on every person who thinks their small yappy dog belongs at a farmer’s market, crowded restaurant, etc.

      1. Irishgal*

        I’m hoping you didn’t pay for that class. If you did you may wish to consider complaining and asking for it back.

        1. INTP*

          It was a donations-only class, so I gave her $1 for the yoga mat rental and called it enough.

      2. irritable vowel*

        If that’s not a “Serenity now!” situation, I don’t know what is. I also hope you asked for your money back and complained to the management!

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        “And don’t get me started on every person who thinks their small yappy dog belongs at a farmer’s market, crowded restaurant, etc.”

        Or the people who think that because their dog is small and cute that the cuteness negates their responsibility to teach it to behave. My in-laws are like this with their small, yappy, ill-trained dogs. They think that everyone will just think the dogs are cute and that their misbehavior is part of their cuteness. I beg to differ! I like well-behaved dogs, and the same goes for kids. I realize that neither dogs nor kids are going to behave all the time, but if they are misbehaving, there needs to be evidence, from their humans/parents, that they are in training and not just being allowed to act that way.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah! The social contract says that we are to be patient with young animals and small children who are presumed to be in training. But then some people seem to think that the contract only goes one way, as in everyone is supposed to give them endless patience, but they don’t have to hold up their end of the bargain. Granted, there are also people who don’t hold up their end of the other side of the contract (i.e. they don’t think they owe one second of patience even when the pet or child is being adequately corrected). But people who expect endless patience and who give their pet or kid endless permissiveness should feel the stern disapproval of others.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              For some reason you just totally reminded me of the parents with small children in my neighborhood. They have no problem putting out those “slow down children present” signs yet don’t train them that darting out in the street on bikes and scooters without looking is not cool.

              1. Revanche*

                I’m only ok with those signs on the premise that you ARE training your kids not to run out in the street and that’s because we mostly lived in Southern CA where many irresponsible drivers, particularly in suburbia, go so far as to race through streets and even go up on sidewalks.

        1. INTP*

          Yep! I’ve actually had some conflicts with small dog owners in public because the dog rushed at me, snapping its jaws at my ankles, and I made a kicking motion towards the dog to shoo it away. (To be clear, I have never attempted to kick a dog, and only would as a last resort, I just find that this motion gets the little dogs away from me.) The owners always get very angry – but THEY are the ones that placed their dogs in a position to be threatened by allowing a poorly behaved, aggressive dog to run around without a leash. I’m not going to just wait and see if it actually bites me or just threatens to.

        2. Rana*

          Oh, gosh yes. When I’m out walking with my child, I’m usually not too worried about encountering large dogs and their owners, because those owners usually get that their animal could be a problem and take preemptive steps. But when a smaller dog comes our way, I move my child out of the way or pick her up – all the dogs that have lunged or barked at us have been little ones, and most of their owners are slow to react to or prevent this behavior. (Chihuahuas seem particularly aggressive, for some reason.)

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I was on mile 8 of a 10-mile run, looping back towards home. There was a house with an open yard that had let their chihuahua and pomeranian (this is a guess – it was small and fluffy), these dogs aggressively chased me for almost 1/2 a mile!

            The chihuahua got dangerously close a couple times (I didn’t have a lot of energy left) and I was having to talk myself into the idea that in this scenario I might have to kick a dog. It was horrible.

          2. Revanche*

            Same here. We walk our kid and XL dog together and I never have a problem until we run into someone’s small dog that thinks it needs to attack us. And the owners NEVER act like they have two brain cells to rub together. They’re not just endangering their own dog, they’re putting my kid at risk of being caught in a dog fight. My guy won’t initiate a fight ever but he will defend himself, or even worse, US.

          3. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’m still angry about a dog owner who let her dog bite my son, now aged fifteen, when he was in kindergarten. My husband would take him to school on a little trailer bike that attached to the back of my husband’s bike, and then on the ride home, they would go the long way around and enjoy a leisurely ride.

            On the way home one afternoon, this little yappy dog came charging down the driveway toward my son, and the woman called out to my husband, “Oh, don’t worry! He’s a sweetheart! He won’t bite!” Well, the dog charged straight up to my son and bit the hell out of his calf. There were puncture marks and blood and screaming and tears. My son was terrified of dogs for years after that. I hate people who won’t manage their pets, and it is usually the little dogs who are the worst monsters.

            1. The Unkind Raven*

              Kind of an uncool last sentence there. Sorry you had a bad experience, but whoa.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I meant that people are more likely not to manage their smaller dogs or to not view them as a threat to others, so it seems that bites are more likely to come from small dogs. And I expressed that while venting my spleen about the person who didn’t think their little dog would hurt anyone. Sorry for the slur against all little dogs.

                1. blackcat*

                  Meh, I was raised around horses, and I’ve known A LOT of nasty little ponies and miniature horses. It’s not a problem with the horses–it’s a problem with them not being properly trained because they are “cute” and “harmless.” I think the same thing happens with little dogs–people assume they don’t need to train them because they’re “harmless.”

                  I can count on one hand the times I’ve been bitten by full sized horses, but I’ve been badly bitten by small ponies/miniatures at least a dozen times. I have only ever been intentionally kicked by ponies. And I’ve spent far more time around full sized horses. Sure, a small pony can’t *kill* me by kicking me in the way that a larger horse can (just as a small dog can’t kill me but a german shepard can), but that doesn’t mean the animal should be allowed to be an asshole.

                  Horses, like dogs, have been domesticated for a very long time. Most are fairly easily trained because we have written that into their DNA over thousands of years. Owning such an animal means you’re responsible for teaching it appropriate behavior.

                2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  @ black cat: Yes, thanks. This is what I meant. Not that all little dogs are jerks, just that a great number of little dogs are allowed to be jerks because they’re “cute” and “harmless”. And when that dynamic is in play, I am irritated at the owners for letting their dog be a little a-hole.

                3. blackcat*

                  @ Mallory Janis Ian

                  I knew that’s what you meant, so I was trying to offer more support.

                  After talking to my mom, though, she pointed out that it’s not 100% training. Often very large horses (such as draft horses) will not be bred if they have an aggressive temperament even if they have other desired traits (such as particular coloring). Or if an asshole horse is going to be bred because it’s a champion, people make sure to breed it to only mellow horses. That’s because it’s really dangerous to have mean draft horse, and that danger outweighs other benefits of breeding it. I’ve never met such a draft horse, but imagine a mean 2000lb, 6.5 ft tall (to the shoulder) horse. That’s pretty terrifying.*

                  On the other hand, pony breeders select less for personality and more for appearance and size, leaving mean genes in the gene pool. Ponies are cheaper buy and maintain and there’s more of a market for them than very large breeds. That means that there are more, less reputable breeders out there for ponies rather than horses.

                  So, I stand corrected. Probably 80+% of asshole pony behavior is attributable to poor training, with the rest attributable to breeding.

                  I don’t know if something similar is at play for dogs, though. I’m sure a smaller percentage of dogs are bred by super responsible breeders when compared to horses.

                  *For perspective on how powerful/dangerous these very large horses can be: When I was 12, a draft horse stepped on my foot while I was petting him. I was wearing sturdy boots. My boot was destroyed and I ended up with 8 broken bones–including all toes–on that foot. I yelped, and the horse immediately realized what he’d done. He removed that foot and quickly shuffled around so that none of his legs were next to any people. He had clearly been trained to be careful with his feet and just messed up for 10 seconds. In those 10 seconds, he hurt a kid pretty badly.

                  On the other hand, the 350lb pony we had when I was a kid would step on people all the time. She was a sweetheart, but we never were able to train her to be careful with her feet. Some of the problem, though, is that when she would step on someone, she tended to be trying to cuddle. People would think she was being cute, and it didn’t hurt them. So she continued to get cuddles, rewarding the foot-squishing behavior. We were able to train her out of nipping, and I never saw her kick at anything, ever. Because her foot squishing was harmless (even to her BFF, a barn cat), she got away with behavior that would have been downright dangerous in a much larger horse. I view this as analogous to how some people can never train their small dogs not to jump, because EVERYONE pets the tiny dog when it jumps up on a knee. It’s a losing battle for even well-meaning dog owners.

          4. DeskBird*

            Chihuahuas are the second most aggressive dog breed. Number one is Dachshunds and number three are Jack Russel Terriers. No one really takes notice because they are all so small – but small dogs are usually much more likely to bite.

            The least The least aggressive breeds are Basset Hounds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Siberian Huskies, and Greyhounds. Bigger dogs are much better with children!

            I was once attacked by a crazed chihuahua at work – someone had one in the building and it went after me in the hall. But I was wearing tall boots that day so I just nudged it away. But it probably could have hurt a little kid.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I always wondered how much of the aggression of small dogs is driven by the fear that they must get when the whole world is large enough to squish them.

              Maybe bigger dogs are mellow because they know they could win in a fight. (of course, there’s the “not breeding bigger dogs w/ mean personalities” idea)

            2. whingedrinking*

              The thing about dachshunds – which happen to be my absolute favourite breed – is that they’re hunting dogs. The miniatures/kaninchen are very cute, but they’re just smaller versions of the standards, which basically bred to be on a permanent mission to mess up some badgers. The result is that you’ve got an ankle-height dog that is profoundly curious, determined to go down any hole or burrow it can find, and supremely confident that it can take on a vicious wild animal. They’re fairly smart dogs and can be trained, but they’re very stubborn and tend not to like strangers much. (On the other hand, they are ridiculously loyal and generally love their owners madly.)

  2. PolarBearGirl*

    As someone who also works at a non-profit, over and above the distraction/unprofessional factors, I would have concerns about liability for a toddler attending the events you describe AND about liability in case of an incident with a dog or even someone coming in and having a severe allergic reaction.

    As someone charged with the fiduciary well-being of the organization, this is something you absolutely should raise with the rest of the Board and the ED, who should be taking direction from you once staff issues begin to impact the viability of the organization.

      1. Liz*

        I used to have a scar where my sister bit me when she was two. She had strong jaws!

        Alas, it had faded by the time she was a teen, or I could have shown it to potential boyfriends.

    1. PollyQ*

      Yes! My aunt is quite allergic to dogs; she certainly couldn’t be in a room with one, and even the dander left behind once the dogs were gone would cause her problems. Cats, which are starting to creep into public spaces now, are much, much worse for her — instant asthma attack, even when the cats weren’t currently around.

  3. TotesMaGoats*

    I’ve got a toddler and I would do everything in my power to keep him away from meetings. He’s adorable and super smart, would probably add to the conversation (if we are talking about Paw Patrol) but that’s just not appropriate unless it’s an emergency. This doesn’t sound like that.

    I’d totally bring my cats though. :)

    1. Amber T*

      Cats are NEVER a distraction!

      Excuse me while I pick up everything my cat knocked off the table.

      1. KR*

        My cat would be a nightmare in meetings. She loves paper, so she would just waltz across the table and sit all over everyone’s notes.

        1. AnonyMeow*

          I might not mind that at all in most of the unproductive meetings I’m required to attend. ;)

          1. starsaphire*

            “All right, that’s all for new business. Next on the agenda, we’re going to discuss the Jones project and OH will you just LOOK at that floofy tummy…” :)

        2. Jinx*

          I’ve got one who sits on and eats anything made of paper, another who steals writing implements and licks people at random, and a third who insists that everyone in the room pay attention to her at all times. My cats are fail at meetings, by human standards. :3

          1. KR*

            Lillian’s favorite thing is to crinkle and knead paper. I pretty much can’t have any loose paper in my room because that’s how she wakes me up at 5:30 in the morning.

            1. Amber T*

              Mine does that with plastic bags. They’re super fun when you take a running start and dive bomb into them. Or to chew on.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I once had some (stupid, rude) dude bring his goldendoodle to a presentation I was giving at my dog-friendly workplace, where dogs were not typically permitted in meetings, and then let it off leash so it proceeded to run all over the conference room snuffling everyone. Once it became clear that the idiot was not going to control his dog, I just put my arm around it on its next pass (I was presenting sitting at a conference table, fortunately) and finished my presentation while scratching the dog continuously.

            I wouldn’t recommend the guy do it ever again, but I enjoyed it. I grew up with dogs so I have dog-scritching autopilot. It was one of the better editions of that presentation, too.

            1. De Minimis*

              I had a job interview where the owner had a dog in the conference room while he was speaking with me, and the dog kept snuffing and checking me out. It was a bigger dog, too.

              To be fair, the owner warned me through all our communications that his dog was there and had the run of the place, but I was surprised that included interviews and meeting. The owner also kept getting up during our talk to let the dog in and out, which was really distracting.

              1. Artemesia*

                I was in a formal monthly meeting of a department where an employee brought her dog and then let it pee on a pee pad under the table (giant standard poodle, very loud pee event). The tolerance of her bringing this dog ended with that meeting. It was a nice dog, but really?

        3. Silver Radicand*

          Yeah, my cat has the odd tendency to steal paper items, particularly mail, and “deliver” it to random other places in the house. We were really confused why my roommates’ mail kept ending up in my room or hallway and vice-versa until he caught her doing it one day.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            That’s funny! My cat doesn’t pay any attention at all to paper items. Her specialties are “hunting” folded pairs of socks and swatting unattended glasses of water. She hunts the socks out of the laundry basket, and she is only attracted to folded pairs. The way she carries them, they look like a little mouse or other small prey, and she makes a chirping sound like mother cats do when they’re bringing prey to their kittens.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              I had a cat who’d make a nest and fill it with yarn balls. Another cat would “help” with laundry – try folding shirts when your cat keeps yanking them away, and he was a Maine Coon so shirts were no challenge.

          2. nonegiven*

            I had a basket on a table under my mail slot. Now the basket has a cardboard box on its side to keep the cat from jumping in the basket and chewing the mail.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Haha, I’ve said before that it would be a bad idea to bring my cat to work. He’d fall asleep on my lap and then I’d be stuck there for the rest of the day! No meetings for me, can’t disturb the cat.

        1. Ife*

          The cat lead weight! When I work from home, at any given time there’s about a 50% chance there’s a cat either walking over my keyboard, laying on my wrists while I try to type, or otherwise physically attached to me. I am too much of a softie to yell at them and make them get down (and let’s be real, it’s not like they would listen anyway).

          The office cats at the vet’s office are so chill though. I wouldn’t mind an office cat like that. They just sit on their cat trees and squint at you.

      3. CMT*

        I lobbied my boss for months for a bring your cat to work day, but she turned it down. I have no idea why!

        1. nonegiven*

          My son works remotely. He has had to introduce his cat when she jumped on his shoulder or in his lap during video conferences.

          I think the talking may make her curious, she usually just lays on the window sill.

      4. ToxicNudibranch*

        My cat would totally stroll up to my boss (who she’s met and who she thinks exists solely to give her scritches) and hork a hairball on his laptop.

        Because that’s apparently what you do to people you feel safe with. Hork at them; preferably on their prized possessions.

        1. JaneEyre*

          Love this! Thinking of having a T-shirt made : “Hork at the One You Love”

    2. always anon*

      I find cats just as disruptive. We had one in our last office that was a nightmare. Batting things off desks, jumping on people’s computers and notes, biting and clawing at people. The last one particularly annoyed me because if a dog clawed or bit someone, people would demand for it to be taken away, but no one bat an eye at the cat because “that’s what cats do”. Not okay.

      1. K.*

        I don’t like cats, never have. I’d be far less likely to work in a cat-friendly office than a dog-friendly one (and I wouldn’t work in a dog-friendly office), and I would quit over being bitten or clawed. That’s ridiculous.

        1. always anon*

          I’m really wary of cats because I had one bit me when I was a kid. And I’ve known one too many people who think it’s adorable to let their cat terrorize other people or claim it’s just normal cat behavior, so I’m just not a fan of them at all.

          People don’t really apply the same rules to cats and dogs and they should. I do not think it’s cute if your cat decides it wants to sleep on my lap the same way I don’t think it’s cute if your dog wants to nap on me.

          1. K.*

            My friend’s girlfriend got mad at me once for moving her cat out of my lap. “He wants to stay there!” “It’s my lap and I don’t want him there. He doesn’t get a vote.”

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              My cat wants to sleep in my lap, too, and I let her if I feel like having a cat sleep in my lap. However, if I need to get up or I get tired of her on me or I just don’t feel like it at the moment, up she goes, whether she “wants to stay there!” or not.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I love cats, but I can totally get why people might be afraid of them, or unnerved by them. Totally.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I like cats because they are kind of evil but I also understand why other people would not like them for that reason.

              A local used bookstore, sadly since closed, had three shop cats. Two were functionally identical orange tabbies. One of the orange cats was nice and loved attention, and one of the orange cats was vicious and would grab your hand and bite the crap out of you while refusing to let go if you tried to pet it. You could never tell which was which until you actually touched the cat.

              There were two kinds of people who went to that bookstore: People who played Cat Roulette and people who did not. I was a Cat Roulette person. I thought it was funny.

              1. Nunya*

                The Macpherson clan motto is “Touch not the cat but a-glove”. Seems prudent.

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Ha. I can play Cat Roulette with only my one cat. Will she be sweet, loving kitty when I pet her? Or will she grab on to me and, securing my forearm with her front and back claws so that I can’t escape, sink her teeth into my hand? One never knows.

              3. Kimmy*

                This made my day. :-)
                Cat Roulette is SO going on my list of fantasy team names for this year.

              4. Snargulfuss*

                I grew up with a devil-cat. She hated everyone, me most of all since I wasn’t afraid of her. I’d hold her up and in the air and say “Get closer to Jesus.”

          3. Koko*

            Ugh those people who claim it’s normal cat behavior are the worst.

            I have cats and I can’t tell you how many people are so determined to pet my cats for as long as they want, that they will ignore every signal the cat is giving that it does not want to be petted (tail twitching, ears flattened), right up until the cat finally gives a warning swat, and then they act all shocked and hurt. “I was just trying to pet you! Don’t you love me? I love you!” And then they keep trying to pet the cat who just scratched them. And often get a more serious scratch a moment later and act offended again. And my cats are middle-aged and lazy. They are not at all rambunctious or quickly provoked.

            It boggles the mind. It’s like their ego can’t handle the thought that the cat doesn’t like them, or like they think cats are bound by the same social conventions as people and that telling the cat “I love you” will make it tolerate being petted?? But maybe they’ve just had too many other people tell them that scratching is “normal” so they don’t realize that if the cat was happy with what they were doing it wouldn’t be scratching them? It is so obvious to me when a cat is displeased I don’t understand how it could be interpreted any other way.

            1. SJ*

              I adopted my first cat last year (coming up on 1 year — omg!), and she’s one who tolerates petting for a certain period of time and then gets fed up. Her warning signals are extremely obvious, so it didn’t take me long to learn them and get my hands out of the way in time, but my friends constantly ignore the warning signs and then get surprised when she attacks. I actually had a friend and her boyfriend cat-sit for me some months ago, and I emailed them detailed instructions about the warning signs and when to stop touching her (“She’ll follow you all over and hang out and play! Just stop petting her when you can tell she’s done”), and when I came home I found out she had bit the boyfriend. Not hard enough to break the skin, obviously, but he just didn’t listen.

            2. Papyrus*

              This is sort of dark, but one theory on why a lot of serial killers (with female victims, mostly) kill cats when they were young is because cats are selective in their attention. You can be incredibly sweet to a cat, and they’ll usually reward you with indifference – and I guess this manifests itself as the serial killer not taking rejection from a woman well because they treated them “nicely”.

              Of course this is just a theory, and I’m not saying that people who don’t like cats are serial killers. Before I got a cat myself, I admit I was mystified the first time a cat whapped me or bit me after petting it too much. Now, I’ve learned to accept all their weird behavior and quirks.

            3. Bowserkitty*

              My cousins have a cat who I absolutely adore but my entire family’s consensus is “Noodle bites.” So I was expecting some crazy cat when I finally met her and she was the sweetest thing. It became clear to me she wasn’t being petted in a way she agreed with because she never bites me. (Conversely, she drools on me when I give her attention. It’s glorious.)

              1. TotheM*

                Our family friends had a cat who was “mean, she bites if you pet her.” Really she only bit if you petted her back end, and those ears would go back first so you could see she wanted you to stop. Turns out she was getting arthritic and petting her hips hurt her.

                I think the general consensus here is, biting and scratching is definitely not normal cat behavior.

        2. Zillah*

          Ditto. I’m particularly tense around cats when I have nice clothing on – dogs may get my clothes dirty, but cats often climb on me and poke holes in them with their claws in the process. Ugh.

          1. Koko*

            I don’t get people who don’t trim their cats’ front claws. It’s such a basic minimum part of cat ownership to me. You only have to clip them every couple of weeks and then your cat can make all the happy biscuits on your arm/leg/chest that he wants without poking holes in your clothes or skin.

            1. SJ*

              In my case, she just won’t let me trim her nails. I’ve tried everything under the sun to get her to cooperate, but she absolutely hates all kinds of grooming and runs away. I live alone so I don’t have a second person to help wrap her up in a towel burrito and hold her while I trim. I take her to the groomer or the vet to get it done, but I don’t get the chance to like clockwork, so my cat’s nails get longer than I would prefer sometimes. (Not TOO long that they dig into her paws or whatever, but I get the occasional accidental scratch.)

              1. Amber T*

                My parents have one cat who now is too told to care, but when he was younger he HATED having his nails cut. He was a sweetheart 99% of the time… loved to cuddle, loved belly rubs, loved to purr, but the second you sat him down on your lap to trim his nails he became a spitting, hissing mess. I used to be in charge of holding him on my lap with a small pillow over him (the corner tucked close to his mouth so he could bite that instead of my hand) and a towel or blanket over his head. It still usually took two or three attempts to get all four paws down.

                (Still better than declawing!!)

            2. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Some cats tolerate it better than others. One of my cats doesn’t love it, but will stay still long enough for me to do it. The other cat… I usually end up looking like I lost a fight with a porcupine or holly bush.

              1. Koko*

                The feral-born kitten I rescued took a long time to come around to it, but he eventually did. I trained him with the same method I used to get him to tolerate me picking him up for brief periods of time (when needed to move him, I don’t pick him up just to hold him because he really does hate it).

                Basically I would wait until he was really relaxed, then start the process, and as soon as he started to be like “wait I don’t want this!” I would stop, pet him, give him a treat, and then leave him alone. Early on I would be able to trim about one claw per day! Then it was a couple of claws, then it was a whole paw, and now in his mellow middle-aged years he will let me do both paws with only a little bit of protest (that low rumbling cats make when they want you to know they’re just tolerating what you’re doing).

                I explicitly don’t wrap him in a towel or significantly restrain him because being restrained just makes him freak out more. I just pull him into my lap with his back to me, stroke him a little, and then lift his paw at the wrist from behind and clip one nail at a time. If he pulls his paw back I let go and let him have it back, stroke him a little, and if he hasn’t left my lap after a minute I pick it back up and continue clipping. If he leaves I just grab him again an hour or two later and resume the process. When he makes it to the end of the process he gets treats.

                The other cat is super mellow and didn’t need any special training!

            3. ThursdaysGeek*

              It also makes it much safer to play Slap Cat with them.

              That’s where you try to gently slap the back of their front paw and they try to slap your hand first. You gotta be fast. And if their claws are long, you really lose!

            4. jhhj*

              I would love to trim one of my cats’ front claws. Every few months (or more) I can get ONE CLAW trimmed. Only cat I’ve ever failed at this with. I even tried drugging her. She just will not let me have at it, and will attack me if I try. She’s good at only scratching appropriate surfaces though.

      2. Koko*

        I would never bring my cats to work because they hate riding in cars and they hate being taken to unfamiliar places, but that cat does sound like a nightmare! My cats are middle-aged but they are nowhere near that…”active.”

        When I work from home sometimes they do annoy the crap out of me and I have to shut them out of the room. But the extent of their being annoying is standing at my feet meowing pitifully every 30 seconds because they want to be fed midday even though I have never fed them any time but morning and evening. They know the desk is off limits so they don’t jump up onto my workspace, and they haven’t played the “bat things off the table” game since they were kit-teens. They spend most of the day napping in the nearest patch of sunbeam in between trips to their litter tray or food dish, with the occasional detour to go look out the window and twitch their tail at the sight of birds.

        1. Amber T*

          My cats are allowed on my desk at home because I usually don’t work there – when I’m home I’m usually just dinking around on the internet, so they’re fully allowed to sit on my lap or next to me on the desk and get pets (I even have a cardboard box specifically for them so they’re not tempted to “accidentally” sleep on my keyboard). The few times I’ve worked from home they had no idea what was happening… papers to sit on! Pens to chew on! Notebooks to knock off the desk! They were none too pleased when I locked them out of my bedroom.

        2. Ife*

          The idea of bringing my cats to the office… As soon as they got out of the carrier they would bolt and it would become a search and rescue. The little white one would never be found.

      3. blackcat*

        My cat only bites you have pissed him off. And 99.9% of the time, there are clear warning signs.

        He does occasionally claw at me, but it is always slow, with one claw outstretched. If he aims for a place where I’m wearing clothes (eg, upper arm, not hand), it’s just enough to hook on my clothes and not touch my skin. His goal is to pull whatever part of my body he’s reaching for close enough to lick. Then he’ll do a claw-less hug to hold me in place. It’s actually kind of adorable.

        There are definitely cats who do not bite or claw aggressively (even while playing with a person). But I have never met a cat that does not bat things off of desks. I have met cats trained to not jump on desks, but never one who would not knock pens off a desk once they were there.

        1. Liz*

          Mine doesn’t knock things off desks! He’s just never had the urge. And the sound of things falling scares him, although I doubt he’s really smart enough to make the connection.

          On the other hand, he’s prone to shocking outbursts of aggression, which is why we now live alone, in a small flat with no other people to bite and no neighbour cats to scare him into attack mode.

    3. 42*

      As a former toddler myself, I can tell you that I would have gone out of my mind at a meeting with all grown ups, and it would have been a bad idea to bring me along.

      1. VideogamePrincess*

        I really do wonder what that woman is thinking. Maybe she doesn’t trust the idea of daycare?

      2. Koko*

        I had a boss who very occasionally (maybe three or four times a year) brought her 5-7 year old into the office, and she always had plenty of stuff to occupy her. Coloring books, story books, and a portable DVD player with kid-appropriate DVDs she could watch on headphones. Plop her down in the corner with a Barbie DVD and you wouldn’t hear a peep from her.

        1. KTB*

          Our graphic designer’s kid (7yo) came into the office a couple of times this year, but she’s awesome and incredibly well behaved.

          Bonus: she played a very clever April Fool’s joke on us during her last visit. She talked her dad into letting her bring vanilla pudding into the office in a mayonnaise jar, and at least six or seven of us commented on it when we noticed her eating it. It was hilarious, and she was thrilled.

        2. Lily Evans*

          Some kids are so well behaved like that. And then you have my old co-workers pre-teen who would come in during vacation weeks and would spend half the day whining about how bored/hungry/tired/uninterested in doing homework she was. It was super annoying.

    4. INTP*

      My limited experience with cats is that they are totally uninterested in your work until you are frantically trying to meet a deadline, and then they absolutely MUST take a nap on your keyboard or chase your cursor across the screen.

      So they would probably be well-behaved in the boring meetings when you want a distraction, but start climbing on people’s heads and batting all the pens off the table during the one or two meetings per year when you need to pay attention :)

      1. Alix*

        Hah, my mother’s cat’s favorite spot to nap is on my mother’s arm … while she’s typing on her laptop. Unfortunately, she’s a teacher, so that’s usually when she’s grading or doing lesson plans.

        The last I heard, the two of them have still not come to an accord.

  4. ZSD*

    As a person who is child-free by choice and doesn’t like dogs, my first reaction to this was to just shut it down and tell people they can’t bring in kids or dogs.

    But, trying to be more sympathetic, do we know why this woman has to bring her toddler with her? Is the childcare she has arranged unreliable, or does she actually not have a regular childcare provider? If the latter, is there some way the organization can help with that? Do you pay your employees enough to allow them to afford childcare? If that’s not the problem, is there an HR person or someone else who could help the employee find a good childcare option? I know that’s not really their job, but I think it might be a caring way to approach the situation.
    If the employee can afford childcare, knows about good childcare options, and just chooses to bring her toddler to work anyway, then I’m less sympathetic. And either way, bringing the child to specifically 21+ events makes no sense!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I feel the same way you do. I’m also childless by choice and am not a dog person (I like them, but I wouldn’t want one and some of them scare me a bit). My first instinct, like you, would be to shut it down. But I wouldn’t want to come across as uncaring either and would try to find out why she’s bringing her kid. It could be she can’t afford daycare, or has very unreliable childcare. Or maybe she thinks it’s not a problem since no one has said anything to her.

      1. Elliot*

        I wonder if it’s something she negotiated with her boss. If talking my child to work was part of what my employer agreed to at an offer, I would be very upset if it were changed. Nonprofit positions are often low paying, and daycare is expensive. I work in nonprofit with a kid in daycare and pay about half my income to it.

        I actually had a part time evening position where I brought my child to meetings. My boss decided suddenly to have forty five minutes long meetings (less than one hour at minimum wage) on my day off. My son’s daycare was half an hour away one way and it would have cost me double what I earned plus gas and an extra two hours time to have him cared for. Instead of rescheduling the meetings, my boss allowed me to bring him, and it was a great perk for me. I brought him to work sometimes, too. The ability to bring my son kept me happy in that position at a very low wage for a long time. But my son isn’t generally disruptive, either. I’d bring him a big lollipop and he’d sit with it for most of the hour, or I’d send him in the break room to schmooze attention off all the ladies who loved to see him. Sometimes the bring your kid to work arrangements work out, and I wish more offices would be more open to the idea in positions that can accommodate out.

    2. AF*

      I was thinking about that too. I’m also curious as to the conversation(s)/requests that brought them to this point. Did the employees get permission from the ED? Did someone else on the board okay this? If it was approved, she’s likely going to be very unhappy with a new rule.

      I was on the board of an org and we allowed one essential employee to bring her infant to two board retreats, because they were out of town, and lasted several days, and she didn’t have child care that would cover overnights. It was pretty much fine, and most people loved having a baby there. She removed herself when he was fussy, which was infrequent, and it didn’t affect the meeting. But he wasn’t walking or talking, so that likely would have complicated things.

      1. AF*

        Just to clarify – I totally agree that toddlers should not be in meetings. Or dogs (because allergies, distraction, cleanliness) – and I love kids and animals. But since the employee has already grown accustomed to this “rule,” changing it will be met with resistance and should include potential alternatives mentioned above, if possible.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I bet there was never a conversation. I bet the person just started bringing their kid, and the ExecDir didn’t have the bravery to say, “Don’t bring your child anymore.” Maybe instead she said, “Why did you bring your child?” And the employee said, “Well, I brought him, and they don’t mind.”

      3. Callie*

        Infants are different. They mostly sleep and they don’t go anywhere or get into anything. Once they are mobile and more aware of their surroundings, forget it.

        1. Rana*

          This is true. When my daughter was a baby, I did take her to a few organizational meetings, and she mostly just slept. But now? While she is a pretty calm and self-controlled toddler – I probably could keep her quiet and occupied during a meeting if I absolutely had to, because she’s that sort of kid – but I can’t imagine that I would be of much use during that meeting. All my attention and energy would be directed towards her, not the meeting.

      4. INTP*

        Even if it was approved, though, I think it’s fair to give the ED a heads up about how distracting the child is. Sometimes those situations don’t work out. The ED can decide whether keeping the employee happy is worth reduced productivity, or issue a warning to keep the child quieter, or say “This isn’t working out” and offer other arrangements. I think a reasonable person would understand, when an arrangement to bring a toddler to meetings is made, that the arrangement is contingent on the child’s good behavior and might be revoked if it proves disruptive to business. (Of course, a parent’s idea of excessively distracting toddler behavior might vary from everyone else’s, so conflict could happen, but that’s life.)

    3. Cafe au Lait*

      I’ve mentioned this before on another thread, but I was the toddler at work. My infant sister died when she was less than a month old, and my two-year-self was an absolute wreck. I needed my Mom.

      My Mom went to her boss to resign, and her lovely, wonderful boss said “Bring Cafe to work with you.” Obviously being so young I don’t remember if I went to meetings or not. Probably. I’m sure I supplied with drawing paper and a pencil. It also helped that my Mom’s coworkers adored me, and were pretty kid-friendly.

      A couple of suggestions to handle it:

      * Dogs stay out of the meetings, toddler attends with parent. No, it’s not ‘fair’ to the dog owner, but dogs can be left by themselves for periods of time where toddlers can’t. If the dog can’t be left alone, then that’s a larger issue altogether.
      * Purchase a toddler table and stash it in the corner. Stock it with scrap paper and washable markers.
      * Purchase a couple of small toys/puppets. The toddler will be occupied while the parents is having the meeting. Yes, there will be some disruptions, but it won’t be as bad with the dog & toddler combination.

      1. Revolver Rani*

        This is a sweet and sad story – thanks so much for sharing it. Though it was a long time ago, I’m sorry about your baby sister. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a toddler to try to process that, or for the grieving parent who wants to protect and soothe her. <3

        1. Cafe au Lait*

          Thank you. It’s been over three decades since she died. My parents had two more children, and, in truth, sometimes I forget about my sister. I have a few memories of her, but since she’s not in my day-to-day memory bank, I sometimes forget that I have three siblings not two.

          1. Anna No Mouse*

            Thank you for posting about this. My 10 month old nephew died last summer after a battle with leukemia. He left a 4 year old sister, who I do think is coping with it the best that she can, but I worry about her a lot. Fortunately, her parents are amazing, and it’s okay for her to talk about Maxwell as much or as little as she wants.

            1. Cafe au Lait*

              I am so sorry that is happening to your family. Please accept my condolences; a child’s death is one of the hardest things to experience.

              It’s great that your niece can talk about her baby brother as much as she wants. That’ll go a long way to helping her move through her grief. One of the things I learned in therapy is that children grieve at every life cycle. (A life cycle is about every twelve to eighteen months). She probably won’t be ‘finished’ grieving until college, or her early twenties. (That way my experience).

              I have a suggestion of help. My Mom tried to find a therapist that would work with a young child. She called one office, they said “Oh, I am so sorry for your lost. Sadly, we can’t help; here’s a number of some place that might.” After three or four calls like that, she gave up. It was too hard. If there’s not a child grief center where your brother or sister lives, taking time to make those calls would be immensely helpful.

      2. Prismatic Professional*

        That sounds absolutely horrible for both you and your mom. I’m glad her boss suggested a situation that worked for your mother and yourself. However, I feel this is an exceptional circumstance that warrants the bending of a rule in order to keep a valuable employee. I don’t think toddlers in the workplace should be a common thing (if there is a company sponsored day care onsite, that is different).

        It is awesome that you provided concrete suggestions for mitigating the situation if it does happen. :-)

        1. Cafe au Lait*

          You’re absolutely right that my situation was an exceptional circumstance. It’s one that I hope most people never have to experience. Since the OP didn’t specify if this was office culture or an exceptional circumstance, I wanted to chime in with my experience :-)

          I just thought of a fourth solution: OP, if the toddler is there due to a coverage gap (i.e. parent 1 works 8am-5pm, but parent 2 works 9am-7pm, but daycare closes at 3*, shift your meetings earlier in the day. No one likes to have morning meetings. But this might be a solution that allows less finger pointing and maintains the general office harmony.

          *: It happens. I’m researching daycare providers right now, and I’m shocked by the limited hours many of them list on their websites. Of course, their “after care” rates are astronomical.

          1. Letter Writer*

            Hi Everyone,

            Thanks for your thoughtful responses. The employee with the child has access to childcare and a spouse, but it seems that because of a spoken agreement with the ED she is able to bring her child to work and to work related functions. There are toys and other things in the office to occupy the child, but she’d usually rather be with mom/move about the office freely (it’s a small office, total of 5 staff). I’m going to suggest calling in to meetings (since she does have the option to work from home) and shifting meetings to different times when her spouse is available since I think she prefers that her child stay with family.

            Alternatively, I can also call in to meetings, but that doesn’t address the larger issue of the organization cultivating a professional space in their office. As someone who has worked at small NPOs I get that there are some perks to working at a small org with extreme flexibility. But I really haven’t experienced anything like this. I’m hoping with some feedback they’ll consider some changes.

            I brought up my general aversion to kids because I live in a particular state where folks marry young and have many children. Since I’m a 30ish single lady with no aspirations to procreate, I tend to be a bit of an anomaly around these parts and I generally try to be sensitive to the cultural norms, even though they boggle my mind.

            1. Mookie*

              Reproducing isn’t really a “cultural norm,” though, in that it is an aspect of all cultures and without it no culture would survive past the first generation.

      3. Manders*

        I was also a young kid who went to my parents’ workplace on occasion. They were both college professors, and it’s very hard for them to take time off work during the school year, especially when an elementary school goes on break while the college is still in session. There were some things that made it easier on their colleagues:
        * They both had their own private offices with solid doors they could close if I was being loud
        * When I was young enough to need supervision, I’d go in the corner of the room with some drawing paper. As soon as I was old enough to be left on my own, I’d stay in their office during class or meetings.
        * There was a daycare on campus, which is where I usually was through the toddler years unless I was sick
        * A group of professors formed a babysitting co-op so older kids could babysit younger ones when all the parents had to attend an adults-only event. It was also acceptable to have kids around at wine and cheese-type gatherings if they were well behaved.
        * Their class schedules usually didn’t overlap, so if I was sick or fussy I could be passed off to the parent who didn’t have to teach.

        I’m not sure which of these solutions would be possible in the OP’s organization. I do believe that having a toddler in the office every single day isn’t the way to go. Kids get cranky and bored when they’re stuck in offices all day–heck, I do to sometimes, and I’m an adult.

        1. Manders*

          And I’m sorry to hear about your sister. That’s a terrible situation, and it’s great that your mom’s office could be accommodating.

        2. SJ*

          I was a total bookworm as a kid, so on the occasions my mom brought me to work (she was a 7th grade English teacher), she’d plop me in a desk in the back corner with a stack of books. and I wouldn’t make a peep all day.

      4. Kiki*

        I was the child at work too. In the sixties! My mom moved from steno pool during the war (WWII – that one) to VP of Accounting at a family owned male dominated firm by the time she retired. (looking at that now, she was pretty badass but at the time she was mom) Some days I didn’t have care. I was expected to sit quietly in my chair and color or read my book, use my allowance to buy treats at the cafe, and find my way to the restroom on my own. It was boring, but I always got ice cream on the way home if I behaved well enough!

      5. A Bug!*

        Colouring is a great activity because it’s about as quiet as you can get! I prefer wax crayons over markers or pencil crayons, because not only are they quiet in comparison to the other two, they’re lower-maintenance. A wax crayon doesn’t dry out and it doesn’t break – it just becomes two smaller crayons.

        1. TL -*

          Coloring did not hold my attention for longer than five minutes as a child. :P

          My parents own their own business and when I went in, I only had to behave when customers came in, so for 5-10 minute stretches. I could do that (barely) but unless I was sick I was *not* good at behaving all day.

    4. Chickaletta*

      I agree that it would be worthwhile to find out why this woman needs to bring her toddler with her everywhere and then try to solve the problem from there. I have a toddler too and no way would I want to bring him to meetings. Even when I have meetings in my home I try to schedule them when he’s not at home or at least when my husband can watch him. As for the dogs, just no. I love animals, I love pets, but there is no reason why they need to be at a workplace where they cause a distraction.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I wonder if this was a situation where the employee was ok’d to bring an infant, which worked out ok, but isn’t working so well now that the kid is older but no one has said “whoa, this isn’t working, stop.” Or it’s working well enough the rest of the time, but not in meetings.

        I also wonder if this is just a fundamental mis-match between a Type A-ish OP/board who want quick, efficient 1 hour meetings and a more laid back staff/organization that isn’t fazed by meetings running over due to dog and kid distractions, tangents, side topic discussions, etc. Has OP been on the board a while and this has progressively been getting worse and worse, or is she new and “coming to the nuisance”? Either way, I think it’s good to bring it to the ED, but if OP is newer it may be good to bring a side of humility, as in “I am really committed to this organization and I want to be a part of it, but when we schedule a 1 hour meeting I really can only commit to 1 hour, and our meetings are always running over.” and then trying to “brainstorm” with the ED how to fix that as opposed to coming in with a “You’re doing it all wrong [according to me the brand new outsider] and must change everything!” attitude.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Agreed, especially on that last point. If the event is not for kids, then kids don’t belong there. Some people don’t seem to realize that children do not need to do everything adults do. (Disclaimer: I like kids, unless they’re acting bratty or are someplace they shouldn’t be.)

      Not work, but my meetup group occasionally has get-togethers that are more adult-oriented (Cards Against Humanity, for example), and they announce ahead of time that it’s 18+. If someone showed up with a six-year-old for example, I like to think they’d be politely asked to return at another time. Fortunately, it hasn’t happened because the members are reasonable people.

      Now if someone got pissy about kids when we went to mini-golf, which is a very kid-friendly venue, that would be on them.

  5. BRR*

    Dog lover here, you should absolute try to push rules for having dogs in the workplace. If a dog doesn’t get along with other dogs they shouldn’t be allowed in the office.

    I think the toddler situation might be more difficult. However you handle it, the solution is NOT to pass them off to other employees to babysit.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Also, “not getting along with other dogs” in an office environment should be a different definition than the one that applies at the dog park. If your dog’s reaction to seeing another dog is to give a happy bark and chase the other dog in an attempt to initiate a friendly romp session, that’s fine at the park but disruptive in an office. It doesn’t have to be aggressive to be distracting.

      1. BRR*

        Good point. A disruptive dog doesn’t belong in an office even if it’s happy.

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Dogs and toddlers do not belong in workplaces on a regular basis.  Requesting that they be removed is completely realistic and professional.

    Barring any last minute childcare slip-ups, bringing a toddler to work on a regular basis should never be an option.  The fact this employee is bringing her toddler to 20+ events is even worse.  You have every right and obligation to question how this organization is being run with the dog and toddler factors in mind.

    You mentioned not being a kid person.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not relevant here.  You can adore children and also believe that they do not belong at professional events filled with adults.  One doesn’t cancel the other out so I hope you don’t let your opinion of children make you feel guilty or question your approach to this.

    I can’t wait for the update.

    1. AnonInSC*

      True. But I seem to attend a lot with people who act like them. I swear my toddler at home is more reasonable than some adults ;)

      Overnight retreats and infants are a totally different category. There’s being flexible and making accommodations and then there is just crazy. (And I’m someone who’s boss loaned his car to a coworker to come to my house to keep an eye on my sick child so I could attend a critical meeting at least by phone.)

      And I’ve outed myself to about 10 people who know that story :)

  7. Michelenyc*

    I am also not a kid person and my biggest pet peeve are people that bring their kids to work. I don’t find it cute and no I don’t need them to help me rearrage my fabric samples. I am a dog owner and in the past have taken my dog to work. My dog however, was not allowed to run around whenever the mood struck him, plus he is fairly lazy and prefers my lap or the top of my desk to lounge. If I had a meeting he either sat on my lap or was baby gated in my office to snooze in his snuggle sack. I have mentioned in a previous post that my last dog friendly office was a nightmare. The owners dog ran around peeing and pooping whenever the mood struck her. So glad to be out of that place!

    1. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I’m also not a kid person. I have never worked somewhere where it was ok for someone to bring their child to work, other than the occasional, “Child care canceled, grandma is picking up the child in about an hour, he’s going to sit here quietly coloring until that time.” Or the parading of the new baby through the office by the new parent, before it goes back home where it belongs. (And by that I mean that offices are germy places, not where I would want to take my newborn!)

      I like dogs (and have one) but I don’t think they belong in an office either. My dog is reactive and doesn’t do well with other dogs, so even if I did work in a dog-friendly office, she would stay home.

  8. Roscoe*

    I love kids and dogs. But I also hate meetings that go overly long. So the puppies and kiddies would need to be wrangled somehow. Does everyone need to be physically present in those meetings? Like could some people dial in from their desk or something so the kids and dogs could not be there?

    1. Sarah Nicole*

      That’s a good idea, maybe everyone doesn’t need to be sitting right there, especially if they can keep either their child or dog quiet in their own office and dial in.

  9. Aim Away From Face*

    You don’t like children? A lot of people don’t, and that’s OK. Do NOT feel guilty about that.

    Good on you for recognizing the *potential* bias you may have, but do NOT apologize for it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m not the OP, but thank you for saying that!! I’m childless by choice and don’t enjoy children, and often feel judged for it. I always hear, “Oh, but he’s such a good boy! You’d be a great mom! It’s different when you have your own!” But I don’t want my own, which is why I know I wouldn’t be the best mom if it happened by accident.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’m a dad, and I love kids and babies in general, but there are quite a few other peoples’ kids that I can’t stand to be around, especially unexpectedly in public. Even the ones I like, I would not want to have to try to get work done with them around for the whole day anyway.

      2. Juli G.*

        I hate “it’s different when it’s your own”. Because it IS different when it’s your own and that’s very reassuring to a pregnant woman freaking out about their impending baby. It’s not an argument to have kids.

        1. Rana*

          Plus, “it’s different when it’s your own” doesn’t mean that having a baby suddenly turns you into a person who loves all kids. I love my child, I enjoy her company, and I like most of her young friends. Random strange babies and kids on the playground? Still disconcerting. I didn’t like most kids as a kid; becoming a mother hasn’t really changed that.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I have two kids and I like them just fine, but I have never had any tolerance for others’ kids (even when I was a baby-sitting pre-teen myself, it was obvious to me that I wasn’t really a “kid” person). Same for dogs. I have two of them, but I’m not the type of person who wants to pet your dog, roll around with your dog, be introduced to your dog, etc.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Thank you! I don’t want to pet your dog, roll around with your dog or be knocked to the ground because you’ve trained him to jump up onto people because “it’s adorable when he does it”.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I am a dog person, and I do not find that adorable.

          I like my kids and my dogs well trained. And not in meetings unless they have proven that they can stay quiet and not interrupt unless absolutely necessary.

          On the other hand, I’ve been in meetings where I wished I could just pull a toddler “things are too stressful, and now I will let out a high-pitched scream and be allowed to go home.”

        2. Katie Pi*

          People TRAIN their dogs to jump up?! The first 2 months after I adopted my dog was solid no-jumping training.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            When I was a kid, I trained my dog to sit when she wanted something. We had a solid no-begging/no jumping on people rule. She did a pretty funny happy dance for some people that she was really excited to see. It included arabesques but no physical contact.

            1. Murphy*

              My dog isn’t allowed to jump up either (he’s a lab, so that was a hard one to break). It’s hilarious when he’s super excited because he can barely keep his butt on the ground he’s wiggling so much, and he so clearly wants to jump up and say hi, but he never does. Good doggy.

          2. Viktoria*

            Lol, my dog is a weirdo and had to be trained to jump up on me. On me only. On command (“Pounce!”).

            But yeah, she doesn’t do it to other people and she does it to me only when I ask her to. A lot of people inadvertently “train” their dogs to jump up by praising them (petting) when they do.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I un-trained a coon hound to not jump by walking away every time she did. When she didn’t jump, I gave her lavish praise. And I threatened Ex and Stepkid with bodily harm if they didn’t follow suit; they did the most complaining about it! It worked–she was a smart little thing and eventually realized that jumping/clawing = no pets.

              1. Murphy*

                My dog as a kid would jump up and put his paws on your shoulders if you told him to “dance.”

          3. Anon Accountant*

            Yes. Our neighbor trained hers and a former coworker couldn’t understand why her brother was upset when her huge dog jumped up because he was just “greeting him”.

            Unfortunately some people do train their dogs to jump up onto people. Although I’d hope a workplace would ban a dog that jumped on people until it didn’t do that anymore.

          4. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Ugh, yes, we have a friend who thinks this is adorable. Our dog isn’t a jumper (no training on our part, that’s just how we got her). The first couple of times that friend came over after we got the dog, he patted his chest to get her to jump up on him. We had to scold the friend (not the dog), because nobody else thinks it’s cute when a 70-lb dog jumps on them!

      2. KR*

        I was thinking about this today. Like when my roommates dog wants to lick every part of me I don’t really like it, but when my dog does it I think it’s the cutest thing ever. When her dog is getting greasy and dirty, I don’t want to pet her at all but when it’s my dog I think he smells amazing all the time and it’s cute. I don’t like kids very much, but it’ll probably be different when/if I ever have my own.

        Except cats. I love all cats.

      3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I like kids a lot and still get annoyed with them (or their parents/guardians) when they are in places they shouldn’t be or behaving inappropriately for those places. I’m patient with infants crying on planes because I know they can’t help it, their parents are trying desperately to make them stop, and that both parents and kids would love to not be there – but I’m annoyed by four-year-olds kicking my seat back on a plane and the parent ignoring it, and I’m annoyed by infants crying in the movie theater at 9pm.

        1. Jaydee*

          One benefit I have found to being a parent is that it makes me much less hesitant to substitute-parent other people’s kids. I always felt weird before my son was born – like their parents would be thinking, “Who is this random, childless woman telling my child not to dive head first into the shallow end of the pool?” or “Why does Aunt Jaydee think she can tell my kids to sit down and stop throwing their food on the floor of the restaurant?” And I hope other adults will parent my kid if they catch him doing something mean or rude or dangerous. Especially as he gets older, his dad and I won’t always be there when he’s at sports practice or the playground or a friend’s house. He needs to learn that many other grown-ups will be in charge of setting and enforcing rules to make sure he and his friends stay safe and don’t do things that are mean or rude.

    3. Shell*

      This. I’ve stopped adding “sorry” when I tell someone I’m not a kid person.

    4. Letter Writer*


      I mentioned in a previous reply that because I live in a state that really values people having many, many children (and because I’m 30ish and unmarried with no kids) my opinion often isn’t the norm. I’ve gotten better about not apologizing for this, but it’s always nice to be reminded.

    5. LBK*

      I don’t think the OP was necessarily feeling guilty about not liking children, but rather questioning if her personal dislike of children was clouding her ability to accurately judge if this was an inappropriate situation. As someone who also doesn’t like kids I personally hate random days when coworkers bring them in, but I also understand that I’m biased and that a few days a year isn’t a big deal. It’s unreasonable for me to expect a 100% ban on children in the office just because I don’t like having them around.

  10. Sarah Nicole*

    I know it’s not a popular thing to say, but I can’t stand being around small children when I’m trying to get something done or focus. I just can’t help it, and I’m not a fan of kids in general. I just don’t think work is the place for children at all unless it’s an emergency or an occasional solution to a childcare problem. And I know some people feel that way about dogs, especially if they’re noisy or don’t get along with each other. I love that companies are offering more flexibility to people and it would be so cool if my dog could come to work with me, but I just wonder where the line should get drawn with these situations. It seems like such a subjective thing to say, “Your dog can’t come because it’s disruptive, but her dog can come because it stays laying down all day.” I just wonder how many offices go through issues with coworkers thinking there’s a double standard about policies like that, even if it’s a reasonable stance to take.

    1. BRR*

      I think it’s fine though to not treat all dogs equally. My neighbor’s dog barks when it sees a person. Probably shouldn’t be in the office. Mine is quiet but might not nap in a new environment. So probably not a great idea to bring him in. plenty of dogs would be fine sleeping all day.

    2. KR*

      I think it’s okay to have those kinds of judgments! Every dog is different. I think if OPs workplace has a dog policy in place, they could have a rule where if you’re in a meeting and your dog is disruptive, you either need to find a way to calm them down and control them or not invite them to more meetings.

    3. Revanche*

      I think it makes perfect sense to treat dogs not equally: they’re not all the same. I think it’s actually objective to say if you’re going to bring your dog, it has to be well behaved (and I define that as quiet, calm, non-aggressive), be fully vaccinated, and so on. We have basic minimum expectations of professional dress and behavior for humans in the workplace and I think it’s sensible to do the same with dogs if they’re allowed. Some of past dogs met all the criteria but they were needy- I wouldn’t bring them either. The primary reason I’m at work is to work, after all.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        That’s a good point, we do make judgments and rules for people that come into the office, so it makes sense that dogs would also have to meet a certain standard. I’m more wondering if this has created issues in offices where dog owners thought theirs was “perfectly fine and behaved,” but someone else didn’t feel that way. I have no issue with there being standards, and I know my dog wouldn’t necessarily live up to them! I’m just curious as to how many problems this causes in workplaces in general.

      2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        My office is dog-friendly but has written policies that you have to sign-off on before you can bring your dog to work.

        There are very clear rules about acceptable and unacceptable dog behavior, including provisions for distracting behavior.

    4. davey1983*

      I have an issue with people saying it is OK to bring dogs (even with stipulations), but then turning around and saying people can’t bring in their kids.

      I actually argue that dogs should never be allowed in an office. Many people are allergic, distracted, or scared by dogs.

      1. Katniss*

        I’m fine with dog and kid friendly offices, as long as they’re up front about it so I don’t have to work at them.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I agree and I like dogs (and only like kids in small doses)! But I kind of equate them with kids, they are going to need your attention throughout the day and for me, it would not be conducive to focusing on my job. Dogs may not need to be entertained the same way kids do (though some do), but they’ll still need to go outside to do their business, be kept out of trash/food areas, be fed and given water throughout the day.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Don’t adults also need to use the restroom, eat, and drink throughout the day? (Most should be trained to stay out of the trash…) I think it really depends on the office set-up and culture. Also, if you work somewhere that already has dogs and/or kids around, that’s a different story.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Haha, yes, but I don’t need someone to take me outside to do my business!

            Actually, now that I think about it, I know a few office-mates who need some basic training… ;)

      3. always anon*

        I feel this way about any type of pets. No dogs, no cats, no birds or whatever else. People have allergies or fears (and yes, despite many people’s bafflement about it, people can be scared of cats).

        Unless it’s a service animal, I’m on the side of no pets in the office.

      4. Viktoria*

        Well, dogs and kids are a little different in that (some) dogs are perfectly happy sleeping all day. My dog comes to work with me and I can completely ignore her 90% of the time. I give her something to chew on and take her out at lunch and that’s it. I don’t know any toddlers who can do that though… my experience with little kids is that they’re pretty high-maintenance. Older kids who can sit and read or color or whatever? Then sure, I don’t see a difference.

        That is not to say that all offices should be dog friendly. Certainly not. But it’s fine for some to be, and people can self-select out. The main sticking point for me seems to be the allergy issue that has come up here before – then the office has a responsibility to find a workable solution that doesn’t violate the rights of employees to breathe freely.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        My argument would be for insurance liability reasons. I do actually like dogs, but I don’t think they belong at work every day. An occasional visit is fine if the dog is well-behaved.

        1. Lily Evans*

          I’d be doubly worried about liability when combining dogs and small children. It’s so easy for toddlers to get hurt. It wouldn’t even take an aggressive dog for something to happen. All you need is an over excited dog and a still wobbly on their feet toddler for an injury to occur.

    5. Viktoria*

      Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily subjective. Alison had a post recently with some resources for creating dog-friendly office rules. Whether a dog barks or growls or pees inside during the work day is objective, for example. You could have a 3-strikes you’re out policy, with a 1-strike policy for aggression, just as an example.

      My dog comes to work with me (very small office) and she literally sleeps in her bed under the desk 90% of the day. And I’m not sure she knows how to bark. I couldn’t bring my other dog because he barks at everything and is aggressive. It’s pretty straightforward, actually.

    6. Observer*

      I disagree with the idea that you can’t treat dogs differently. As others say, as long as the policy is clear, fair and fairly enforced, it is totally reasonable to do this.

      I really don’t think that the parameter you lay out is subjective. If you wouldn’t know that the dog was there unless you saw it, that’s a pretty objective difference from a dog that keeps people from talking or knocks things over, no?

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Yes, definitely. I think clear parameters and upholding those rules is very fair and probably objective in many offices. I’m just wondering how often people get emotional about being told their dog isn’t living up to the standard, and it creates an issue. I sort of think of it like some parents I see who insist their child is very well-behaved, but when I see the child I highly disagree. I can just see it playing out how an employee might get defensive about it. Not really trying to create an argument, just noticing this could be a hot button issue for some workplaces as not everyone will necessarily see the issue in the same way. But like you and some others have said, it would obviously be easier if there was a clear policy. I just don’t think every workplace is likely to have a clear and fair policy laid out for everyone, or at least not until after there has been some big problem around it.

    7. INTP*

      Yeah, I wonder about problems with policies like that too. A lot of people (at least in Southern California, land of codependent dog owners) are as sensitive about their dogs as their children, maybe even more so. People certainly seem to put less effort into keeping their dogs from annoying people than their children and expect others to appreciate their dogs as much as their children – I’ve never had someone’s child climb me or lick me and ask for help only to be told “It’s fine, he won’t bite.”

      I could easily see it creating resentment if, say, Jane thinks her dog is just spirited but gets kicked out of the office for being too annoying, and Jane had factored in the lack of doggie daycare when accepting her salary at the job. Or Bobby Jo thinks her dog was unfairly kicked out because she only behaves badly when Betty Jo’s dog is harassing her. Or the general, massively intensely hurt feelings people sometimes get when others dislike their dogs. (I don’t like dogs so I’ve encountered this even from people that don’t seem crazy – I can only imagine what the crazy ones are like!) I could see this policy getting very messy when someone’s dog has to be kicked out for being too annoying, or when there are conflicts between dogs and you have to decide whose dog stays home.

      1. Sarah Nicole*

        Yes, this is what I was trying to say above and you said it much better! Also I live in SoCal and totally agree with you, some people are so into their dogs that they don’t really have consideration for other people. I’m a crazy dog person, but my dog is in trouble if she jumps on people.

  11. Boo*

    Only thing I’d add to the other comments here is I would recommend you don’t mention your personal feelings about kids/dogs. I know (for me at least) it would be tempting in an over-apologetic sort of way where you feel like in order to get the other person to back down from being unreasonable you have to demonstrate some way that you’re not perfect either, but it will just de-rail things. Just focus on the disruption/liability aspects. Good luck!

    1. OwnedByTheCat*

      Yes – tons of people are saying “I don’t like kids/dogs so this would be disruptive.”

      I’m dog and kid obsessed and I would find this HORRIFIC TORTURE. Let me focus so I can get back to my own dog. This is just unprofessional and distracting. It has nothing to do with your penchance for toddlers or terriers.

      I worked in a school for many years where, at 3pm when students got out, our open concept office would be overrun with students. Basically meant my work day was interrupted for 90 minutes until their parents could finish work, and I’d have to stay late to make up for all the interruptions. I adored those kids, but it didn’t mean I wanted them around every day when I was trying to get work done.

    2. INTP*

      This is very true. I’ve literally been told by more people than I’ve kept count of that they don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like dogs (and I’m sure many outside my circle feel that about children). If you admit to not adoring dogs, those people will see you as the enemy and not consider your viewpoint valid. I honestly find dogs really gross and annoying, but I’ve learned to say “Oh I love dogs, but sadly I am SO allergic to anything furry” when I need to avoid one.

  12. jhhj*

    Toddlers are the worst age (at meetings). Infants can be fed and will often sleep if held, and older children can usually keep themselves busy. You probably don’t want to go to a “no children” rule at meetings (at the table at a conference is different; I’d exempt infants from that rule, probably), but you definitely want to make a “no distractions” rules. I would imagine that dogs in meetings could be fixed by requiring dogs to be crated when the owner is not at their desk but still in the office.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Actually, I’ve had the experience of someone bringing a baby to a meeting regularly, and it was extremely distracting, because the boss loved loved loved babies. On the one hand, we could have gotten her to sign off on anything when there was a baby around, on the other hand, we had a lot of the same conversation over and over again due to distractions.

      We solved the problem by rescheduling the meeting to a day that the employee was in the office regularly and had childcare taken care of. We framed it as the fact that we were working around her schedule. (In fact, this ended up being better all around.)

      I wish I had a dog in my office right now, but not if there are any allergy sufferers/people who are afraid of dogs. And my hypothetical dog would be quiet and well behaved and curled up at my feet.

  13. GigglyPuff*

    This is just such a sticky situation. Love dogs, love children, but please create rules and boundaries.
    Also kind of a pet peeve of mine: dogs & toddlers together. This can turn bad fast, even if it’s just the dog knocking the toddler down. This is why little kids aren’t permitted in most dog parks. My dog, totally prey driven, chases anything that’s running.
    (I’m not saying toddlers & children can’t be taught how to interact with strange dogs, just that this has the potential to turn into a liability, especially at a work place).

    1. KR*

      This – my dog loves kids and he’s wonderful around all of them. They can pull his fur and jump on him all they want and he’s jut happy for the attention. That being said I still watch him like a hawk whenever he’s playing with kids – especially those he doesn’t know because you just can’t predict when a toddler will accidentally hurt him or he might get overstimulated. I can’t picture doing this in a meeting.

    2. Manders*

      This is a really good point. I wonder how much of the distraction comes from having to constantly monitor the dog/kid interactions. Even well-behaved kids and well-behaved dogs need some supervision.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Absolutely! This is why I was thinking insurance liability–even adults can be bitten, but it often happens with small children because they have far less self-control or ability to tell when the dog thinks it’s time to back off.

    3. Rana*

      Thank you for saying this. Too many people are complacent about toddler-dog interactions. Both require supervision so that neither gets hurt.

    4. LQ*

      I get so stressed when I see unattended dogs and children together. If they are your dogs AND your children AND I know you won’t yell at me when one bites the other then not as big of a deal. But other than that super high stress. High enough stress that dogs, especially ones who know me can tell and want to defend me from the evil screaming monsters that are clearly causing the stress. Bad, bad things. The few times there have been children at the dog park when I have a vacationing dog we turn around and leave. Too much chance for trouble.

  14. Kyrielle*

    I love kids. I love my kids. They do not belong in an office, not even (maybe especially not even, actually) my kids (about whom I am, presumably, more biased…and I adore them, but just no, they do not belong in the office).

    The work disruption alone would be a sufficient reason to change. But there is also safety/liability to consider..

    If alcohol is being served at the 21+ event, is it legal for the kid to be there?

    Ignoring legality, and returning to the office, what if one dog bites or otherwise injures another? What if one of them bites or otherwise injures a staff member? What if one of them bites or otherwise injures (knocks into the wall in a display of exuberant affection, say) the toddler?

    What if the toddler, being in a space not designed for toddlers, gets into something they shouldn’t and breaks equipment and/or hurts themselves?

    1. Mike C.*

      Oh, the legality of a kid being at a 21+ event is a very good point. The OP should really look into that, given the near-infinite variability of such laws.

    2. Kasia*

      It’s legal for the kid to be there, as long as they aren’t serving the kid. In the same way it’s legal for a child to go with their parent into a liquor store. As long as they don’t try to buy alcohol.

      That being said, why anyone would think its appropriate to bring a child to a 21+ event is beyond me, and how no one has told her the child needs to stay at home during these events its even weirder.

      1. K.*

        Every so often a news article will pop up about whether parents should bring their babies and young kids to bars. Not “restaurants that serve alcohol,” but straight up bars. The answer, to me, is obviously no, but people do it – I’ve even seen bars with signs out front forbidding children, because people had brought their kids in. This will occasionally breed righteous indignation, because we seem to be moving away from the idea that certain things aren’t for kids. (My parents used to use that exact phrase with me and my brother all the time when we were little. “Can we go to that movie with you?” “No, it’s not for kids.” “Can we have coffee?” “No, it’s not for kids.”)

        1. irritable vowel*

          Well, I think it’s more that some parents don’t want to give up their pre-kids lifestyle than that we as a society are moving away from the idea that some things aren’t for kids. And/or they are so attached to their kids that they want to take them everywhere, like lapdogs. (I suspect that the employee in this situation belongs to the latter group, based on what the LW posted below.)

          1. Rana*

            Yes. This is definitely true in our area. People want to go and have beers with their friends like they did pre-kids; it’s not about giving beer to the kids. (Most of the parents around here finesse this by taking their kids to pubs early, like around 5 or 6, so as to avoid the more crowded adult bar scene.)

        2. TootsNYC*

          Miss Manners had a great argument about why to not take kids everywhere. Because it makes things like “dressing up to go to a fancy restaurant” seem really, really desirable. And it makes it easier to insist on specific behavior and dress.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          That was my parents’ response–and you know what? I grew up thinking there are some things that aren’t for kids, and I didn’t die because I wasn’t allowed to go see The Exorcist.

          I think irritable vowel nails it. But still–there are many adult activities that aren’t appropriate for kids (too late, too dangerous, too scary, etc.).

        4. LizM*

          I sometimes take my toddler to certain bars. But they serve food, and we go during the day, and there are lots of other families that go there frequently. One in particular gives kids sidewalk chalk on the patio. So I don’t think it’s a hard and fast rule. But there are definitely bars I wouldn’t take my toddler too, and even the one I’m thinking of, I probably wouldn’t take him to after 7 pm or so.

      2. TootsNYC*

        There’s also the idea that the toddler is probably messing up the “vibe” for the 21+ events. Who wants to go out drinking w/ other adults, and have someone’s little kid there?

        I love little kids; I especially like other people’s little kids (not my diaper change or my tantrum, whee!). But they totally change the atmosphere, and I would not want to go to an event where I’m hoping to socialize and chat w/ other events, and have a toddler there.

      3. Kyrielle*

        It’s not legal in Washington State if the area’s primary focus is for serving alcoholic beverages, so it would depend on exactly where the events are, for example – both by state/municipality (for local laws) and type of facility.

      4. Oryx*

        I’m not sure it’s legal everywhere — I’ve seen parents with a toddler try to get into a local casino and be turned away because the kid isn’t old enough. He’s obviously not going to gamble or drink but they wouldn’t let him in all the same.

      5. Callie*

        That depends on the state’s liquor laws. In Oregon for example, there are restaurants that have signs that say “no minors allowed” either at all or at certain times. And I was once with a group of college students at a conference in Spokane, WA, and we walked somewhere near the convention center for lunch and we ended up having to leave because one of our group was under 21 and couldn’t come in the building with us (we didn’t realize this when we picked the restaurant).

  15. RVA Cat*

    Once again Wednesday delivers….

    Also – “And is there liability to the organization if someone’s bitten?” – this may apply to the toddler as much as the dogs!

    1. LBK*

      I caught that too – I’d like to think Alison purposely left it ambiguous as to which party is most likely to be doing the biting.

  16. KR*

    I’m wondering how much notice these meetings are scheduled for. If there is a lot of notice, I think it would be reasonable to ask that the employees not bring their young kids to work on days where there are meetings or have someone come pick the child up/babysit in their office for the duration of the meeting. Same with dogs. However if meetings are usually scheduled with little notice, the employees might not have time to schedule a babysitter/make dogsitting plans.

  17. B*

    As someone mentioned above check with the ED first to see if the dogs and child were pre-approved, something that just happened, or a different set of circumstances you may be unaware of. By having that background I think you can proceed in a better manner. I would caution if the child and dogs are allowed to stay in the office but not in the meetings please make sure neither of them become the responsibility of other employees, especially assistants and receptionists who are prone to becoming the caretakers. These employees also have a job to do, may not wish to be come the babysitters, and many times will not feel empowered to say no.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Even if these were preapproved, they’re causing problems for our OP, and as a board member, the OP is empowered to bring them up.

      1. B*

        Agreed! I do think knowing the background can help to frame the issues and possible solutions.

      2. INTP*

        Agree. If the ED approved it then the ED should be the one to speak to people if rules change, but it is absolutely 100% reasonable for OP to give the ED a heads up that it isn’t working out so well. ED might have approved it picturing a toddler quietly coloring in the corner and dogs sleeping under the table, and be very interested to know that it isn’t working out and is ruining productivity. Actually, I’d argue that it might even be the OP’s responsibility to say something, since this seems like a major disruption to business.

  18. Allison*

    Poor kid. I mean, obviously their presence is annoying to the people working there, but kids don’t like being dragged to the office either! It’s like taking your kid to a fancy restaurant; any time you take a kid away from their playroom and put them somewhere boring with just a few toys and coloring books, and say they have to be quiet while the grownups do their thing, the kid is going to be bored, frustrated, and kinda mad at you, and even generally well-behaved kids might act up in that situation.

    It’s not unreasonable to have rules about pets and dogs in the office, and if someone feels they need to bring either on a regular basis despite the disruption they’re causing, try to work with them to find a better solution.

    1. Chinook*

      “It’s like taking your kid to a fancy restaurant; any time you take a kid away from their playroom and put them somewhere boring with just a few toys and coloring books, and say they have to be quiet while the grownups do their thing, the kid is going to be bored, frustrated, and kinda mad at you, and even generally well-behaved kids might act up in that situation.”

      I have to sort of disagree on this. If kids are brought up to understand that certain behavior is expected in certain places and expectations are clearly put in place that are reasonable for the age/personality of the child, kids can absolutely learn to amuse themselves quietly while the adults do their thing. I remember many times going to nicer restaurants (any place with cloth tablecloths) or out to the theatre at age 6 because we were prepped for it before hand. A toddler is the worst age for this (they are defiant with authority as they try to differentiate themselves form their parents) but it is possible if you teach them that it is expected (and are prepared to take them out if they decide that that is the moment they want to voice their defiance). I am still impressed by my 3 y.o. nephew who managed to be quiet during a long funeral mass and didn’t need to be distracted by the video game (with headphones) and quiet toys my brother brought along. I suspect there were bribes involved, but it was doable.

      1. Observer*

        Your nephew is definitely an outlier – this is NOT typical for a 3 year old. Yes, I’ve seen it, but it’s so uncommon that you REALLY cannot factor it into normal rules.

        There is also a HUGE difference between what you can expect from a 2-3 year old and a 5 -6 year old. At this age the few years make a world of a difference.

        It IS possible to get a toddler to behave at a fancy restaurant, but it takes a fair amount of attention on the child. Expecting a toddler to be totally non-disruptive while all the adults are ignoring her for an hour or more is not realistic, nor is it fair to the toddler.

        And, if there is a dog in the mix, it becomes even harder. Make that a pair of dogs that don’t get along, and even a well behaved toddler is going to act up.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I think it totally depends on the kid, too. My sister is only 18 months younger than me, my mom used to take me to plays/musicals fairly often and it was *years* before my sister could sit still and focus long enough to be able to go with us.

          And I’m sure even good kids can have bad days.

      2. Quiet*

        It should go without saying that there is a world of difference between a toddler and a 6-year-old. Particularly 1- and 2-year-olds. Most of them are tiny bulls in a china cabinet. I didn’t even bring my 1-year-old to a family member’s baby shower on Saturday. My MIL was pissed and several people gave me a hard time, but I knew that wasn’t gonna end well for anyone.

        1. Emmy*

          Good for you for being the parent! Not that you need anyone’s approval, but you said lots of people gave you a hard time! Shame on them! I’ve been to lots of showers and having a baby there that isn’t the guest of honor usually changes the focus to “Baby!” because “Baby!” I like babies. I like holding and talking to babies, but this was a party for your relative. You did what was best for the three of you! (You, baby and GOH)

      3. Amadeo*

        Pretty much this. If you teach a child to sit quietly with just a few amusements early on, they can do it, well, not effortlessly, but they can do it because they know it’s expected behavior and consequences if they don’t. Maybe they slip up sometimes, but on the whole, it can be taught!

        1. TL -*

          Yes but at what age the kid can do that at is highly variable. For <7 yr, I'd say 30-45 minutes would be the longest quiet period I would expect from an average kid; for <3 or 4, it'd be closer to 15-20 minutes. Some kids are going to be able to sit still for much longer at those ages but I'd argue that's more likely to be a function of personality than parenting.

        2. Observer*

          Sure, you can tech a child. But, no matter how good you are at parenting, and how much teaching you are doing, it’s simply developmentally inappropriate to expect a TODDLER to sit quietly on his or her own for 45 min to an hour. At 6 years old, it depends on the kid but it might be practical.

        3. Rana*

          Yes – our 2.5 year old has been good in restaurants her whole life – but it does require a lot of attention from us and location and time matter. 5pm in a largely empty restaurant? Good as gold. Crowded busy restaurant, less so. Family restaurant with other kids screeching? Oh, god, she gets the idea that this is okay and joins in. :(

      4. Callie*

        It really, really depends on the kid and it doesn’t always depend on “how they are brought up”. Children go through developmental stages and some things they just can’t help.

        1. TL -*

          Yes! My cousin’s kids – one is a super big people pleaser and very obedient but really struggles with sitting still. So even though he hates getting in trouble, he’s just never been very successful with sitting still.
          His brother, on the other hand, is much more defiant, but is just a much less wiggly kid. So he’s always been better at being quiet in public, even though he’s much more likely to argue with his mom and refuse to do what he’s told.

        2. Lily Evans*

          This is so true. Two of my favorite daycare kids (a brother and sister) were brought up the same way, but behaved completely differently. The brother was just a motor-mouth who was non-stop motion and I adored the kid, but I needed a nap after babysitting him for an afternoon. His sister, on the other hand, could spend hours sitting alone with just her baby doll and she’d be perfectly content. Nature vs nurture at it’s finest.

          1. Lily Evans*

            (And this is a comparison of them when they were at similar stages since I knew them for years. The brother chilled out a bit as he got older.)

    2. TootsNYC*

      I agree w/ Chinook. Neither she nor I are fans of taking kids everywhere (based on the wolf/bulldog story).

      But to say that kids can’t act appropriately is just as wrong and limiting as saying they belong everywhere.

      I’m all for having places kids don’t go, but if properly prepared, kids can handle a lot of stuff. And it’s good for kid to get that preparation and that *practice* by going to nice restaurants, funeral masses, etc.
      So requiring them to behave properly, etc., is an important step. You don’t do a kid any favors by leaving him in the playroom until he’s 10. You just have to pick the times and places, and prepare. A family member’s funeral mass is appropriate, if Mom/Dad/substitute are up for it. Any work function is not, at least not on purpose.

      We didn’t go to my grandfather’s funeral mass because my mother didn’t want to wrangle us; she said it’s because we were too little, but I really don’t think we were; we went to church every Sunday, after all. She just didn’t want the responsibility; it was too hard a time for her.
      And I wouldn’t bring a kid to work, because it DOES take a lot of energy to make sure they behave properly, and my energy is not available for that at work; my employer has purchased it from me.

      1. TootsNYC*

        It’s not that I think kids belong in meetings. It’s that the statement was:

        “any time…”

        and I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of kids either.

      2. Observer*

        You just have to pick the times and places, and prepare.

        That, and put the work in.

        That’s really the key issue here. There is a lot you can expect of even a toddler IF YOU FOCUS ON THE TODDLER.

        So, you can bring the toddler to a fancy restaurant, possibly, but you CANNOT put the kid in a high chair with a couple of toys and expect to spend the rest of your time focused on the adult members of the party.

        That’s why toddlers don’t belong at work (unless your job is taking care of kids.) They ARE going to be disruptive – either to your co-workers or to you (ie they are going to run around / make noise / touch what they shouldn’t or you are going to be busy with them rather than your work.)

      3. TL -*

        But you generally scale up, right? You start by taking your kids to McDonald’s or whatever and letting them blow off steam in the playpen but having to behave in the restaurant, then you take them to your family-friendly brunch place or kid-friendly short performances and when they’re good for about an hour, you think about taking them to other places where it could be two hours or whatever.

        So one kid might be able to do a nice restaurant, ect… at 5 or 6 and enjoy it (my mom, my younger cousin), and another might not be ready until 7 or 8 and only tolerate it occasionally. (me, my other cousin).

  19. BadPlanning*

    I remember going to all kinds of things when I was a kid. I think my mom took me to almost everything. Frequently when there weren’t other children. I vaguely remember playing in corners, other rooms, etc, but I’m guessing I was frequently the “Wait, why is that kid here?” kid. Alas.

    If the meeting is taking longer because of kids/dogs, I don’t the OP is out of line. I’m sure there are parents who specifically arranged their schedules to cover child care and are probably annoyed too.

    There are probably also people who aren’t crazy about dogs and may have a fear of dogs — or are at least nervous around rambunctious ones. The presence of unruly dogs may be driving away volunteers who don’t want to rock the boat.

    1. Allison*

      I love dogs, but unless I’ve been taking allergy medicines, being around dogs for more than a few hours can make me feel absolutely miserable. Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, the works. Why should I suffer because someone wanted to bring their precious fur baby to the office?

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Fellow allergy sufferer here too. I think it’s awful to suffer for hours because someone had to bring their dog to the office.

        1. Allison*

          And my coworkers keep talking about how they want our office to be dog friendly, because it would be sooo great if we could bring our dogs to work, and I feel like I’m being a party pooper when I bring up my allergies.

    2. irritable vowel*

      I’m sure there are parents who specifically arranged their schedules to cover child care and are probably annoyed too.

      This is a good point. Assuming that the person with the toddler has a salary in line with other people at the organization, and is not the only staff member to have ever had a preschool-aged child, you’re right that other people with small children have made other arrangements and would be right to be irritated that their coworker has not. I know many are single parents and/or don’t have a stay-at-home partner, but unfortunately arranging for childcare is what people who work in offices have to do. It’s not fair to anyone (even the child, as someone else pointed out) to allow one person to bring their baby to work while others have to pay for childcare.

  20. Katniss*

    I really don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to understand that if they bring their kids or pets into a public place, they should try their hardest to make sure their kids or pets aren’t disruptive to other people. Is it lack of common sense? Do they just not care?

    1. Chickaletta*

      I think you become immune to it after awhile. Kids have sooo much energy, and you have to tell them “no” dozens of times a day. So you learn to just live with this wild little creature and only step in when things get dangerous or really too crazy because otherwise you’d feel like the North Korean regime and you start to hate yourself, plus you realize that they’re KIDS. But, we also live in a society where the lines between kid-friendly and adult-only events are getting blurred and many parents don’t realize when to opt-out their kid from an event. And some parents are more immune to how their children behave than others, what one person finds acceptable another person does not and it comes down to personal preference and often those conflicting preferences find themselves in the same place at the same time.

      1. MaggiePi*

        This. I spend a lot of time with various friends with young children. It amazes me how immune they are to all the noise! I love their kids too, but boy, I can’t think or carry on a conversation when your one-year old is “happy shrieking” like a banshee every 20 seconds.
        It’s like people who become immune to their own smell or their houses’ (pets/smoke/other). They are so used to it they honestly don’t notice it at all and seem flummoxed and offended if other people mention it.
        I just need to develop better ways to tell people, “Yes, I do love your kid, but he is loud, so if he’s here while we’re hanging out don’t expect me to be able to carry on a deep/complex conversation.” and “Yes, I can tell you have a cat, because although I haven’t seen it, I can smell the litter box from your front door.”

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          I can vouch for this – I have three kids and a dog, and we frequent sporting events for the kids where hollering and cheering Are Perfectly Acceptable, so….yeah. I’m used to noise. I can carry on a conversation over it pretty easily.

          That said, I agree no kids in meetings. Holy cow. I just cannot concentrate when one of my kids is around. It’s like the part of my brain I use for Thinking About Important Things is temporarily turned offline when a kid is present, and instead all resources are shunted to MAKE SURE NO ONE DIES, OR AT THE VERY LEAST DOESN’T KNOCK ANYTHING OVER.

          As for dogs, I’d say it depends on behavior. My dog couldn’t attend because he’s a talker/sigher/general loud breather. He’s well-behaved, but cannot be quiet. Ever.

    2. Feline*

      After spending quite a while in the pet industry where people bring dogs of varying degrees of behavior, I think people become accustomed to both the noise level of their dogs (and kids), and they lose perspective on how much the noise they generate distracts people around them. If your dog is a barker, a yip or two won’t bother you at all. “He’s just happy to see you.” Meanwhile, your coworker in the next cubicle who lives a dog-free life and doesn’t typically hear dog sounds is yanked totally out of the concentration zone by it.

      Ultimately, pet or child policies need to define “disruptive” very carefully, because one person’s “disruptive” is another person’s “cute.”

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Ultimately, pet or child policies need to define “disruptive” very carefully, because one person’s “disruptive” is another person’s “cute.”

        Yes, I was vividly reminded of this a few months back when a coworker brought her toddler to our open plan office, where he proceeded to squeal and shriek for like 2 hours while playing with various toys and chasing around a few coworkers, who all thought it was adorable. The adorableness was lost on the rest of us in the office who were trying to actually, you know, work.

        1. Paris*

          The sounds of children squeal/shriek laughing is just as annoying and distracting as crying to me.

      2. Paris*

        I have a barky dog at home, so I’m used to the barks. My office is not dog friendly, but the office one floor down is, and we can all hear the dog barking down there come up through the elevator. I love dogs, but having one one floor down means we get all the annoyances of barking without the benefit of petting a dog.

  21. Ali*

    First time commenting. I like both kids and dogs, but this sounds like work hell for me. I think asking the mom if there is some way the organization can schedule around child care or assist with locating child care might be a more politic way of doing it. Limiting dogs from meetings or having casual dog Fridays might help. People can be very defensive about their kids and pets so I wouldn’the try to push a full immediate ban.

  22. Government Worker*

    I think there must be more to this story. My guess is that one of the following is true:

    – This employee has very unusual and difficult personal circumstances of which OP is not aware (such as Cafe Au Lait shared above), and which the organization is accomodating (hopefully temporarily)
    – The OP, not being a kid person, reports that the child is a toddler but is underestimating his or her actual age
    – The executive director of this organization is too caught up in the idea of creating a family friendly workplace atmosphere and has totally failed to adequately manage the situation

    I have two-year-old twins, and I can barely make mac and cheese from a box or send a text that’s more than three words or ask my spouse about her day while they’re both awake. Having a toddler in the office is totally unprofessional and in most circumstances the parent would be rendered basically nonproductive during that time (I guess some kids could be distracted by an iPad for a few minutes at a time). There are offices where occasionally having kids in the office is fine, but the younger the child, the less work the employee will get done during that time. A toddler? In meetings? With board members? Regularly? No way.

    1. Letter Writer*

      To answer your comments:

      1) I’ve known this employee and her spouse for years. They have access to childcare, and the spouse will watch the child when they are not working. But they prefer to parent this way, and because of an agreement with the employer/lax office rules the child comes to work.
      2) The child is a little over 2 years old, well in the toddler range.
      3) I believe this to be true

      1. Elizabeth West*

        1. Why should the entire office have to accommodate THEIR parenting preferences?
        2. Too young to be in the office all day.
        3. Good luck with that one.

      2. Observer*

        She “prefers to parent this way”?! Seriously?

        You have a bigger issue than just the meetings. The ED is not doing the job they are being paid for. You want a family friendly workplace? There are a lot of ways to do that, and I applaud the ED for wanting to do that. But, this is not the way. What you really need to do is to work with the ED to create more sensible policies around this. I’d even say that if being family friendly is important, it’s ok to spend some money on it – eg providing a space in your building for child care and paying for any related insurance. But, toddlers WITH mom / dad all day, most days?

        It’s not just the kid, either. What’s with the fighting dogs? Again, I don’t mind the notion of a pet friendly office, although I don’t think it rates as high as a child friendly office. But, any dog that’s involved in a fight needs to be banned from the office.

        The bottom line is that your ED needs to grow a spine, and start implementing some sensible policies.

        For some context: I’m someone who brought my children to the office on a regular basis. But that stopped about when they started crawling or shortly thereafter. It’s just too distracting, and unfair to the rest of the office.

        1. Kyrielle*

          THIS. I work now at a family-friendly company. My last job was also at a family-friendly company. What have been attributes of one or both of these places?
          * Flexible working schedule when possible, to facilitate child care.
          * Option to work from home if needed (but not while watching children – only with child care – except on rare occasions as when an older child has a minor illness)
          * Good time-off / sick leave policies
          * On-site day care facility (still have to pay for it, but it’s right there)
          * Family-friendly business events (rarely, but there) on weekends
          * Employees making below $X get $Y put into their child care flex-spend account for free, beyond their salary. (X is a pretty low threshold, but it’s still there, and floored me. I don’t qualify for it – can’t complain about that.)
          * Cost to shift from employee-only to employee-and-child or employee-and-family health insurance is not agonizing.

          Neither of these locations would have considered it reasonable to bring a child into the workplace, with the exception being a brief visit to show off a new baby or a brief visit as they (and the other parent) were picking up the working parent. (Or coming in on a _weekend_ to ‘see where Mommy works’, but that would be a brief visit and standard working hours here do not include weekends.)

  23. KayBoyd*

    I had a craft group where one of our members had a baby. When he was an infant there was no issue with him coming. The baby slept or fed and was pretty content as long as she was with her mom. But once she hit the toddler stage, he was bored and wanted attention. At that point, his mom decided she needed to find other arrangements, either a babysitter or attending through Skype. I wonder if this started out with it not being a problem when the toddler was small but as he’s grown they haven’t addressed the new reality. In our case we were lucky that the mom recognized it before an uncomfortable conversation, but I believe addressing it and being flexible in case her finding childcare means the regular meeting times may have to be adjusted would be the best way to handle it.

    1. MaggiePi*

      This is was I was thinking. Bringing a kid along changes a lot with age, and if this started when the child was born and never readdressed, I could see this happening.
      Infant that mostly just sleeps and eats – fine.
      Toddler who never stops moving (bc that’s what toddlers do) – not fine.

  24. Vin packer*

    I would love to live in a world where people can bring their kids and dogs places without people hating it/them.

    However, since we don’t live in that society, the people who bring their kids to meetings and such are often those who are a little clueless about the social contract. So not only do they bring their kid, they don’t really supervise or prepare them adequately, and the disasters just snowball.

    As a board member, OP is in a position to insist on either a better system for having the kid and dogs around or, if that fails, that they not be around. I bet lots of meeting participants will be thankful.

    1. Manders*

      That’s a good point I hadn’t considered. I’ve lived in areas where it’s more common to have kids in areas where people are working/drinking/doing adult things, and the kids were expected to go off and make their own fun and to only interrupt mom or dad for emergencies.

      Toddlers are probably a little too young to make that judgement call on their own, though. And since this parent is taking the kid to conferences and 21+ events too, she’s demonstrating a serious lack of judgement about what even a well-behaved kid can handle without becoming a distraction.

      1. Vin packer*

        Yeah, def; lots of other cultures are way more village-y in how kids are supervised, so it could work and it could be cool. But you have to be set up for it–and a 21+ event is just not a good idea.

    2. Alix*

      Conversely, I’d absolutely hate running into dogs in unexpected spaces, especially if they’re prone to trying to jump on/lick/crowd you. If I wanted to be around dogs, I’d get one.

      Kids, though – I do think kids are often really disruptive to a workplace (and even if they’re not disrupting others, they’re often an understandable distraction for their parents). But my ideal solution there is for employers to offer good childcare and otherwise help working parents find solutions, not just force parents to scramble for emergency coverage or be “that parent” if their normal care falls through.

  25. Children's entertainer here*

    Last week was Take Your Kids To Work day. I was hired by a company to be there ALL DAY. There is a reason that many companies have 8 hours of organized activities for kids on this day. They don’t want the kids attending meetings with the parents. They don’t want the kids playing around the parent’s desk. Basically, they want the parents to work. Crazy, isn’t it?

    1. DeskBird*

      I think I heard that NPR had two minutes of blank air on take your kid to work day because one of the kids managed to push a bunch of buttons in just the right order to turn the broadcast off. A group of kids and a bunch of sensitive, important buttons are not a good mix.

    2. OfficePrincess*

      That is one smart company. My boss’s daughter is 11 or 12 and even she was a distraction. And it got weird when I would need to talk about ongoing personnel issues that middleschoolers really don’t need to be part of.

  26. Letter Writer*

    I posted this in reply to someone, but I thought I’d stick it here again so it doesn’t get buried.

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses. Honestly, I was worried I was being a total jerk about this, so I appreciate the advice and comments.

    A few things. The employee with the child has access to childcare and a spouse, but it seems that because of a spoken agreement with the ED she is able to bring her child to work and to work related functions. I’ve also known this employee for years and have an understanding of her circumstances. There are toys and other things in the office to occupy the child, but she’d usually rather be with mom/move about the office freely (it’s a small office, total of 5 staff). I’m going to suggest calling in to meetings (since she does have the option to work from home) and shifting meetings to different times when her spouse is available since I think she prefers that her child stay with family.

    Alternatively, I can also call in to meetings, but that doesn’t address the larger issue of the organization cultivating a professional space in their office. As someone who has worked at small NPOs I get that there are some perks to working at a small org with extreme flexibility. But I really haven’t experienced anything like this. I’m hoping with some feedback they’ll make changes.

    I brought up my general aversion to kids because I live in a particular state where folks marry young and have many children. Since I’m a 30ish single lady with no aspirations to procreate, I tend to be a bit of an anomaly around these parts and I generally try to be sensitive to the cultural norms, even though they boggle my mind.

    1. DeskBird*

      Is the meeting happening in the middle of the office – or is there a separate room with a door you can close? I feel like a “no dogs in the meeting room during a meeting” should be an easy rule to introduce if there is a separate meeting room – but would be a lot harder if it is an open air office.

  27. Person of Interest*

    This isn’t about whether people like kids or dogs, or your judgement of any individual’s caregiving circumstances; it’s about your organization’s productivity and liability. Those are absolutely questions that you should be asking as a board member.

    I’ve worked/been a board member at 3 different youth-serving orgs and each had internal policies about alcohol at events where kids would be present.

  28. Artemesia*

    I am stunned that workplaces allow any of this, but particularly toddlers. An older child can sometimes come over after school and do their homework in a corner and not be a problem, but a toddler is by definition disruptive; at the best case, its mother is not getting the job done (or father — but I haven’t seen that yet). Worst case, lots of people are being disrupted. It is not possible to work effectively and supervise a toddler. Once in a long while when there is a sudden day care disruption I can see being flexible although it is also reasonable to expect the employee to take a PTO day to deal with the situation. But to do it routinely is a serious confusion about what the word ‘work’ means. And allowing someone to drag small kids to serious work events with the public is grotesque. This has to be undercutting the effectiveness of the organization; the parent can’t possibly be working to the level one should expect.

  29. The Spider*

    Our office is blatantly and overtly dog friendly, 3 downstairs and upto 5 upstairs. Chances are high you won’t want to work at our office if you don’t like dogs ;)

    There are times where the scampering and barking is annoying. There are times where it is adorable :) I actually quite like having them in meetings as it helps keep your attention up – if you start to zone out, you can tickle a dog for a minute and you’re back in the zone! :)

  30. Mockingjay*

    The only dogs I have ever encountered at work were Service animals. A colleague trains service dogs for the Wounded Warrior Project. She would bring them in for acclimation to office environments and large groups of people. (With our full permission!)

    Amazing dogs. We truly enjoyed having them around. Of course, their sweet, calm temperaments (a main reason for their selection to the program) played a large role here. Also, they weren’t brought in until they reached a certain level of training. Each dog would be with us for months.

    The colleague is now working on another project. No more dogs. :(

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That’s wonderful. I love that your office let her do this.

      And yes, service animals are specifically trained NOT to be disruptive/ignore people in busy environments or on the bus, in offices, shops, etc. A far cry from someone’s little yappy, bitey purse dog or one they claim is a service animal so they don’t have to leave it at home.

  31. DMR*

    I have worked for two nonprofits and have been involved in committees and boards of several others. In my corner of this industry, meetings intended to include board members are often outside of standard business hours, and the pay is decent but not great. And childcare can be complicated (we could find two options with infant slots when I returned to work, one open 4 days a week and one closing at 4:15 pm, impossible with our commute despite the fact my husband and I have flexible office hours). I now work much closer to home and daycare, but any meet outside of 10 – 4 can get complicated quickly with childcare logistics and we’re trying to figure out how we can both meet work obligations next month, when I have a conference and my husband has a major deadline.

    Also, if these meetings mean staff are out of the house for extended periods of time (ie, I had the occasional day that was 14+ hours including the commute), bringing the dog in is a pretty nice perk.

    If the staff is not meeting goals because of these policies, it should definitely be brought up. But if this culture helps retain awesome employees who achieve great things, then you may want to accept the culture or reconsider your involvement

  32. Bibliovore*

    Very timely for me. I hosted our big yearly event on Saturday. One of our board members often brings her 2 year old to meetings. The first time it happened, I was kind of stunned. I knew that in the future I would decline invitations if the child was going to be present. This board member brought her toddler and a graduate student to baby sit to Saturday’s event. The child was very disruptive and vocal during the honored guest’s speech. At no time did the board member walk the child out or ask the babysitter to do so. At one point the speaker even commented on the child’s talking.
    I was at a loss what to do. The mother seemed completely oblivious that there were audience members turning in her direction. I kept thinking it would be more disruptive to walk over to her table. I thought for sure she would take the child out. The child wasn’t unhappy, just very vocal. Should I speak to her now about future events or not? Thoughts?

    1. KR*

      My first thought would be to get some outside perspective on if others were bothered by the infant or not, but that involves going around and asking everyone how annoying they thought it was and that feels icky to me. I think it’s worth it to bring it up somehow though, because that doesn’t seem like a very kid-friendly event and she really should have removed the babies when they started making noise. I’m also wondering if it was a one-time thing or if she intends to bring them to every event. Someone with more tact please weigh in!

    2. Artemesia*

      I think you should have walked over to her and asked her to take the child out. The disruption was happening, better that this clueless mother be embarrassed than the guest speaker be shown this disrespect by the organization. Having not done so, I think you need to sit down and discuss this with her if you are her peer or have authority over her. If you are not in a position to do this, you should discuss it with the chair or whomever does have authority.

      The time to do this is now so it doesn’t happen again.

      1. Rana*

        Agreed. Treat it as you would any other disruptive behavior: make it stop or leave.

        Removing your child when said child is disrupting others is kind of a parenting basic. (The one exception being situations where it’s not physically possible, like on transportation.) Don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

  33. A. D. Kay*

    One would THINK that toddlers don’t belong in meetings. One would also think that the company HR person would know better than to have her small child with her when she was meeting with someone to let him know he was being fired. Yes, that really happened at ex-job (not to me).

      1. A. D. Kay*

        She also messed up some state-required paperwork, which resulted in my UI claim being delayed for several weeks. She’s a real pro.

  34. eplawyer*

    There are perks to being in a small office, but primarily employees are there to WORK. If mom and dad decide they want to parent such that the child is always with one of them, then they need to arrange their lives to accomodate that. Maybe one be a stay at home parent. They should not expect their employers to accomodate their personal choices.

    There are office norms that are pretty universal. Regular disruptions of any kind (toddlers, girlfriend calling every 10 minutes, dogs running around, hearing porn blaring from an adjacent office) are pretty much no-nos everywhere. Again, the point is to work, not have some place else to live your life.

    As for bringing the child to events, tables at conferences, that needs to stop NOW. I don’t care how “kid friendly” your office is, you are trying to project a professional image of how well your organization accomplishes its function. Having a toddler running around detracts from that.

  35. LavaLamp*

    Some of my earliest memories are of my dad taking me into his work and introducing me to people. Granted my dad was also in a blue collar manufacturing sector, but I still remember it well.

    I also remember Take Your Child to Work day, and how cool it was, and that my dad made me do actual work. It also means I met my boss the first time when I was twelve. Over cake. Is this not a thing anymore? I don’t hear or see things for it and it’s kinda sad, since I know I benefited from it.

    My dog, as much as I love her, is more of a cat in a dog suit. That likes to attempt eating people who get too close to Her Human. Which is why she stays at home. Because having your dog bite a coworker is really bad for coworker relationships.

    1. Observer*

      So, you were old enough to actually be introduced to your Dad’s boss, etc. And for Bring your Child to Work day, you were actually old enough to do actual work. I don’t think anyone would object to that.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m so old that I remember when it was Take Your Daughter to Work Day, and the point was to show girls that women could work. I realize that most women now have jobs, but at the time, it was damn revolutionary and so, so important. I think Take Your Child to Work Day is kind of silly in comparison, but YMMV.

  36. Rubyrose*

    I think if I were attending those meetings and bringing it up to the group did no good, I would just leave at the one hour mark, every meeting. If you have enough people doing that, something will be done.

    1. Kate*

      That is what I do. I have one meeting that routinely runs way over, and the person running it never acknowledges that we are over time. I have started scheduling other meetings/calls right after, and I leave at the scheduled time (I’m pretty senior, though)

  37. IT_Guy*

    I love dogs and kiddos. But having your toddler in the office doesn’t make it free range day care! If somebody brings a 4 legged or 2 legged kids to a meetings, then that is disruptive and totally inappropriate. If you can’t do a meeting without them, then you should stay home and call in remotely.

  38. LizM*

    I have a one year old, and for what it’s worth, I actually feel like it’s NOT family friendly to allow kids at the office on a regular basis. Sometimes it seems like people that don’t have kids really don’t understand how much work they are – I’ve tried to work and take care of my kid at the same time, and it just doesn’t work unless he’s napping.

    So when I’m taking the day off work to take care of him, I need to be off work. I may be able to log in during his nap time or after he goes to bed, but the idea that I can take calls from home or get a full day’s work done on days when he’s too sick for daycare is absurd based on his energy level and level of neediness. The societal expectation that I can do both at the same time creates more pressure, not less. For me, a family friendly environment is one that recognizes this conflict and helps employees find the tools to navigate it (flexible schedule, on site daycare, telework capabilities for work after the kid goes to bed), rather than just ignoring it and sweeping it under the rug.

    1. Rana*

      That’s a very good point. I work from home (freelancer) and it is exhausting when I have a project to manage, because it can only be done when my child is not awake or not with me. Basically, any moments that would normally serve as “me” time have to go to the project, because there’s no way to concentrate as needed when she’s in my care. It’s only possible due to the support of family and the fact that my work comes in short intense bursts followed by time off, rather than a more steady daily pace.

      If I were working for someone else, “family friendly” to me would mean no long hours, no work in the evening, flexible hours during the week, minimal travel, and the possibility of work from home and subsidized day care.

  39. Guest*

    Honestly, pet/kid friendly policies seem to be more trouble than what they’re worth. I think bringing in a well behaved (quiet, non-disruptive, etc.) child or pet is fine every once-in-a-blue-moon. But it is work after all, part of the sacrifice is being away from pets and children until you go home.

  40. Bartlett for President*

    Am I the only one having problems with auto-starting videos that make a lot of noise? Not a fan..

    1. TotheM*

      Yeah, not a fan either, but I don’t think the site owners can know which ads are going to do that. They don’t seem to be using Flash, because I have auto-play disabled for Flash.

  41. Anna*

    Based on this and the other dog post, Alison, you seem very unsympathetic to dog offices and post often about your cats, so could there be a bias in your response because you are not personally partial to dogs?

    I would just like to say that dogs and toddlers are not nearly on the same level of distraction. A dog can sleep peacefully under your chair, and dog-friendly offices are rare and hard to come by (and a real perk that I would consider over salary in choosing a position). A toddler is a constant distraction that cannot be left alone for one second. If someone is annoyed by the latter, great and I agree (nobody wants to see the snot and tears of your offspring during a meeting), but I don’t think they should lump in dogs and throw them out with the bathwater :)

    1. Corporate Drone*

      You would be hard-pressed to find a more indulgent dog mom than I. My daughter regularly accuses me of loving the dog more than I love her. She is not entirely incorrect. ;-) That said, pets do not belong in an office, unless it’s a vet’s office.

    2. Observer*

      This has nothing to do with dog vs cat, as much as any pet that isn’t in a tank or bowl at all times. A well behaved dog or cat will be less disruptive that a toddler in most cases, but sometimes the mere presence of a pet (not just dogs) can create issues even if it’s well behaved.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I used to work in a dog-friendly office years ago and loved it. But they had clear rules that kept the dogs from being disruptive, and that’s what’s been missing in the situations that we’ve heard about in letters here. None of the letters about dogs here have been about dogs that sleep peacefully under people’s chairs.

    4. Rana*

      It depends on the dog, it depends on the toddler. Some of them are quiet and good at entertaining themselves (mine is – I got lucky) while others are more active and needy.

      I think making blanket rules for both is tricky if you wish to include the quiet, well-behaved ones and exclude the others. The simplest is, of course, “don’t bring them.”

      (By the way, am I the only person here who’s a little disturbed by the direct comparisons of the two? Yes, young humans are disruptive and needy, often, but they are human beings, with a number of rights that other animals don’t get, for good reason. Acting as if they’re equivalent to pets or treating them all as interchangeable and undifferentiated small mammals strikes me as ethically problematic. You can address the disruption issue without falling into “they are all by nature unpleasant little creatures, keep them away from me” territory.)

      1. Anna*

        “You can address the disruption issue without falling into “they are all by nature unpleasant little creatures, keep them away from me” territory.)”

        It’s likely too late for you to see this but I’m going to reply anyway:
        I am also bothered by the comparison of the two – because to me, dogs are superior to children. The ‘unpleasant little creatures’ is exactly my viewpoint. I place more value on dogs than on toddlers, childrens, and generic human beings in general. Is this right? no, but it’s not wrong either. It is my worldview, so I will express it as I please and am not going to bow down to your demand that we hold our corrupt, cruel species above others.

  42. Corporate Drone*

    Where are all of these offices in which it’s appropriate to bring one’s children and pets? I’ve been in the white collar workforce for 20+ years, and have never seen this. This is a thing? I love my dog, but he’s much happier at doggy daycare than he would be here with me. And I’m sure my 13YO would rather die than accompany her mother to work.

  43. Kate*

    I have a toddler that I love and I would never, ever want to bring her to meetings (or to work, period). Holy hell. Nothing would get done. Which leads me to wonder if the parent is having childcare issues, because I can’t imagine choosing to do this otherwise. Even if she has childcare, she may not have full coverage, because full coverage is expensive and non-profits are not known for paying well. You should still raise it though.
    Same with dogs. I love them, but absolutely do not want them at work.
    Out of town conferences are a whole separate issue. If my husband is traveling at the same time, I sometimes have brought my child with me on work travel – but I make sure I have childcare there (either a grandparent or a local nanny). It has not been disruptive.

  44. Eric79*

    A nice way to do this is to exaggerate to the extreme. If the toddler or dog IS in fact causing disruptions, YOU help it along. Run over to the dog and pet him and play and do the same fussing over the toddler. Others will quickly see how much time is wasted.

    Subtlety is the key here, you have to make it look genuine. Oh yeah it could backfire, you could wind up a babysitter and dog walker :o)

Comments are closed.