update: my company says we’re dog-friendly — but we’re not

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose company said it was dog-friendly but then issued a policy that seemed to exclude dogs who weren’t therapy or service animals? Here’s the update.

I wrote to the HR director using some of the language suggested by Alison (that the policy seemed to say dogs were only allowed for medical purposes), and pointed out that the practical effect was likely to ban all dogs except Mr. Goodboy,

The reply read: “Thanks for reading the handbook and for reaching out for additional information. The intent of our Pet Policy was for the protection of our people (employees and visitors), the pets, and our property. It was not written to exclude or include any specific pet. This was a difficult policy to construct and we did much research to get to a policy that would provide safety and enjoyment for both people and pets. The request for a trained therapy or service animal is to help ensure that the pet be accustomed to people in both a one on one and a group situation. This provides less stress on the dog, our employees, and visitors to our workplace. We used the word should in this portion of the policy as we recognized that not all pets will qualify as a therapy/service animal; but could still be a good corporate pet.”

(There were some commenters who speculated that the word “should” in the policy language stating, “Dogs should be a trained therapy or service animal” meant that technically, it wasn’t a requirement. So, you guys were right! It never even occurred to me that this could be the case because it seemed like such a fine, legalistic distinction.)

Anyway, I replied: “Thanks for writing back with more info. This helps clarify for me that I should not bring in my dog anymore (as you’ve seen, he is shy and not comfortable around people in the way you specify). That’s disappointing, but I do understand the need for a consistent policy that ensures the best outcomes for both employees and pets. I’m sure it will be a while before the handbook is updated again, but when it is, I’d like to suggest the addition of some clarifying language to ensure other employees understand that they may be able to bring a dog that isn’t specifically certified as a service or therapy animal (I definitely took “should” as synonymous with “must” and can only assume that other employees will take it the same way). Perhaps “Dogs must display a level of obedience, training, and comfort around people commensurate with a service animal or therapy dog”? Or perhaps a version of the language you yourself used to clarify the policy, which was so helpful to me? (I say this with no intention of disrespecting the research you’ve done on the topic – I just want employees to be able to take full advantage of the dog-friendly policy without any confusion.)”

I didn’t receive a reply to this message, and the handbook hasn’t been updated again.

So, the state of dogs in my office as of February was as follows: I hadn’t brought in my dog again. No one else had brought their dog in. Even Mr. Goodboy’s visits had been severely curtailed (his owner, “Jane,” was concerned by other parts of the pet policy that limited her ability to let him range freely around the building and join her in meetings. She began working from home more often and keeping him shut in her office when she was in). My manager who had been considering getting a dog did not get a dog. A few coworkers expressed disappointment to me that my shy rescue dog wouldn’t be returning, saying that the spirit of our mission would be to help him become socialized around people.

So it doesn’t seem to me that the “dog-friendly” policy resulted in people feeling comfortable bringing dogs into the office. I think “on the level of a therapy dog or service dog” seems like a high bar for most pets to meet, and something like the AKC Canine Good Citizen standard should have been used instead, if we’re really going to be a dog-friendly office.

Of course, then the pandemic hit. Now we’re all working with our dogs in our “offices” at home. We’ve always had a very flexible work-from-home policy, and I personally don’t plan to go back to the office until the danger truly seems to have passed. My dog is happy to have me (not to mention my husband and our baby) at home for the time being.

There were several discussion threads in response to my original letter suggesting that Mr. Goodboy might actually be Jane’s service dog, as opposed to a therapy dog. I was never really clear on why this would matter, since either certification would allow him access to the office under this policy, but I did try to clarify. One evening at an after-work gathering, the pet policy came up and I used the opportunity to ask Jane whether Mr. Goodboy was a service dog or a therapy dog. Her response was that he was originally trained as her service dog, and now he is her therapy dog. I didn’t inquire further so as not to pry into her medical history.

Some of the comments suggested (politely) that I was complaining that my dog didn’t have the same privileges as a service dog. I understand that it’s my employer’s prerogative to restrict dogs in the office, but I also get why those commenters might have read my question as “here’s the new policy and whyyyyy isn’t my dog allowed anymore???” because the policy looks like a pretty normal one for many offices. But what drove me to write in was the confusion of describing this policy as “dog-friendly.”

There was a brief but interesting discussion of employers announcing something negative for employees and trying to spin it as a positive, but I want to emphasize that that would be pretty out-of-character for my employer. This isn’t an organization given to obfuscation or double-speak; I was confused enough to write in because I genuinely thought perhaps the wording of the policy was some kind of mistake. Thanks to Alison for providing me with the reality check of, yeah, it’s weird wording. It doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon, but that’s OK – this is overall a great company that looks out for us in so many ways, one confusingly-worded policy isn’t going to spoil that.

Finally, there was at least one wish to see a photo of Mr. Goodboy. I won’t do that without his owner’s permission, so instead, please enjoy this picture of my own Mr. Shyboy.

{ 149 comments… read them below }

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Eyebrow whiskers and huge melting brown eyes and THAT SMILE – oh, what a sweetie Mr. Shyboy is! Please give him an ear-rub and an extra treat from me!

    1. Sally*

      He’s so adorable! I have a Mr. Shyboy, too, and I always say he’s cautious and has an excellent startle reflex! Fortunately, he has gotten a little more relaxed over the years. My Shyboy sends his love to your Shyboy!

    2. AuroraLight37*

      Please tell Mr. Shyboy that he is the Goodest Boi and I love him. That is all.

  1. Lauren*

    Yeah, none of that sounds like a dog friendly policy, just a policy acknowledging that service dogs are allowed (which ADA already does, I believe. So, what’s the point? They get to pretend they are dog friendly when they are really just doing what companies are already required to?

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Maybe they wrote the policy to cover themselves if something went wrong?

      1. Moocow Cat*

        Yeah, that’s how things work here. Service dogs absolutely must be allowed.* However, therapy dogs are in a different category. A company doesn’t need to allow a therapy animal in the business.*
        *Reality is more complicated than this post describes

        1. Anax*

          Yep. The legal requirements around emotional support animals are also much more confusing and ambiguous than those for service dogs. It can take a lot of wrangling with legal to hash out exactly what they’re permitted, what the financial implications are, and what the obligations on the ESA owner’s side are.

          I have two ESA cats, and getting the paperwork hashed out with my apartment complex took about two months; it was a LOT.

    2. Nobby Nobbs*

      I wonder whether they set out to write a policy for an actual dog-friendly office, but the process of hammering out what they were actually prepared to deal with resulted in something else entirely.

      1. Kiki*

        Yeah, I think writing comprehensive policies is really hard. You don’t want to write 6 pages on what a dog must do to be allowed in the office, but you also know from experience that you can’t rely on subjective terms like “well-behaved.” A lot of people describe their dogs as well-behaved, but then they jump on everyone and bark at every single squirrel in the window. (To be clear, I still consider dogs like this good doggos, but they probably shouldn’t be in an office.)

    3. boo bot*

      Yeah, it comes across a little like, “We offer a worker-friendly minimum hourly pay of $7.25/hour!” or “We offer a family-friendly 12-week, unpaid maternity leave!”

      Don’t brag about following labor laws, just… follow them.

      The addition of therapy dogs is actually something extra, but even then, it’s a stretch to call it “dog friendly.”

  2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

    Hello there Mr. Shyboy! You are a very handsome guy and you deserve a steak!

    And lots and lots of kisses and belly scritchies!!!

    1. OP*

      He has had his fair share of steak – including once about a week after we first adopted him, when we left four big sirloin steaks on the counter to come to room temperature and came back to find only two. We located one on the couch (!) and found not a single trace of the other one (!!) That was really on us, I think. We have since trained him that the counter is not for him!

  3. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Mr. Shyboy is the kind of co-worker I’d love to work with, except I’d probably spend more time giving ear scritches than getting work done. I’m sorry your company’s policy isn’t more open and inclusive, but maybe you planted a seed for change. Here’s hoping!

    1. Retired Lady*

      My thoughts exactly. If someone had brought a dog to work I’d never get any work done.

  4. Lavernica*

    I am a big animal lover and a vegan. I would never, ever, ever expect to be allowed to bring a dog to anything but the most casual work environment, or one that was already animal-related. Where did this idea of bringing personal pets (not service or therapy dogs) into the workplace suddenly come from? Why on earth do people feel like an office should have dogs in it? I am flabbergasted by this trend. Why? It seems to me that dogs are part of one’s personal life, not one’s work life, except under specific circumstances. I sincerely don’t get it.

    1. Even In an Emergency*

      Because the office specifically aid it was dog-friendly and people were routinely bringing in their dogs.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I definitely understand it in the case of the OP’s situation, but generally it is a trend that doesn’t have clear origins or reasons, other than perhaps spawning from other weird trends of the FANG company-era.

        As someone who graduated 20 years ago, it was never on my radar that there would be a company where I could take my dog to work. This was limited to the hardware store tortoise and liquor store dog back in my day. Nowadays, I hear kids my son knows are mad because they can’t adopt a dog and have it live in their dorm.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          That’s also region dependant. A lot of Europe has pets in and out of stores all the time. I had a restaurant cat choose me to sleep on all dinner once.
          Tech companies are often dog friendly and we work and other co-working spaces tend to allow them too.

          1. Sal*

            I had a restaurant puppy on my lap on my honeymoon in Nevis. In my top 10 of life experiences.

          2. allathian*

            Tech companies are notorious for providing all sorts of perks so that staff can stay at work round the clock. In some countries it is considered neglect to leave a dog at home alone for more than 6 or 8 hours. Dog sitters and doggy daycares are very popular in Sweden, for example, where they have such a policy.

        2. Lavernica*

          I get a store having a dog or cat, especially a locally owned store. An office, though?

    2. Oof*

      I don’t think it’s sudden. I think it’s grown, and is moving into fields where it wasn’t common before, but also, now things are all so much more public with social media. I saw far more dogs in the workplace when I started my career 20 years ago or so than I do now. I missed my shot – that’s when I had a cat!

    3. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

      There’s an element of increased acceptance of and need for crazy commute times- dogs home for 14 hours a day = easier to keep people in the office and offer a “cool” perk.

    4. Stephanie*

      I think from tech companies. But I imagine this only really worked at smaller startups. I interviewed at the corporate office of one of Big Box pet stores and even they only allowed people to bring pets in one day a week.

      My current company rolled out a very limited dog policy. I think it has enough exceptions such that no one really brings in their dog to work.

    5. Jennifer Thneed*

      It’s not sudden at all. Lots of really small companies have always done it, because the owner had a dog and they made the rules. Google has been doing it since it started in 1998. (And their offices are staying closed thru 2020 so it will be interesting to see if this changes when/if their buildings open up again.)

        1. Ok Boomer*

          ….30 years is a long time?? and you mentioned you graduated 20 years ago – that is also a long time ago. And a time where a LOT has changed in regards to workplace norms and expectations.

          I graduated ten years ago, and dogs in offices (or a push for them) has been common in all four of the cities I’ve lived in. Might be less common in more remote areas, but it’s an increasingly common ‘perk’ being offered to attract/maintain top talent in a day and age where work/life balance is often blurred. Similar to flex hours, it’s a way for employers to offer a perk without great expense on their end.

          I’m not sure why you keep pushing back on the time frames – but as you can see from every other comment, times have changed. And 30 years is a long time…

        2. Lol*

          ….30 years is a long time?? and you mentioned you graduated 20 years ago – that is also a long time ago. And a time where a LOT has changed in regards to workplace norms and expectations.

          I graduated ten years ago, and dogs in offices (or a push for them) has been common in all four of the cities I’ve lived in. Might be less common in more remote areas, but it’s an increasingly common ‘perk’ being offered to attract/maintain top talent in a day and age where work/life balance is often blurred. Similar to flex hours, it’s a way for employers to offer a perk without great expense on their end.

          1. Lol*

            ETA: I meant that it has been more common than it sounds like some people realize – not that it is actually common in regards to a majority. I assume it is a minority of offices that are actually able to implement and keep this policy on the books. But still, it’s not been uncommon by any means in those areas.

    6. Black Horse Dancing*

      It’s the same as having good/generous medical benefits, PTO, parental leave, etc. It is something to lure employees. A dog friendly office is awesome for a lot of people (and this one is not dog friendly).

    7. anon anon anon*

      I honestly don’t think its that big of deal. As long as there are no dog allergies, phobias or if the dog is disruptive. I would have to say it has to fit the culture of the company. I worked at a small non-profit, where the ED’s dog came with him everyday. I brought my dog on occasion. Everyone in the office, was fine with it and it was discussed before hand.

      Now a large, formal office with several hundred people….maybe not the best place for a dog. I just don’t think its as black and white as no dogs ever.

    8. knead me seymour*

      Just speculating, but I wonder if it’s a result of more people being uncomfortable with leaving their dog alone for hours every day (i.e. the dog care standard when I was a kid). Paying for daycare or pet sitting for your dog every day is prohibitively expensive, so it’s understandable that some businesses would offer it as a perk.

      To me, the better solution would be a more generous work-from-home and flexible hours policy, when possible. Apart from extremely well trained dogs or elderly dogs that just want to nap under a desk all day, I don’t think most dogs are really well suited for office life–and for that matter, I don’t think an office environment is necessarily best for the dog either.

      1. noblepower*

        Depends on the dog, and their temperament and socialization, really. I work with service dogs, and the dogs are trained from the time they’re puppies to settle in office/classroom/meeting spaces.

        1. knead me seymour*

          That’s the thing–as I understand it, service dogs are the small proportion of dogs that are selected and trained specifically to do well in this kind of setting. They also have a job that keeps them focused and engaged. But that kind of training and judgment is not going to be in place for the average person who may be employing some wishful thinking about how well their dog will adapt.

      2. JJ*

        I agree with this completely. Dogs in the office are sooooo divisive because so many really just aren’t suited for it, no matter how good a doggo they are, plus everyone’s tolerance for various dog antics differs. It would be a less complicated perk if the ‘dog friendly’ meant WFH and flexible hours instead of bringing the dog to work.

        1. wittyrepartee*

          It depends on the office setup too. And how often someone can take doggo on a walk.

    9. Anon Anon*

      I think the bigger issue is that there may have been people who took the job in part because of the added benefit of being able to bring their dog to work. The fact that policy has changed means a benefit that at least some people valued has been removed. And I know I’d be a little irritated if I lost a benefit I valued.

    10. Koala dreams*

      I think there are definitely trends. I don’t know about twenty years ago, but a couple of years ago it was trendy to bring pets to work and coffee shops. There were cat backpacks for cats, and many places that put out water bowls for dogs. I rather suspect it’s like clothes, things cycle in and out of fashion.

  5. Scout Finch*

    Thank you for the update. I am so enjoying this bonus update season.

    Like Lauren above, sounds like they are confusing “dog-friendly” for “meeting ADA requirements”.

    But, like SheLooksFamiliar notes, maybe you have put something in the back of their minds for the next handbook update cycle.

    Mr. Shyboy is adoreable. Thank you for sharing his picture.

  6. Moonlight Elantra*

    Even if it’s a pseudonym, Mr. Goodboy is a TREMENDOUS name for a dog. Well done.

  7. Hills to Die on*

    Mr Shyboy has a sweet face. I wish I could scratch his ears. Also, my trick for winning over fur babies is to scratch under the collar.

  8. Weird Wording Indeed*

    It sounds like this policy is meant to be “dog friendly” in that it’s friendly to dogs. To help them be most comfortable.

  9. Generic Name*

    Thanks for the update! I have to say, what an odd situation. My company is dog-friendly, and our dog policy is written much differently so that most people with dogs can and do bring them in. Many of my coworkers use their best judgement and keep their dogs home if they know their dog doesn’t get along well with other dogs, for example, and there are rules for good dog (and dog owner) behavior, but it’s not overly restrictive, but it protects the company.

    1. OP*

      Yeah, I know they said they did research, but I looked up dog-friendly office policies myself before I wrote to HR, and I found very different wording. Oh well!

  10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Hello, Mr. Shyboy. I can lowkey too, sucha good shy boy. Needs more snacky snacks and runs in the woods, I think.

  11. BadWolf*

    I think the sticky part of this specific of language (service level training) is that it weeds out the people who would be fine, but want to obey the rules (my dog is well behaved generally, but not formally trained and hasn’t been tested for foot touching/food aggressive/etc so I better not bring them in). And the people you actually want to stop bringing in dogs are all, “I got a certificate on the internet and Dog makes me feel better so it’s a therapy dog so I can bring him in — oh, just ignore him when he growls and nips at your heels and runs across the table.”

    PS. Growls, nips your heels and runs across the table was an example from an actual “therapy dog” that I encountered. Giving all the people and dogs working hard a bad name.

    1. nonegiven*

      >“I got a certificate on the internet and Dog makes me feel better so it’s a therapy dog so I can bring him in

      That would be an emotional support animal for one person, assuming a doctor’s letter. A therapy dog is way different and trained to interact with multiple patients, often as an emotional health type therapy but I knew a physical therapist that was training a Great Dane puppy to help with PT for seniors in nursing homes.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I think that’s BadWolf’s point about a”the people you actually want to stop bringing in dogs” because they have an ill-mannered canine that they mistakenly (or mendaciously) call a therapy dog.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Or they’re an emotional support animal, which could be both legitimate and poorly behaved, and someone could easily think their ESA counted as a “therapy dog” when they’re two completely different things (and it even sounds like Jane in the OP’s update is making this mistake, though of course Mr. Goodboy could be both, formally or otherwise). After the Canine Good Citizenship class, therapy dog training is the next course in the series for your dog, so to speak. It’s about taking your dog to hospitals, nursing homes, etc for strangers to pet to feel better, not a personal thing.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            I agree. I think people get confused because ESAs provide a kind of therapy for their owners (emotionl support/help) but they’re not therapy animals (which visit hospitals, people with health issues, etc.). Then there are service animals which provide a service to the person.

          2. Anax*

            Agreed, Mr. Goodboy really sounds like an ESA – and that might well be why Jane isn’t bringing him in so much anymore. I suspect that when legal set up their policy, they may have expressed concerns about liability and the like to Jane – as they should, because a free-ranging dog could easily be stolen by someone, chew up someone’s office furniture, fall down the stairs and get hurt, or any number of things which it’s legal’s job to worry about. That may have had a chilling effect for her.

            ESAs are great – I have two, who stay at home – but they’re a paperwork nightmare; a lot of folks have no idea what they are or what paperwork is needed, the legal requirements are fairly vague and unclear, and there’s a persistent stigma because some folks just buy certificates off the internet.

    2. OP*

      I think someone in the comments on the original post suggested I get my Mr. Shyboy certified, but I didn’t want to go that route for basically all the reasons you mentioned – it’s an attempt to do an end run around the rules, the certification would essentially be meaningless, and it would be insulting to all the rigorously trained service/therapy animals out there.

      Plus, the certification would likely be for a comfort or emotional support animal, which still doesn’t come up to the level of training my office is asking for.

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        There wouldn’t be anything wrong with getting him certified as a therapy dog (or at least trying) once this pandemic is over- as I said above, that’s only a class or two after the canine good citizenship certification- assuming of course that you have the time/inclination/finances. Personally even though my dog failed the CGC exam (passed the usual “difficult” tests, wouldn’t stop whining when we left the room. facepalm), taking the course was still a really good experience to do together, and I’d bet therapy dog training would be similar.

  12. LGC*

    Finally, there was at least one wish to see a photo of Mr. Goodboy. I won’t do that without his owner’s permission, so instead, please enjoy this picture of my own Mr. Shyboy.

    …this is a more than acceptable substitute. (Although he is not Mr. Goodboy, he is definitely an extremely good boy.)

  13. Andrea*

    I’ve been wondering why there was a spate of people traveling on the NYC subway (pre-pandemic) with their dogs. It really ramped up in the past year. Some were contained (all 4 paws had to be in a container of some type), as per the policy, others were just on a leash (and I did see one woman let her German Shepherd wander a Best Buy without her, with the leash trailing after him).

    Maybe more dog-friendly policies were the cause. I can’t say that it’s a great trend to think your pet can go anywhere. There are people who are allergic or afraid of dogs and in more than one case, a kid in a stroller was at the same level as a dog’s face. Leave your animal at home, or spring for a cab if you choose not to do so.

    1. compte*

      Omg yes. And don’t let your dog walk up to other people and sniff their legs! Or if you do, don’t be surprised if your dog accidentally gets kicked.

      I think these are the same people who let their kids scream and run around a restaurant.

    2. Lisa Large*

      So agree, my 4 year old grandson is so allergic to animals he has ‘broken out’ in hives just from riding in a grocery cart that held an animal. We have 2 good friends with children that suffered dog bites in public places, while walking past leashed dogs. Pets belong at home or a pet park. Too many of us suffer from severe animal allergies, dog attacks, plus we are tired of picking up someone else’s dog’s poo from our front yard (and please quit ‘disposing’ of dog poo in someone else’s trash can).

      1. Black Horse Dancing*

        As a pet owner , I will happily comply when parents keep their children under control and remove them immediately when they misbehave. I can’t tell you how many times children run screaming through stores, restaurants, etc. and parents do nothing. Some kid have a full on 20 minute scream fit in a store and the parent simply lets Junior wail. That’s BS. Remove your child until they calm down. If a place allows my pets, I will take them if I feel like it and if my pet agrees. Pets are family members.

          1. Professional Straphanger*

            For real. Parents not removing badly behaved kids isn’t a justification for an owner not removing a badly behaved pet; both are equally annoying and inconsiderate.

        1. Blueberry*

          So you’re going to willfully expose people to allergens to advance your social vendetta regarding children? That seems at best counterproductive. And that’s not even getting into misbehaving pets vs misbehaving children.

        2. Freeway*

          People tend not to be as allergic to children as to dogs. Your comparison is weak.

          1. Anonanonanon*

            Meh. As someone who breaks out in hives when I come into contact with pet fur, and who can tell if someone has a dog or cat based on how badly my sinuses get and how itchy/watery my eyes get just from entering their recently cleaned house, I’d rather deal with the allergens than listening to some kid screaming.

      2. PeanutButter*

        The last time I wasn’t able to prevent a dog jumping on me I ended up in the ER with angioedema from the hives. :(

      3. Jennifer Thneed*

        a. In my current city (and my previous one), the trash can is supplied by the city. If it gets stinky, I call and they deliver a replacement. I haven’t owned an outside trash can for over 20 years.
        b. I dump so much cat shit into my trash can that someone’s dog shit won’t make much difference. And that dog shit is probably in a plastic bag anyway.
        c. I *want* people to put trash into a trashcan rather than leaving it on the street. When I lived where I couldn’t put the can away between pickups, my only real gripe was people putting trash into the recyling bin, and I solved that problem by making sure the actual trash can was closest to the sidewalk.
        d. Lots of places require residents to put trashcans behind fences in between pickups, and that cuts right down on people adding anything to them.

    3. Quill*

      My lab introduced himself to the new neighbors when I was a child by running out of our yard, climbing into a red rider wagon, and licking their faces. Fortunately this did not go over as badly as it could have, but be better than me (or my lab) at keeping the dog out of babies’ faces.

    4. PollyQ*

      Yes, my aunt is allergic to dogs & cats. Being around them makes her asthma flare up, so that she literally cannot breathe. A quick google shows that 10-20% of the population is allergic to dogs & cats, so it’s not just affecting a few people.

    5. Jacqueline*

      I’m still annoyed at the woman, who seven years ago, passed me while walking her dog and let him get all up into may sons’ face in the stroller. She said, “oh he won’t hurt anyone” and that’s fine, but you don’t know how my kid is going to react. My husband has reasonably severe animal allergies, so it wouldn’t be unexpected for our kids to have them too. Now my kids like to pet dogs we pass while out walking (pre-pandemic), but they have to ask the human first. And we have had people tell us no!

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        Yeah, parents who don’t teach their children to ask before petting dogs are putting everyone at risk. My dog is fine with people out in the world who aren’t paying attention to her, but she doesn’t like strangers touching her- she’ll back away and hide behind me if anyone tries. The most scared I’ve ever been with her is when she was under our table in the corner at a dog-friendly brewery and a little girl crawled under there trying to pet her, not listening to either us or her grandmother that she needed to come out and leave the dog alone. Frankly I wouldn’t have blamed my dog had she bitten the little girl, everyone involved was really lucky that I was able to grab her when she was in active warning mode. She refused to go around similar looking children for about a year after that.

    6. CircleBack*

      I feel for people without cars who need to take their dog somewhere like the vet, dog boarding, etc. and like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But it’s important even if it’s necessary to contain your dog anytime you’re in public around other people, and what “contain” means is stricter in an enclosed space than the sidewalk.

      1. Andrea*

        That’s why you should take a taxi, or keep them contained. We’ve taken fosters in carriers on the subway, per the NYC policy. It’s the free floating dogs that are a problem.

  14. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I would die for Mr. Shyboy. What a goober. Please provide belly rubs and ear scritches and maybe a stinky treat hidden inside a towel on my behalf :)

    1. OP*

      He is an absolute goober who is constantly flipping on his back on the couch and offering upside-down tongue bleps. <3

  15. Dahlia*

    “since either certification”

    Fyi, service dogs don’t really have certifications. Anyone who tries to sell you something like that is probably scamming you.

  16. Kisses*

    I’m very happy to see Mr Shyboy and saddened to hear there were no requests for his picture!

  17. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    So impressed with OP’s reply to HR. That was one of the most diplomatic and professional things I’ve ever read. Absolutely respectful!

    1. Marion Cotesworth Haye*

      Agreed! I am not an HR professional, but can only imagine the tone of questions and complaints they must field each day, and the tone/feedback combo the OP achieved here was great.

  18. Lisa Large*

    Being highly allergic to dogs and cats, I am grateful I am now retired. Bringing animals into a work environment is just wrong. Too many issues with regards to allergies, biting animals, peeing animals, shedding animals added into the real stress of the normal workplace. Service animals are a totally different issue because they actually enable disabled employees to perform their work. Pets belong at home.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m glad you’re retired too. You clearly don’t understand they have policies in place to avoid all the things you’ve mentioned.

      Pets belong where people in charge of the privately owned property say they belong.

      1. back*

        I’m glad you’re retired too. You clearly don’t understand they have policies in place to avoid all the things you’ve mentioned.

        *hollow laughter*

      2. Alton*

        I don’t think that pet-friendly workplaces are unilaterally wrong, but I don’t think it’s really possible to create policies that both allow people to bring their pets in *and* protect people who have bad allergies. And having a pet-friendly workplace does create a risk that you might have to adjust that policy in the future if there are problems that impact employees or clients. At least with service animals, you have a better chance of being able to put some distance between the employees who have service dogs and the employees who are severely allergic to them.

        I don’t know if an allergy to dogs would be covered under the ADA, but generally speaking, owners of private businesses *don’t* have carte blanche rights to run their businesses however they want.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This subject has been discussed at great length in past columns — including the one that updates this.
          My short summary: yes, there are ways that businesses can work to have a dog-friendly office AND protect employees & customers with allergies.

      3. Come on now*

        That’s really rude and uncalled for. Not all workplaces have policies in place to avoid these issues. Up until recently the letter writer’s work place had no policy at all. It’s rude to say you’re glad someone is retired just because they have legitimate concerns about dogs in the workplace.

    2. allathian*

      Even service animals shed. My MIL is so severely allergic to all furry animals that she takes allergy medicines year round, a double dose in pollen season because she’s also allergic to pollen and a triple dose whenever she needs to get on public transportation where she might encounter service animals or pets, or even have a pet owner sit next to her. In addition to that, she also carries a breathalyzer and an EpiPen at all times. Her case is extreme, but service animals aren’t welcome everywhere and for good reason.

      1. You sure about that?*

        “but service animals aren’t welcome everywhere and for good reason.”

        I genuinely wasn’t aware that service animals did not have to be accommodated across the board. I was under the impression that is is covered under the ADA (assuming we are talking about a true certified service animal, not therapy or emotional support).

  19. Deanna Troi*

    Mr. Shyboy!!!! He is gorgeous! And I see he is using his antenna to contact his home world, as mine does.

  20. FCOffice*

    I too have a shyboy who incidentally is the exact coloring and also appears to be a cattle dog mix (some days I wonder if he’ll ever like anyone else). I definitely understand the confusion between should vs. must, especially in the context of a written policy. Good on you for asking for clarity!

  21. Clementine*

    Amazon and other tech companies were famous for their dog-friendliness. Now that all of those companies have their employees working remotely, and are projecting a long timeline before a return to the office, I strongly suspect that dogs will not be allowed back, given all of the other infection protocol prototypes I have heard about for the new offices of the future.

  22. MistOrMister*

    That is a fabulous photo of Mr. ShyBoy!! One unexpected downside to this covid thing is not being able to give neighbor dogs pets. It’s a little depressing.

  23. Bowserkitty*

    I am in love with Mr Shyboy and I have just met him (kind of) omg <33333

    I bet he is over the moon to have you with him at home!!!

  24. Susana*

    Oh what a sweet doggie Mr. Shyboy is! Thanks – with everything going on, I needed that. Really cheered me up. Thanks OP.

  25. Lizzo*

    Mr. Shyboy, you have MADE MY DAY! Look. At. That. FACE!!!! Many pets and smooches to you, cutie pie.

  26. Des*

    The idea of having to worry about other people’s dogs in my workplace is so… baffling. I like dogs (in a park, etc…) but I don’t want to be thinking about them when I’m at work. These workplaces are so weird.

  27. Persephone Underground*

    Yeesh, that kind of reply is so very… annoying. Like, it clarified a little but just avoided giving a straight answer like “yes, we intended to make it more strict” or “no, we do want people to bring in dogs”. Why are they allergic to communication? Argh. Unnecessarily cagey language like that makes things read as though there’s something to hide or skirt around whether there is or not. Like “so who had the badly behaved dog you wanted gone?” or something. It’s really annoying when corporations do this sort of thing, and often makes things look worse than the straight truth would have.

    1. Persephone Underground*

      It’s also annoying reading something that appears to be a generic response to a very specific question, like they didn’t read what you wrote but just sent the “yes that’s the policy” letter as soon as they saw the email topic.

      I hope they actually read your follow up- getting real feedback on how a rule was interpreted *should* be valuable to them.

  28. Not Rebee*

    I wanted to point out that there is no training/behavioral component to being a “therapy dog” and that the idea that a service dog is similar to a therapy dog can be very harmful to those who need service dogs. Service dogs have to meet very specific standards and have all kinds of training. While it’s possible that a therapy dog may have the same, in most cases they do not. People with therapy/emotional support animals often show a certificate of some kind to support their ability to bring the dog everywhere with them, but the certificate is just something they paid for and isn’t equivalent to anything a service animal would have. Which all results in poorly trained “therapy” dogs running around and making people wary of disruption from an actual service animal, the owners of which can’t even prove their dogs are insanely well trained because someone else with a disruptive dog has ruined it for everyone by flashing meaningless credentials around to avoid getting kicked out. It’s kind of a problem, and leads to inadvertent discrimination against those with disabilities that actually need service animals…

    1. Lepidoptera*

      Therapy dogs, like those brought into hospitals to see patients do have a behavioural components to their certificates. The programs are varied though and places which allow formal visits of these dogs do ask for the certificates before the dog is allowed to come and hang out. When out and about on a regular day though, therapy dogs are just household pets with calm demeanours and good manners.
      Therapy dogs, like ESAs, do not get to go all the places that service animals can go because they do not have a job they are trained to do.

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