Pets at Work with Chief Canine Officer, Winnie

About your pet

Official Title: Chief Canine Officer for Human Betterment Strategies, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, a non-profit organization saving animals in crisis around the world.

Workday duties: Besides pup ambassador of the cubicle, she’s the hound-time hostess (for the four-legged coworkers) and chief mood elevation technician (for the two-legged).

Breed/animal: Winnie is a purebred golden retriever but she was adopted from an animal shelter, a testament to the fact that rescued dogs are undeniably awesome. She was surrendered to the Humane Society in Washington, DC at only 3 months old, a fact that’s often hard for people to believe. “How could anyone giver her up?” is a frequent question, but it’s the same story for so many homeless dogs – the pure-breeds and the mixes, all sizes, shapes, and temperaments – the only thing they’re lacking is a forever home.

Favorite workday activities: Anything that involves people is the best part of Winnie’s day.  Her tail starts thumping at the mere sound of footsteps coming down the hall.  She’ll chase a ball as soon as curl up on your lap (yup, all 80 pounds of her), and has made an art of convincing people that they’re actually the ones benefitting from all those belly rubs.

Favorite workday snacks: Chicken flavored biscuits, Milk Bones, and even those little low-fat nuggets.  Just don’t try to pawn off your old oatmeal – she’s not interested in second-rate leftovers.

Start Time: 9am. She’s very punctual.

How long has Winnie been at the company? 6 months.

About you

What made you decide to start bringing Winnie  into work? I’m lucky enough to work for an organization that welcomes office dogs, so it was a no-brainer.  And after bringing Winnie for just one day I didn’t even have the option of leaving her at home – between the devastating look she’d give me when I walked out the door and the chiding I endured from her office fan club, I’m literally required to bring her whenever possible.

How would you describe a typical workday with Winnie? As far as Winnie is concerned, every Monday is a holiday.  She’s practically beside herself with joy whenever she walks in the door, and says hello to everyone with such gusto you’d think they were handing out steak.  She loves visitors and is lucky to receive them regularly. Then between naps and ripping stuffing from her toys, she makes regular rounds to ensure all gloomy feelings are kept at bay.

Would you say that having your pet at work helps or hinders your work? Winnie might look like she’s just “puppy dog eyes” and “wiggle butts” but she’s a real task-master. She takes helping animals as seriously as anyone, and won’t hesitate to remind you that those long days and late nights are absolutely worth it.

What do coworkers think/say about Winnie being at the office with you?

Winnie easily wins the office popularity contest.  She’s definitely the cool kid in school and I’m just lucky to be her side-kick.

Do you think more offices should allow pets at work? Absolutely.  Not only do people and animals benefit from the additional companionship, it helps bring people and people together.  I met more of my coworkers in the first week Winnie came with me to work than my first month without her.  It gives people a reason to stop and chat, and something positive to share in common.

What’s your favorite thing about having Winnie at work? I certainly reap many rewards from bringing my beloved dog to work, but I truly appreciate seeing the way she’s able to connect with other people.  It’s pure joy and I’m lucky to be around it.

Hanna Lentz (Program Officer for Companion Animals and Seals) and Winnie work at the international headquarters of IFAW, the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Yarmouth Port, MA,



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