Sunday, February 23, 2014

What is the plural for Abacus anyway?

dog in office
Your phone was ringing.  So I killed it.
You're welcome.
So does it feel like it's been twenty years?, asks a colleague.

No, not really, I say. More like twenty five.

Aw, just kidding. Like I'm sure the boss was just kidding when he said I should be good for another fifteen or twenty more. I worked out the math on that one and didn't care much for the resulting sum.

Sure, I've been working at P&G Pet Care for a cool two decades, but it's not like it's been a quarter of a century or something. But hey, if I put in another twenty years, I'd be that much older too. I can imagine bags under my eyes sagging at the mere thought.

Yowza.  In dog years I'd be ... well, let's say getting kissing-cousin close to the Golden Years. Or what I would prefer to think of as my Margarita on the Beach Years.



And to stay true to any old-timer that's been around the block enough times to wish there was a park bench halfway through, I have indeed seen a lot of change at our workplace.

Oh, but first allow me to start off here with a gentle, yet firm, smack-down on you smarty-pants out there and let you know we did actually have desktop computers back in the early days. We didn't use abacuses.

Abacusi? Abaci?

Whatever. It wasn't any funnier the first time I heard that accounting joke from some young new hire than it was the umpteenth.

Ok, so we didn't have laptops when I started at Iams. Or Microsoft Office. Or even [cough] email. And maybe I did have to type out purchase orders on an IBM Selectric (that's a typewriter, you know). But progress trudged onward and we tried like heck to keep up.

dogs in office
I taught her everything I know.
Today in the workplace we still use phones from time and again. Mostly though, mine sits silent on my desk and serves only as a prop to hold up documents for me to read. I don't get snail mail anymore either. No, instead we have the technology of instant messaging to track each other down like ear-tagged wildlife. And I said instantly, right? As in, whatever you're doing right now just stop it and pay attention to me because Ima pinging you here. On a good day, you'll see five or six of these thingies flashing on the bottom on your monitor. Yay, Progress. Keep on keeping on, brother. You rock.

And of course I was around for the P&G acquisition of The Iams Company and experienced the growing pains of doing business as a large corporation instead of a privately held company Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, y'all. But it is different.

Setting all this talk of change aside, there is a particular job perk in our workplace culture that we continue to enjoy.

Our pet friendly office atmosphere.

And it's been awesome, people. Not gonna lie.

All that stuff you hear about dogs lowering blood pressure, providing a calming presence and being therapeutic just by the good luck of being a dog ... it's all true. Our campus is ridiculously huge. Really, people get lost just trying to find a conference room. Still, we have folk stop by to spend a moment with Micron and they don't work anywhere within a quarter mile of my cube.

puppy in crate
Puppy Micron power trains for his napping skills.
Level: Expert 
He's like a guru on the mountain, this dog. What's the true meaning of life, ask those sojourners who seek peace of mind.

Naps, says Micron. Lot's of 'em. Rub my belly, oh yeah that's it, and I'll tutor you in the ways of nirvanic relaxation, young grazzzzzzzz  [snort].


And sure enough, Micron is a calming influence. All the dogs I've brought into the office have done their part in supporting the health and well-being claims of their ilk.

But still.

We've had the occasional burp, so to speak.

Jack burps

Right, burps. Remember earlier this month when I was going about all nostalgic about Jack the Wonder Dog and his Incredible Intestines? Perhaps unrelated to his culinary indiscretions, who knows really, a geriatric Jack found himself in need of a splenectomy.  That nasty spleen just had to go, says the vet. So post-surgery, I was worried about my old dog and decided to bring him into the office with me for a quiet day of observation. We were sailing along quite nicely, no problems, for almost a whole hour. Bored with the lack of drama, Jack pads behind me to the coffee station where a grab a cuppa refill.

Um, Food Lady, says Jack. I don't feel so g ... braaaack. I instinctively step back as my poor old dog empties his stomach contents onto the carpet right in front of the men's room. Huh, was he really outside long enough to eat that much tree bark this morning? Oh, there's his antibiotic pill, too. Better save that, I think.

But holy St. Ralph, people, the sound of it. It was all so ... well, juicy. At nine in the morning, the office has suddenly taken on an after five o'clock feel. There is not a peep from anyone. No keyboards clacking, all conversation has stopped.

I'm apparently on my own here.

Ok, here's the prob. Jack the Wonder Dog has just performed his favorite magic act - he made food. Experience tells me I have to clean this up real quick-like before he starts digging in. Yeah, and before anyone comes out of the men's room and plants an unsuspecting penny loafer in the quivering mess. The same aspic gel that's starting to leak under the restroom door like a scene from The Blob.

Gotta clean this up. Can't leave the dog. Have to open the men's room door, lord help me.

Now this was years before my puppy raising experiences made me a master of making canine bio spills disappear before you can blink twice. Think ...think ... what to do, but the obvious? Yes! I overturn a trash can, pull out the plastic garbage bag and just go to town, scooping up the most heinous part.

Whew, I say, wiping my brow. Disaster averted.

When's lunch?, asks Jack the Wonder Dog.

No, I got this. Really.

This next story goes way back, too. No, keep going. C'mon back ... c'mon back ... there! We're circa mid-'90's and I've just met the new Vice President of Canine Communications for The Iams Company. A fresh young thing, she is. Petite, blonde and a just a day short of being fully housebroken.

Kersee, a namesake of the athlete Jackie Joyner Kersee, is just a pup on her first trip to the office. Sure, now I'm a veteran of pets in the workplace, but back then I admit I was taken aback when the pup dropped a package in front of my desk.

Sensitive to my open mouthed reaction, a colleague grabs, of all things, a paper plate and starts to scoop.

Ok, here's the prob on this one. My new friend and co-worker is pregnant and very much so. Once she leans in start the cleanup attempt in earnest, she begins to gag.

We pause here with a question for you. What would you rather have in front of your desk: a fresh dog pile or a co-worker's reflux gone wild?

Right. Neither. The correct answer is here, let me take care of this, ok? You go sit down for a minute.


Stop, Drop & Roll

service dog as puppy
Yaxley in his "Before" photo.
Are all these stories going to be about stuff coming out of dogs?, you ask. Because I have an root canal appointment or something I have to get to. 

Hahaha, I say. No, no we have another story that doesn't involve such things. 

This might have been deer poop.

A cautionary tale of what happens when you start feeling uppity about your dog training skills, we share with you the story of the young Yaxley in A calming influence.

Clicking the link above will take you to the harrowing tale and its dramatic conclusion. No spoilers here, other than I will tell you that I've learned my lesson about pre-bragging.

Best to wait until after all is well and done.

three dogs playing
Yaxley, Micron and Karsen share the frisbee.
Or try to King Solomon the thing into thirds.
One or the other anyway.

It's only slobber

Ok, ok I hear you. Let's go into the lesser of the dog liquids. Dog slobber's not so bad when you get down to it, right?

Especially when it's coating a tennis ball. That's not gross, people. It's Good Times slime.

Embracing the knowledge that a tired dog is a good dog, our furry charges get playtime during the workday too.

Another bonus to the pet friendly office is that they have friends at recess. No sitting on the swings all alone for these fellas.

We don't really call it recess, of course.

Nope, we've got a special command for our pups in training. We know and they know - it's all business in the office for our dogs. Rules to be followed; manners to be perfected; biological events to be internalized.

But in the play yard, they sit and wait. Say it, say it, say our dogs. Please.

Dogs, we say. Release!


dog crate training
Inga and Naoko share a quiet moment in the crate.
Where is the rest of Naoko's body? you ask.
I don't know, I say. But it does appear Inga owns the fella.



service dog and puppy
Why. Won't. It. Sleep?

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