Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Working in the Doghouse...

Let me preface this by saying I love dogs. I sprawl on what's left of our drought-ridden lawn to tussle with my neighbor's dog as often as I see her (the dog, not the neighbor), and I happily greet dogs who run up for a friendly greeting on the trails of the woods where we hike. My own dogs and I have few arguments outside of the one attempting to trick us into feeding him twice a day and stealing the other one's food when he doesn't inhale it.

But to "steal" from Hiram, I am baffled by why dogs are showing up on my campus where I don't expect them:

I stumbled over a hamster-sized dog that was taking a nap in the doorway of our Student Services office last week. It yipped at me, rightfully so, and I yipped back, equally startled.

I was chastised by the Copy Center clerk for leaving the door open "too long" (thereby resulting in their resident K-9 escapee making a break for it). For clarification "too long" meant just long enough for me to walk through the door. Why is it now my responsibility to police their office dog?

This morning I had to escort a much-too-adorable beagle out of my classroom because it was (obviously) way more interesting than me or the assignment that my summer students were agonizing over. The students and the beagle now hate me. Well, let me be clear: the students hated me long before this incident.

The Student Health Center (!) has a mutt that I am not altogether sure is 100% alive; it seems to be in the same position by the window every time I pass by, its nose twitching, but not much else moving. Surely its dander can't be healthy for anyone allergic (or otherwise).

I was also accosted by an evil, evil spawn of the devil Min-Pin upstairs in my own building. I have no idea who it belongs to (definitely Satan), but it was guarding the top of the stairs, allowing only those of a certain level of evilness to leave the stairwell. No comment on whether I was allowed to pass. Isn't a potential dog bite a lawsuit waiting to happen?

These are but a few of the examples. I think I can count 12 dogs on our campus (it's a small one; it takes a full 7 minutes to traverse it on foot by a height-challenged individual such as myself, so 12 is a disproportionate number for so small a space).

Why are they at my work? WHY?! Do the rest of you have dogs at work? Are we only now catching on to this trend? Have we just been slow to catch up? Should I instead view us as trendsetters?

In the past few years, I'd noticed one or two dogs on campus, but suddenly, they seem to be in almost every staff office, guarding, sleeping, sniffing, causing people to shy away or come forth in greeting, shedding their fur. GROWLING AT ME!

Yes, I have dogs at home, but I don't take them to work where they can wander about into others' offices at will or (knowing mine), chew on someone else's furniture, or get protective of me. I would never presume that everyone at work should be as enamored of my dogs as I am. Some people have legitimate and real fears of dogs, yet here they are, wandering campus, marking their territory, owning the space that I can only imagine the Board thinks the students own.


  1. Students can claim the dog ate their homework, and they don't even need to own a dog.

    1. I always wondered about that one. Since when do dogs eat paper? Dogs eat meat. Termites eat paper.

    2. Cats SHRED paper, and sometimes barf on it...

    3. In my (admittedly somewhat distant) experience, dogs will eat a variety of porous materials (paper, fabric, interfacing) if the material is saturated with grease or other liquid(ish) food-related substances. So maybe you need to use your paper as a plate-substitute for your burger or pizza first.

    4. As for cats, in my experience they also sometimes urinate on student papers (and computer keyboards). Photocopying (while hoping and praying that no one would come into the copy room, since heated urine-soaked paper smells even worse than room-temperature urine-soaked paper) was my chosen solution to the student-paper problem; the keyboard was bit harder to solve.

    5. Yes, photocopying a urine-tainted keyboard does little to solve the problem.

  2. A reader writes:

    I am a dog lover, and on a campus big enough that there are different expectations on different parts of campus. My building is something of a dog haven, and I am okay with some dogs and definitely NOT with others. Dogs I am fine with: about 3, maybe 4, dogs of various sizes and breeds who woof occasionally, but stay in their owners' individual offices and come out for walks etc. on leash; dogs who come once in a while to visit, might be off-leash but are carefully watched and do not run after unsuspecting bystanders. Dogs (or really dog owners) I am not fine with: the large lab who is let loose from a tenured person's office into the adjacent adjunct cube farm, and sometimes into the hallway; the beagles who stay on leash/in the office, but howl as only beagles can howl whenever their human is not in the office with them, i.e. during teaching hours.

    I had high hopes that my very friendly pup could become an office dog, and started off taking her in on weekends. Unfortunately, she decided that my office was territory to be guarded, and barked an alarm whenever anyone knocked on the door. Since I could not train her to be a non-guard dog, I pay for a dogsitter rather than put off students and colleagues who are not comfortable with this. I do still bring her in on occasional weekend/break days.

    1. I would gladly had a dog like yours while I was teaching. It would have kept annoying colleagues and administrators out of my office. It wouldn't have done anything to students--they never came unless there was an exam coming up and they were in danger of failing.

    2. QWV: Brilliant. Must now teach my dogs to embrace their inner K-9 protectiveness and take them to work as guard dogs.


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