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Cameron Woo

Cameron Woo is The Bark's co-founder and publisher.

News: Editors
Laughter is the Best Tonic
Study shows dog people laugh more

Do you enjoy a good laugh with your dog? If so, apparently you are not alone. So writes New York Times long-time health columnist Jane Brody on one of the many benefits her new dog Max contributes to her life. Brody’s recent article champions the many perks of “life with a dog”—companionship, exercise, meeting people and laughter. She cites a study of 95 people who were asked to keep “laughter” logs and record the frequency and source of their laughter. Results showed that dog owners laughed frequently more than cat owners and people who owned neither. The findings suggest a complex relationship between pet ownership and laughter. Dogs may serve as friends with whom to laugh or their behaviors may provide a greater source of laughter. Does this resonate with Bark readers? How does your dog make you laugh?

Last week, we marked that annual day of grins and laughter—April 1—with an in-box full of pranks. Jokey press releases, outlandish news reports and faux announcements tried to outduel each other for guffaws. Given the nature of our business, many were dog-themed.

Here’s a sampling of some of the April Fool’s jokes we received this year:

Google Apps for Business Dogs
The tech giant pokes fun of itself and its foray into social media

Moo’s new delivery system—Pug Post!
The online printing service employs canine couriers

The Milwaukee Brewers mascots square off
We love them for adopting Hank the stray, but the humor should have stayed in the locker room

Great British Chefs offer fine dining for dogs
Michelin starred chef opens a “doggie diner”

Plus, these favorites from the past deserve mention …

IKEA’s 2011 Hundstol Dog Highchair
Remember “some assembly may be required”

Warby Parker introduces Warby Barker in 2012
Glasses for dogs!

Barclaycard launches Barclay PayWag in 2013
The first contactless payment device for dogs

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

Culture: DogPatch
Dogs for the Ages
Bracketology: The Final Four of Everything charts out the top dog of all time!
Bracketology: The Final Four

Here at Bark, we adhere to the theory that humans coevolved with dogs. If wolves hadn’t chosen to leave their packs and join our humble campfires, who knows what rung of the evolutionary ladder we would still be on. Not only did dogs teach us the hunt (Sirius), they guided us through icy storms (Buck, Balto), waited our return from adventures (Argos, Krypto), saved us from hairraising travails (Checkers, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Snowy, Toto, and Asta), acted as our confidants (Charley, Fala, Gromit), served as our muses (Boatswain, Flush, Man Ray, Marley, and Tulip) and in the end, became what they are best known as—our truest and oldest friends (Earl, Old Yeller, Skip, and Snoopy). See an enlarged image of this bracket.

HIGHLIGHTS

Lassie vs. Rin Tin Tin
Lassie, the über-Collie, set the bar for canine exploits so high that all our dogs are doomed to pale in comparison. Rin Tin Tin, a scrappy German Shepherd, defined the rugged action hero. The tiebreaker? “Rinty” was a real dog discovered on a WWI battlefield, a dog’s dog. Lassie was an actor. Besides, who can resist a dog in uniform?

Balto vs. Laika
These two heroes captured the world’s attention—Balto in 1925, for his role in the Alaskan serum run, and Laika in 1957, for being the first earthling in space. Laika wins by a nose. Found on the streets of Moscow, the mongrel stray (dubbed Muttnik) wins points for her humble beginnings and her tragic end, while Balto tasted stardom.

Checkers vs. Fala
A runoff between two notable presidential pets—on one ticket, we have Checkers, the Cocker Spaniel who saved Richard Nixon’s career, and on the other, FDR’s constant companion and confidant Fala, a Scottish Terrier who never missed a photo opportunity, accompanying the president by plane, limo, and ship—giving new meaning to dogfriendly travel. Fala in a landslide!

Goofy vs. Droopy
It’s a battle of styles— Goofy, the lead dog in Walt Disney’s cast of cuddly, sentimental characters, versus Tex Avery’s gum-chewing, sarcastic barnyard beboppers, represented here by the deadpan Droopy. Sorry, Goof …

Argos vs. Rin Tin Tin
One for the ages—Ulysses’ devoted dog Argos in Homer’s Odyssey faces off with Rin Tin Tin, Hollywood’s first animal star. Argos’ devotion helped win back the kingdom of Ithaca, while Rin Tin Tin’s loyalty saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin bows to Argos, whose legend has been burnished through the millennia.

Charley vs. Tulip
J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are classic meditations on the enduring bond between man and dog. In this matchup between Tulip, a German Shepherd, and Charley, a Standard Poodle—Charley wins. The quintessential co-pilot, he guided Steinbeck’s search of America, served as the journey’s social icebreaker, and played silent straight dog to his human’s musings.

Boatswain vs. Cujo
How else would these two masters of the written word face off but through their canines? Boatswain, a Newfoundland, inspired one of Byron’s best-known works, “Epitaph to a Dog,” while Cujo provoked fear in Stephen King’s bestseller. Boatswain, in a poetic finish.

FINALS

Fala vs. Snoopy
Sorry, Fala, you’re already immortalized with your beloved FDR on the National Mall, but Snoopy is the iconic dog for the ages, so we award him the golden bone. Snoopy had many alter egos in his long career, and here’s one more for him: the archetypal “everydog.” Snoopy embodies all the characteristics (both good and bad) that we see in our own dogs. He is the muse, the prankster, the hero, the philosopher, the confidant, and the truest of companions. Snoopy possesses a little of everything that makes for the perfect dog—plus, just enough Joe Coolness to keep us on our toes. Good grief, how could he not win?

Culture: DogPatch
Paralympic Skier Dreams Gold
Danelle Umstead, Bettylynn, Rob Umstead

“Vision,” Danelle Umstead says, “is to have sight, an idea, or a dream.” Danelle’s immediate dream is to win gold for the U.S. in alpine skiing at the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games (March 7–16) at Sochi, Russia. Danelle teams with husband Rob Umstead who acts as her coach and sighted guide as they race through the courses. Rooting the couple on in Sochi will be Aziza, Danelle’s new guide dog. Danelle began working with Aziza this past summer, after her longtime guide dog Bettylynn (shown here with Danelle and Rob) was forced to retire due to optic nerve atrophy. Bettylynn will be pulling for the couple back at their home in Park City, Utah, with their son Brocton.

At the age of 13, Danelle was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition where the retina progressively degenerates and eventually causes complete darkness. Her vision is “spotted” and she can only see up to three to five feet in front of her, and even then, only contrasting colors without any level of detail. In 2011 she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Still, none of these hurdles have kept Danelle from achieving her best.

Danelle was introduced to adaptive skiing by her father in 2000, who acted as her guide. She quickly fell in love with the sport—the freedom, the speed, the exhilaration. After she began training and working fulltime with Rob in 2008, competitive success soon followed with Paralympic Bronze medals in Vancouver, 2010, nine World Cup podiums and Paralympics Alpine Skiing National Championships. Her success relies heavily on trust and communication—100 percent trust in Rob as he guides her down the hill at top speed. It’s similar to the trust and communication that she had with BettyLynn and is working to build with Aziza. Danelle and Rob have created Vision4Gold.org as a vehicle to mentor junior disabled athletes by sharing her story and offering encouragement. We’re hopeful that Danelle realizes her vision in Sochi.

Update: Danelle has finished 5th and 4th in her first two Paralympic events at Sochi and hopes to climb the medal stand sometime in her next three races.

News: Editors
Hair of the Dog

For those of you searching for an antidote to excessive holiday cheer or one New Year’s toast too many— we bring you “hair of the dog” or a drink to combat the hangover. This “dog” takes many forms, most commonly a variation of a Bloody Mary but may also include concoctions of gin, whiskey, tequila or beer. But what is the origin of this curiously named tonic? It can be traced back to medieval times and an abbreviation of the longer phrase “the hair of the dog that bit you.” It is based on the ancient folk treatment for a rabid dog bite of putting a burnt hair of the dog on the wound.

John Heywood, in his 1546 compendium, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, uses the phrase with a clear reference to drinking:

I pray thee let me and my fellow have 

A hair of the dog that bit us last night - 

And bitten were we both to the brain aright. 

We saw each other drunk in the good ale glass.

The remedy works with the belief that a small amount of whatever caused the ailment, is also the best cure. While hair of the dog is now dismissed as an effective treatment for rabies, the taking of additional alcohol to cure a hangover has some scientific basis. The symptoms of hangover are partly induced by a withdrawal from alcohol poisoning. A small measure of alcohol may be some temporary relief. Many experience drinkers swear by it, and one can make a case that it does work .. but only for a short time and then you're back to the hangover, only worse. Your body contains an enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase. It breaks ethanol down into the other chemicals that are making you ill. Adding more alcohol (ethanol) makes your body stop and concentrate on the new alcohol coming in so you do get a brief reprieve, but as soon as that added alcohol gets processed, you're back where you started but with even more toxic chemicals floating around. Unless you intend to keep drinking forever, hair of the dog is a temporary remedy at best. Instead, may we suggest a nice cuddle with your dog for what ails you …?!

News: Editors
George Rodrigue, beloved for his Blue Dog paintings, dies

New Orleans lost one of her favorite sons, artists George Rodrigue, on December 14, of cancer. He was 69. Rodrigue, the son of a bricklayer, drew upon his Cajun heritage for his work, most notably for his Blue Dog paintings, which were inspired by his deceased pet named Tiffany. The Spaniel-Terrier mix, painted with a white nose, yellow eyes and a cobalt blue body, first appeared in 1984. Rodrigue’s Blue Dog image became a New Orleans icon, appearing in advertising campaigns for Absolute Vodka and Neiman Marcus, posters for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, coffee table books and the collections of celebrity collectors. The paintings were beloved for their pop sensibility and folk art style mixed with regional folklore—the Blue Dog is a gentle, friendly version of the loup-garou, the werewolf or ghost dog that hides in sugarcane fields and haunts mischievous children.

In addition to his creative accomplishments, Rodrigue is being lauded for his numerous charitable acts. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the subsequent flooding laid waste to much of south Louisiana, the Blue Dog appeared with an American flag, both partly submerged, to raise money for storm relief. The Blue Dog Relief drive raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid rebuilding, including $100,000 to help the New Orleans Museum of Art reopen. In 2009, he founded the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, which advocates the importance of the visual arts in education.

When asked to explain the popularity of his Blue Dog paintings, the artist offered this appraisal—“The yellow eyes are really the soul of the dog. He has this piercing stare. People say the dog keeps talking to them with the eyes, always saying something different.” The paintings, he said in the interview, “are really about life, about mankind searching for answers. The dog never changes position. He just stares at you, and you’re looking at him, looking for some answers … The dog doesn’t know. You can see this longing in his eyes, this longing for love, answers.”

Survivors include his wife, Wendy Rodrigue, and two sons, Jacques Rodrigue of New Orleans and André Rodrigue of Lafayette.

 

 

News: Editors
No More Homeless Pets Conference Leads the Way
Cameron Woo
No More Homless Pets

For nearly 30 years, Best Friends has helped pioneer the no-kill movement. Perhaps, best known for operating the nation’s largest sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals, over the years they have branched out to include a diverse program of outreach and education that ranges from a popular television show to Strut Your Mutt events, and one of their most valuable projects—the No More Homeless Pets® conference. Each fall, Best Friends brings together experts in the no-kill movement, experts in animal care and behavior, marketing and fundraising, animal welfare professionals, rescue groups and volunteers to share knowledge, strategize and work together to save animals. This year’s conference is October 10–13 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bark spoke to Barbara Williamson, Best Friends media relations manager, about this important event.

How did the No More Homeless Pets Conference come about? It’s a collaborative approach to a big problem … which is great to see.
Best Friends started the conference to help groups become more effective in addressing the issues related to decreasing the number of animals killed in shelters, reducing the breeding of community cats, increasing adoptions and helping families keep their pets. Plus, to help organizations be more effective, the No More Homeless Pets Conference offers opportunities to engage with leaders in the animal welfare movement and shares information on how to successfully apply for grants.

Can you talk about the kinds of people and organizations that attend, and what kind of impact this shared knowledge is having?
Many of the nation’s leaders in the animal welfare movement will be attending the conference and sharing their innovative programs and no-kill solutions with attendees. Every year extraordinary connections are made. At last year’s conference Linda Gage, one of Best Friends’ No More Homeless Pets Network specialists introduced Denise Bitz of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue (BWAR) in Asheville, North Carolina, to Emma Dawley of Friends of Homeless Animals (FOHA) in Providence, Rhode Island. Their meeting would turn out to be fortuitous for dogs in need.

Denise, founder of BWAR, has been involved in animal rescue for years. She’s been to three No More Homeless Pets Conferences and intends to be at the conference in Jacksonville. What she hadn’t planned on at last year’s conference was meeting the person whose organization would help her move 25 dogs, many of them seniors, out of the South up North, where forever homes have been waiting in the wings. “It’s been amazing working with Emma and Friends of Homeless Animals,” shares Denise. “We’re saving so many more dogs. FOHA really takes the time to match the dogs with the right adopters, and they start to promote them before they even get on the road. FOHA also shares the amazing updates from their new adoptive families, which continue to inspire our volunteers.”

FOHA is able to take so many dogs, in part, because they are helping the market meet the supply and demand. While they regularly pull from local shelters and accept owner-surrendered animals, they have found that those dogs alone do not fill the need for smaller dogs in their region.

Both groups are looking forward to attending No More Homeless Pets Conference in Jacksonville. As Denise puts it, “I think the conference is an invaluable resource for anyone in animal rescue, from volunteers to staff that share the Best Friends mission, and this conference has so many opportunities to network and really grow your organization.”

If there is a major trend that is shaping animal rescue and sheltering what would it be? 
This fall Best Friends is unveiling the call-to-action “Save Them All™.” In many ways this program crystallizes what Best Friends has believed all along and was a strong impetus for the No More Homeless Pets Conference in the first place: Alone you can save many, but together, we can Save Them All. More than 9,000 animals are killed every day in America’s shelters—that’s about 4 million a year. It doesn’t have to happen. We know that by increasing the number of people who adopt animals, and implementing more spay/neuter programs to reduce the number of animals who enter shelters, we can SAVE THEM ALL.

What speakers, topics or workshops are you most excited about this year?
All of our speakers are amazing! We’re featuring 7 communities that have reached, or are in the process of, getting to no-kill using varying approaches. The conference features our in-depth, three-hour animal behavior sessions, professional development sessions, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program track, Technology track and much more.

Can your share some good news with our readers about the impact that the No Kill Movement is having?  
More and more communities have reached no-kill status or are getting close to achieving it—from Austin to Kansas City to Jacksonville. It’s a movement that’s picked up incredible momentum and we’re seeing communities all over the country embracing the notion that it’s unacceptable to kill pets in shelters when viable solutions exist to save them. We are on track to take Los Angeles, the second biggest city in the country, to no-kill by 2017 with our NKLA (No Kill Los Angeles) initiative. The energy and the momentum is undeniable, together we will Save Them All.

For more information on the No More Homeless Pets National Conference go to:
 conference.bestfriends.org

Culture: DogPatch
On View: Bill Traylor, Folk Artist
An exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum.
Bill Traylor - Artist

The story of Bill Traylor (1854–1949) proves that fine art can come from the most unexpected places. Born into slavery in Alabama, Traylor worked as a field hand on the plantation of his birth for most of his life. In 1928, he moved to nearby Montgomery, where he found work as laborer. After rheumatism forced him to retire, he received modest aid from a federal welfare program and slept in the back rooms of local shops.

To pass the time, the 85-year-old Traylor spent his days drawing on discarded scraps of cardboard, recording Montgomery’s bustling black community, memories of his time on the plantation, and animated figures at work and play. In the last decade of his life, Traylor produced more than 1,200 drawings. Today, he is lauded as one of the pioneers of the 20th-century group described as “outsider” artists.

Traylor’s art is much admired for its complex spatial organization, in which the surfaces are populated by flat, interlocking figures, geometric shapes and animals. Dogs are often present, passing in and out of scenes, working or observing human activities.

“Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts” is on view at the American Folk Art Museum in New York through September 22, 2013. This is a rare opportunity to see the work of one of the finest American artists of the modern era.

A new film on Bill Traylor by Jeffrey Wolf is in production.

News: Editors
Coming to Your Town Soon—The Rising Animosity To Dogs (and Their People)
 dogs_on_leash

Being an unequivocal dog person, it’s sometimes difficult to understand the opposing sentiment—that not everybody loves dogs. But this point of view was made abundantly clear this past week as I caught up to the growing opposition to dogs in the San Francisco Bay Area, fueled by rants produced in local media. These claims suggest that the societal scales have tipped too far in favor of dogs and their human companions, and that dogs are pampered and over-indulged. Last week, the very popular call-in public radio show KQED’s “Forum” asked the question “Is the Bay Area Too Dog Friendly?”—the program description didn’t mince words: The Bay Area is known for being a dog-loving region, but has our canine adoration reached an unhealthy level? Dogs now accompany us into grocery stores, cafes, and even offices, but some argue that we’re excessively spoiling our dogs at the expense of others. We discuss whether our region really has a dog-coddling problem. The hour-long program can be heard online.

The show featured a local dog rights and off-leash activist; a representative from the SF Department of Health; and a tech writer from Slate.com whose recent article “No, I Do Not Want to Pet Your Dog” (with the tagline “It’s time to take America back”) inspired the program and blasts the untenable overindulgence of San Francisco dogs and their owners. Many examples of irresponsibility and misbehaving committed by dogs and people were cited—dogs damaging city parks, knocking over joggers while their owners remained unaware and unresponsive; attacking horses on trails, thoughtless, selfish dog owners who mislabel their pets as service dogs to gain unfettered access everywhere, aggressive dogs, untrained dogs, and unwanted invitations “to pet my dog.” The activist on the panel, and many of the dog-loving callers, also tried to add a more reasoned and balanced voice and pointed out all the enormous benefits that dogs bring to the community and individuals but recognized that a “few” bad apples do tend to spoil it for the many. The tech author of the Slate article, Farhad Manjoo, a father of a two-year-old boy and an avowed nondog person—argued that parents like himself “rein in” their children far more often than do dog owners. He fueled the heated discussion that veered to the “dogs are worse than children” comparison, and a debate on which Bay Area parent (canine or human) was more irresponsible. He goes on to lament:

But dog owners? They seem to suffer few qualms about their animals’ behavior. That’s why there are so many dogs running around at the park, jumping up on the bench beside you while you’re trying to read a book, the owner never asking if it’s OK with you. That’s why, when you’re at a café, the dog at the neighboring table feels free to curl up under your seat. That’s why there’s a dog at your office right at this moment and you’re having to pretend that he’s just the cutest.

Read the full article here.

It would be easy to dismiss these claims as the grumbling of a small but vocal anti-dog contingent, but to do so would be ignoring the fact that there do exist some serious issues with dogs in our community, such as uncontrollable dogs and their clueless guardians at parks, and dog walkers with far too many dogs, for examples. These public debates tend to exaggerate but who of us have not seen or been the victim of some incorrigible dog guardian’s behavior. Or witnessed the unsupervised “play” at parks that can cause harm to both dogs and people? As a community that has fought and lobbied to expand our rights and those of our dogs to have access to public and private space—it falls upon dog people to listen to these grievances, reach across the divide and understand the real problems that exist, and do our best to tone down the rancor and to find solutions. Wouldn’t it be a shame to backslide into the “old days” when dogs where an uncommon and unwelcome sight?

The Bay Area has always prided itself on being at the forefront of the “dog-friendly” trend, and, so, perhaps it is among the first communities to suffer the backlash of being “overly-permissive” to dogs. Reading the comments on Forum and Slate, it’s clear that dogs are not every person’s best friend. In fact, popular sentiment that dogs are out of control was running 3 to 1—not an encouraging sign. Is this a concern that is creeping into your community? Do you sense that dogs have worn out their welcome? What can dog people do to stem this outcry?

Culture: DogPatch
Zuke’s—Living What They Believe
Finding a balance of work and play

Zuke’s began over a decade ago, when Patrick Meiering was hiking in the Colorado Mountains with his energetic dog, Zuke. Noticing that Zuke had become exhausted, Patrick broke off a piece of his energy bar and tossed it to him—Zuke perked right up. The idea that pets need healthy, all-natural treats was born at that moment. Today, Zuke’s offers a host of treats that are formulated with only natural ingredients providing the specific nutrients needed by dog and cats. The company embraces a healthy lifestyle of work and play, including a dog-friendly workplace—making them the perfect partner to sponsor The Bark’s Best Places to Work contest in 2013.

Tell us about Zuke’s office environment and an average day on the job …
Zuke’s offices went to the dogs a long time ago. In fact, they have really always belonged to the dogs. Zuke, a chocolate Lab who had the honor of being the company’s inspiration, namesake and mascot, was the first employee, setting the stage for over a decade of canine-inhabited cubicles and offices furnished with as many dog beds as chairs. Now, on any given day there are as many dogs as humans at work. They are welcome everywhere by everyone. During work hours, they are our taste testers, quality control experts, de-stressing specialists and relaxation authorities. On their breaks, which are frequent throughout the day, there is a beautiful creek that runs through the property with trees, grass and toys for the pups to enjoy. They are an integral part of our team, the reason we come to work each day and our reminder that life with dogs is the only way to live.

Is there an official dog policy in place?
Although there is no official policy in place, there is wide latitude given to all of Zuke’s canine employees. They can come to work whenever they want to, their humans can take a break at any time to feed, walk, play or care for them, and they are permitted to sleep on the job.

What is ownership/management’s view of allowing dogs in the workplace?
Living our lives with our dogs in tow is the Zuke’s lifestyle. From the top down, Zuke’s is guided by our passion for pets and our desire to show them our devotion. The management at Zuke’s honors this passion and upholds the values that make us a unique company. While having your loyal companion at your heels all day, everyday may be overwhelming to some, for us it’s a way to give back some of the unconditional love our dogs show us.

Can you give some specific examples of how the dogs add to the work environment in a positive way ....
Whether we are putting in long hours of overtime to develop the newest treat recipe or debating the best name for a new product line, our dogs help to diffuse the stress, lighten the mood, increase collaboration and restore our energy. Although, some of us go running with our dogs or play in the backyard during break times, it is really more about having a dog stroll through a meeting and rest his head on your lap for a quick pet or curl up under your desk as a sleepy sidekick. Their quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) presence is ingrained in the culture at Zuke’s and a great reminder of why we do what we do.

What are some of the tips and pointers you can offer a company who is looking to start a dog-friendly work policy?
We believe a dog-friendly workplace works best if it is embraced and promoted by management and human resources. Rules should be put in place to ensure the safety of the people and pets in the office and there must be a high level of respect and patience shown to the pets, their owners, and the non-pet-owners in the office. There will be the occasional accident and barking will become part of the background noise, but as long as all of the dogs are well-trained, confident, dog-friendly canines, it will be a fun place to work.

Though we are a pet products company and are thus unfairly biased, we believe that the positives outweigh the negatives for workplaces considering dogs. Aside from having a ready and willing taste test team on hand at all times, our management and employees universally believe that there are huge benefits to having canine coworkers.    

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