Rebecca Rideout lives in Western Massachusetts and works at a video production company. In her spare time, she works on developing her writing and searching for a house so she can fulfill her dream of dog ownership.
It wasn’t until Kip climbed onto my lap and gave me a big, up-close grin that I realized I hadn’t laughed in a while. It was the first month at my new job, working forty hours a week in a real office. I was trying to get used to this serious adult lifestyle, but, to be honest, it was freaking me out a bit. As I sat at my desk one Tuesday afternoon tapping my fingers on my keyboard, Kip moseyed into my cubicle and gave me his paw. I smiled and accepted. Before I knew it, he’d secured his other paw on my lap and hefted his snout up to the level of my nose, shoving his goofy, freckled face two inches from mine. I burst into laughter.
I should have known that this job wouldn’t be all that bad--when I first came in for an interview, Kip (a black and white Australian Shepherd) and a giant Golden Retriever warmed my feet under the conference table as I met everyone. Two years later, I’ve melded into my work at our video production company, and feel so lucky to have dogs in the office. My tiny apartment could never house a happy pup, so I get my puppy love from coworkers’ dogs, who have plenty of affection to go around. As I fetch documents from the copier or visit the video editor in the back room, I navigate the lumps of sleeping dogs in the middle of the hallway. The tiny Tibetan Spaniel curls in a drop of sunlight streaming through a skylight near the front door. The big Golden sprawls out near the treat jar, exposing his belly to passersby. In hot weather, Kip splays his limbs up against the wall of the boss’s (his owner’s) office, positioned as though he fell asleep sideways in mid-flight.
Playful moods from the four-leggeds usually coincide with, or incite, equally silly moods from the two-leggeds. We throw a ball down the hallway for the freaky little Labradoodle, or chase him around a few corners on our way to a meeting. Zoey, a female Golden who is tiny and well formed, enters the office a few mornings a week with a high-pitched whine, bursting with excitement. Her whine song doesn’t end until she’s visited every person, shaking and shimmying her way through the office. If only we could all feel so excited about arriving at work!
By cleverly turning a “favor” for the boss (taking Kip out to pee) into my daily stretch breaks, I’ve watched the subtle changes of the New England seasons through the years. The crispy tan grass of March morphs into lush green weeds as Kip leaps and bounds across the open expanse of the field behind our office building. In the humid August air, he does acrobatics in pursuit of sticks, twisting himself into pretzel-like positions in the air. We’re out there in the fall, when the grass becomes brittle once again and turns to black mush after the first frost. When the plants are only skeletons of seedpods, embossed with ice, we race around the perimeter of the field, white breath gushing from our lungs. Soon, a thick layer of snow tucks the plants back into the earth and Kip and I frolic, myself on snowshoes and he stubbornly making his own path alongside.
Kip comes up to me during Friday afternoon meetings, emulating my antsy-ness by wiggling his bum and shoving his head against my leg. Before I know it, he’s trying to climb on my lap, grinning his big grin and acting just as silly as I feel after forty hours of work. I find myself stifling bouts of uncontrollable laughter when he starts these antics, and I’m reminded again why I love having furry friends around. If it weren’t for Kip, I still wouldn’t have laughed this hard – or frolicked - at work. Thank goodness for dogs in the office!