We received hundreds of entries to our 2013 Best Places to Work contest from all across the country. We heard from two-person shops and large corporations who are dedicated to dog-friendly workplaces. We were introduced to a resident dog at a Hawaiian dental office who helps soothe jittery patients; we met shop dogs at bakeries (Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC) and a glassblowing studio (Glassybaby in Washington state), a rescue dog/mascot at a distillery (Tito’s Handmade Vodka) in Texas, several technology/internet firms (Advent, The Nerdery) and a handful of manufacturers (Jones Soda, Bissell). While each company had a great story to tell, three entries stood out, earning Bark’s special recognition and a year’s worth of Zuke’s delectable treats.
Midland School, Los Olivos, Calif.
24 Staff, 80 Students, 20 dogs
Midland is a college preparatory boarding school for 9th- to 12th- graders in California’s beautiful rural Santa Ynez Valley. Students in good academic standing—with permission from the faculty and from their roommates—can bring a dog or other pet to campus. Faculty are also allowed to bring their pets to campus.
The Midland dogs attend classes, watch soccer games from the sidelines, sleep on library couches and help herd the resident cattle. Dogs even play a role in academic research. Midland’s statistics class conducts an annual mathematical analysis of daily dog wanderings. Students attach GPS units to the collars of several dogs and track their movements around campus over the course of several days.
Dogs are so integral to the culture of Midland School that Headmaster Will Graham’s 2011 graduation speech centered around their importance: “An animal can teach a person to focus on the simple things … the important things … to care for and love something other than ourselves, to pick up a mess that we did not make, and to play. They reassure us, keep us from being restless, help us be practical and grounded, and make us smile.” He named the dogs alongside the graduating seniors when he issued diplomas.
PrintingForLess, Livingston, Mont.
170 Employees, 25 Dogs
PrintingForLess is the nation’s first commercial online print company. Almost from its start, it allowed dogs, the first being Jessie, belonging to CEO Andrew Field. Many more followed, and around 15 percent of the workers now take advantage of this policy. Their headquarters was designed to be dog-friendly, with concrete floors and a trail system around the building. The grounds also have a waterfall and a pond system that the dogs love to swim in. All dogs are interviewed, and must be housetrained and abide by the company’s official dog policy, which includes prohibitions against aggressive or disruptive behavior. Participating employees must sign a waiver of responsibility. The policy includes a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Employees and their dogs also have access to five acres of wetlands. The company’s weekly Friday socials have included canine agility demonstrations, dog training sessions and costume parties.
KolbeCo, O’Fallon, Mo.
7 Employees, 6 Dogs
You needn’t be a large company to have an impact, and KolbeCo Marketing Resources near St. Louis, Mo., is proof. The number of employees in this public relations agency is nearly matched by the number of dogs. KolbeCo not only welcomes their employees’ dogs, but also supports staff involved in Stray Rescue of St. Louis’s foster parent program by allowing the foster dogs daily access as well. What distinguishes the KolbeCo staff is their dedication to serving their community. For five years, they have produced an annual donation drive, Frills For Furbabies, benefiting Stray Rescue of St. Louis. They collect much-needed supplies, which have exceeded $20,000 in value. The firm also donates professional services to another local shelter—5 Acres—helping create promotional material. And, they manage to have a good time, designating their dogs as the Board of Dogrectors that helps “drive” their philanthropic activities.
2014 Best Places to Work Contest kicks off September 1.