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Help! A Puppy Is Plaguing My Workplace!

Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions to advice@wbur.org. Right now. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you'll also get some advice.

Hugs,
Steve


Dear Steve,

One of my coworkers recently got a puppy and has been bringing it to work every day since.

Some of us have brought our pets to the office on occasion but they are restrained to our desk and not allowed to bother other people.

We have a small open office and while everyone sings the puppy's praises, he is allowed to chew on boxes, people’s feet, tries to chew on the rug and a few other typical puppy behaviors. His "mom" is like any new parent, in that everything the puppy does is the cutest thing in the world.

His "mom" is like any new parent, in that everything the puppy does is the cutest thing in the world.

I am an avid animal lover, but I train my pets to behave politely in public.

On top of having the puppy underfoot, he has peed on my paperwork that was on the floor.

I have asked her specifically to tie him up and broadly hinted many times that he is behaving inappropriately.

She is an incredibly sweet person and I tend to be blunt.

I really can't think of a gentle way to convey my feelings.

Any advice?

PHOTO

Signed,
Peed Off

Dear Peed,

Wow. Office life has really changed since I was gainfully employed. This woman brings her puppy in every day? It is allowed to chew on boxes, rugs, people’s feet? Who, exactly, is running this place? Google? Lassie?

Alright. Let’s try to break this down.

1. You have every right to tell this coworker that you would like her to tie up her puppy and/or train it. You apparently have done this — to little or no effect. Your next step, it seems to me, is to tell your boss how you feel. Take a big step backwards: this is a workplace. She is an employee. You are an employee. Her puppy is not an employee. Unless I’m missing something, it’s not that complicated.

Who, exactly, is running this place? Google? Lassie?

2. But clearly there’s something inhibiting you from taking this common sense measure. It sounds like you’re afraid that you’ll be maligned as an animal-hating party pooper by the rest of the office. (Boo!)

3. But you’re not an animal-hating party pooper. An animal-hating party pooper would demand that the despicable cur be removed from the premises. Or feed it habanero chocolate. You’re just asking a coworker to control her pet, or refrain from bringing it to the office.

4. You describe your coworker as “an incredibly sweet person.” But an incredibly sweet person doesn’t ignore a coworker’s specific requests to tie up her pet.

5. You describe the puppy as “behaving inappropriately.” A friendly reminder — this is a puppy. The basic job description of a puppy reads like so:

  • Chew things
  • Chase tail
  • Bask in admiration
  • Urinate
  • Chew more things

Don’t make this about the dog. Your issue is with your coworker and, more broadly, the culture of your office.

4a. Regarding the paperwork that got urinated upon … while I realize why you might be upset about this, the phrase “my paperwork that was on the floor” is not going to hold up too well in a court of law.

Don’t make this about the dog. Your issue is with your coworker and, more broadly, the culture of your office.

5. My hunch is that your coworker is in a state of infatuation, one shared by others in the office. Eventually, the puppy will become less cute, and more disruptive, and I suspect when this happens she will naturally stop bringing it in every day.

6. Nonetheless, there’s no reason for you to have to wait her out. Tell her politely that you’ve had enough. Suggest a compromise, if you don’t want to play the heavy. Or again: bring the issue to your boss. The reason he or she gets paid more than you do is partly because he or she sometimes has to play the heavy.

Woof!
Steve

Okay folks, now it's your turn. Did I get it right, or muck it up? Let me know in the comments section. And please do send your own question along, the more detailed the better. Even if I don't have a helpful response, chances are someone in the comments section will. Send your dilemmas via email.

This program aired on December 16, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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