Dogs at work

dogs at work

“Sleep deprivation? Tell me about it. I only got 18 hours today.”

I left my last office job about 18 months ago to return to the world of self-employment. I had a couple of major reasons for this decision, and I would be lying if I said that spending more time with Toffee was one of them. Spending more time with Toffee was certainly a benefit I had considered, but it was definitely not the main reason. Working from home suits me just now, but it can be pretty lonely at times. Gone is the tea room banter, the Monday morning catch up and the Friday afternoon ‘what are you up to this weekend?’ chats. Most of the time it is just me, my Mac and Toffee. To ensure that I don’t completely lose my social skills, I often walk the dog with friends first thing in the morning. Mondays – it is S and A for chats about house extensions, cars and husbands; Wednesdays – another S for discussions about sleep deprivation, self development and self employment; Thursdays – chatting with L about City of Culture, music and arts. Toffee is with us in body, but not in mind. I don’t think she is in the least bit interested in the new Ford Mustang, how to do crowd control during a presentation or cities of (sub)culture. The point is she is my companion when I am working and a reason to get off my backside to do some exercise with friends and have a real life conversation. She is pretty much interwoven into my working life.

So what will happen when I want to go back to working away from home? I know this time will come at some point because I am a big believer in change (I have the boredom threshold of a 3 year-old). Will I be able to leave my trusty canine companion at home while I head to the office? I’ve done it before…

I know I’ll find it pretty difficult, which is what first attracted me to the Boss’s crazy idea of buying a tea shop. One of the places we like to go as a family is a tea shop where you can also paint pottery. (My daughter has a wonderful collection of painted pottery mermaids, dragons, cup cakes and pigs.) The main attraction is the resident ‘sausage dogs’, Tia and Priscilla, and the fact that you can take your own dog, too. The owner loves dogs. I know this because she always says hello to Toffee as if she is the one about to order a latte and sit down to paint a mermaid. Her dogs potter about, sit by the window to get some sun and, occasionally, let besotted visitors stroke them. So when the owner told us she was selling the business, after I got over the disappointment, I thought ‘hey, this would be a good job because I could bring the Toffster with me’. Immediately, I imagined walking to work with Toffee in the spring sunshine, making a few pots of tea, painting the odd mermaid whilst it was quiet, and chatting to customers – yes, I would really be part of the local community. Never again would I catch myself asking myself a question out loud. And the best bit would be that Toffee would be with me all the time, mmmmm …

The idea had also caught the imagination of the Boss (he does in fact have an imagination) and he started to think out loud: “I could be front of house and you could do the baking,” he exclaimed. Suddenly, my colourful dream seemed to go a little black and white. And then I looked at Toffee, who, having been attached to a chair by her lead, was strangling herself trying to get to the smallest morsel of cake you have ever seen on the floor and just out of reach. The dream suddenly turned into a bit of a nightmare … the Boss doing all the chatting, me producing very substandard bakes and washing up, and Toffee terrorising mermaid painters for affection and titbits. Perhaps working from home isn’t that bad, afterall.


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