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I Worked With A Dog For A Day And It Massively Improved My Mood

(Wo)man's best friend.

Increasingly, offices are embracing the idea of employees taking their pets to work with them. Studies say that dogs in the workplace bring about lower levels of stress, a warmer and more sociable work environment, and a healthier work-life balance.

But just how easy is it to actually integrate a dog into the workplace? And do they really bring about the benefits those studies say? I enlisted the help of Piggy the sausage dog for a day to find out.

As soon as I brought Piggy to the office, people were fawning all over her. Colleagues I’ve never even spoken to before stopped to say hello to us both, taking selfies and asking questions about Piggy. They couldn’t stop smiling, and their enthusiasm was infectious. It took Piggy all of two minutes to become the most popular employee in the office.

Eventually, things calmed down a bit, and I was able to walk her to my desk. Piggy, who slotted in right away, looked enviously cosy in her bed. I was admittedly worried that she'd be a distraction, but I found that having her next to me while I worked made me feel at ease, which was great for my focus. I also took more breaks from looking at my screen than usual, so I could play with her or give her a treat. Having Piggy around meant I was actually following the healthy work habits we’re meant to do that are all too easy to neglect.

Ninety percent of the time, my "lunch break" is simply me crossing the road to get a salad that I eat at my office. But I knew Piggy needed to be walked, and lunchtime was obviously the best time to do so. My colleague and I took her out to a local park and stayed outside for a good while, throwing a Frisbee, playing tug-of-war, and enjoying our time with her.

When I feel stressed and like I’m being swallowed by my workload, I find it hard to break out of that mindset or take a step back. Taking the time to pay attention to Piggy when she needed me meant I had more ways to break up the day and take a breather. Putting my phone down, stepping away from my laptop, and taking just two minutes to focus on Piggy and Piggy alone was a major help in clearing my head – because often all it takes is just a minute or two to regain control.

Throughout the day, people were really keen to spend time with Piggy, and I felt weirdly proud to see that she was giving them so much joy. Even in meetings, her presence was very calming, and my colleagues were noticeably more comfortable and relaxed by having her around.

Toward the end of the day, one of my colleagues stopped to tell me, “You’ve had a big smile on your face all day”. Spending the working day with a dog by my side encouraged me to take a much healthier approach toward work: getting outside for fresh air twice, talking to new people, and actually taking a minute when I needed one. And it certainly helped that Piggy is incredibly adorable.

And the impact of all of this? Well, it's clear from my face.

Pets and people can work pretty awesomely together. If you want to brighten up your workplace with a furry friend, contact Purina to find out how they can make your workplace pawsome.

If you already have workplace pets, enter Purina's #PetsAtWork contest. Submit your best office pet photo on Instagram, tagging @PurinaUKI and using the hashtag #PetsAtWork, to be in with a chance of winning. The competition is running from June 1 to June 20.

Images © Antonia Bonello / BuzzFeed