“They’re loving life in here today.”
Today is “Bring your dog to work day”, and Kerry McLaverty, Head of Operations at Laura Lynn Children’s hospice, brought in her two Bernese mountain dogs Gucci (9) and Hugo (7).
In all, there are six dogs hanging out with staff, and children and parents attending the hospice.
Kerry told Independent.ie: “There’s a therapy dog who normally comes in on Tuesdays to the children. We’ve never done it as an organisation before from a staff perspective, this is the first time we said we’d try it.”
“There’s really a positive atmosphere in here.”
A new study has revealed that workers who can take their dog to work report a 22pc higher level of satisfaction with their working conditions.
The research by academics at the University of Lincoln (UK) was published this morning to coincide with “Bring your dog to work day”.
They found that people who take their dog to work report increased absorption in their work by a significant 33.4pc and in their dedication to work by 16.5pc.
Ahead of today, Laura Lynn carried out a full risk assessment of control measures to put in place.
“The insurers gave us the go-ahead, they were happy that we did a risk assessment and followed guidelines,” Kerry said.
“We’re trying to look at ways to increase wellness for staff, and there’s a lot of research about the positivity of reducing stress, boosting productivity and team work. Today we’re seeing the benefits not only for the children and parents, but for the staff as well.”
“The Dogs Trust website had a really good leaflet around issues like infection control, children who may have allergies and staff who might have phobias. We put up a lot of signage alerting people that our four-legged friends would be here; they’re supervised and on a lead at all times and they have access to water.”
Dr Aidan McKiernan, a Senior Clinical Psychologist at LauraLynn said the benefits of having dogs in the workplace are well documented.
“It can achieve a different number of things: a greater sense of calm and comfort and safety to children and staff and parents. We’ve seen this in paediatric settings and oncology settings.”
“My role is to support the children and their siblings and the parents here. The parents will experience stress and grief and trauma. When you bring dog into that setting it can bring comfort and safety.”
Meanwhile, over at Presentation Primary in Terenure, Dublin, a bichon frise called Jimmy has a captive audience.
Teacher Rachel Wells brought Jimmy in to see the children as a surprise, principal Carmel Hume told Independent.ie.
“All the research shows that dogs have a very therapeutic effect on children. Ms Wells is a dog trainer herself, it’s not like the dog is a random pet, he’s well trained and he performs at different shows.”
“Right now, the children are sitting around the yard and it’s about teaching the kids how to be safe around dogs as well, that you don’t go near a dog unless you know them.”
“There was a great buzz, we’re delighted with him, we love him. My secretary has two dogs who come in regularly as well.”
She added: “There’s a caveat; there are some children who don’t like dogs, and any dog that comes in here would be on a lead. The children know how to behave around a dog, and in junior infants and senior infants, there’s a module about pet shops and the vet. We have a dog in once a year from Dog’s Trust as well and we teach the children around having a pet at home and how to look after your pet and feed your pet.”