Local Doctor Talks About Benefits of Bringing Dogs to Work

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- One doctor in our area says taking pets to work really makes a difference.

According to a study from Virginia Commonwealth University, bringing your dog to work can reduce stress and actually help other employees.

Doctor Nina Smith said that it's great for the dogs and the patients also really enjoy it.

Smith calls them her office dogs and she's brought about 13 fostered dogs over the years.

It all started when a nun at an old hospital requested that Smith bring in her small dog.

Now, Dr. Smith also serves as a board member for the Rockingham County SPCA.

Dr. Smith said the dogs that she fosters usually don't stay more than 2 weeks before someone adopts them.
The study found that stress really contributes to employees missing work and also contributes to losses in productivity.

At Dr. Smith's office, the dogs help with productivity.

Dogs like Bentley and Bernard, who are the two fosters, really fit themselves into office life.

Dr. Smith said that when she's not in, the dogs are missed and the dogs are also a way to soften more reserved patients' experiences.

Her employees have a sense of humor about it too.

"We've had some problems with the staff that you know the dogs will slip and eat their lunch when it's unattended, so I've bought a few lunches. But usually you know we can, you know, with the bad points by buying a new lunch they'll forgive me so on the whole it's been a very positive experience," Dr. Smith said.

Researchers say the study is the first quantitative study of it's kind. The actual study looked at a retail business with hundreds of workers with about 20 to 30 dogs at a workplace in Greensboro, North Carolina for a week.

Researchers noted that employees were likely to get more exercise on their breaks, because they'd request to walk a co-worker's dog.

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