LOS ANGELES (AP) — Like any new addition to an office, Dolly had an adjustment period. The hardest part: learning not to bark at the mailman.
Dolly is one of millions of dogs that accompany their owners to dog-friendly businesses every day. Even more will join her next Friday for Take Your Dog to Work Day.
"I consider it a benefit like health care. It's a huge attraction," said Dolly's owner Erin McCormack, who works at Authentic Entertainment in Los Angeles as a producer on the Discovery Channel's "Auction Kings."
McCormack and her Maltese mix walk together before work and at lunch to get some exercise, and McCormack saves money on the dog walker or daycare she would otherwise need.
"It's such a great way to create a productive atmosphere. It makes the environment more conducive to creativity," she said, at a company that produces shows like the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," TLC's "Toddlers & Tiaras" and Bravo's "Flipping Out."
At the same time, McCormack added, "They are a calming force. When things get stressful, you can lean down and pet your dog or take a walk and pet a nearby dog. You get a more efficient workplace, one that's not consumed with stress."
About 1.4 million owners take some 2.3 million dogs to work every day, according to an American Pet Products Association survey last year.
When the group last surveyed businesses, in 2006, one in five was dog-friendly. That number is probably holding steady if you include one-person offices, work-at-home pet owners and retail shops, said Len Kain, co-founder and editor of DogFriendly.com, which lists dog-friendly companies in every state.
Some of the nation's largest employers are dog-friendly — like Google Inc. and Amazon.com. Keeping employees happy is one of the main reasons cited by employers.
"Engineering and software companies are often the type of company that is pet-friendly," Kain said. "These companies have trouble finding people with the skills they need and do not want to lose these employees."
Extrovertic, a health care communications agency with 40 employees and offices in New York City and Cambridge, Mass., tested the waters last year with Take Your Dog to Work Day. On June 22 this year, it is sponsored by North Carolina-based Pet Sitters International to promote adoption.
The experiment was so successful that the company went dog-friendly and Sally, a 5-year-old rescue beagle owned by supervising account manager Jared Shechtman, became Take Your Dog to Work Day's poster dog.