VERNON - Ollie trots in to work at Vernon City Hall around 8 a.m. and heads to his desk in the engineering department. Well, actually he heads under it, because Ollie is no ordinary city staffer—he’s an office dog.
The five-year-old schnauzer spends a lot of his day-job snoozing under owner Ken Juniper’s desk in the community services building. Ollie goes to meetings, has received awards for his role in the office and has sat in a politician’s chair in city council chambers.
The popular pooch has been a fixture of the office since being introduced to staff at six months old.
“Of course everyone loves a dog in the office,” Juniper says. “I hadn’t planned on bringing him again, but people asked me, ‘Well are you bringing him tomorrow?’ and that’s how it started.”
Ollie keeps a close eye on Juniper and is well attuned to certain cues—when he sees his owner walking toward the back door he knows he’s getting a walk, and when 4:30 p.m. hits, he gets out of his bed and reminds Juniper it’s time to call it a day.
The petite, white and grey pup has been adopted by the whole office. Colleagues of Juniper’s take him for walks and let him nap by the space heaters at their feet in winter.
“A couple single guys use him as a chick magnet and he gets lots of walks that way,” Juniper says.
Ollie's coat is hypoallergenic so even employees who are allergic to dogs don’t react. As fond as he is of Juniper, Ollie makes his rounds and doesn’t spend all his time at his owner’s feet. He’s free to roam the office and carry out his daily visitations, often ending up in extraordinary places.
One day near the beginning of Ollie’s career at city hall—at which time he spent almost all his time under Juniper’s desk—the dog disappeared. Juniper looked everywhere, his worry growing, until finally, he spotted Ollie in the lobby area.
“He was sitting on some lady’s lap sound asleep in the waiting room,” Juniper says.
Ollie takes fewer sick days than most, only missing a handful of days a year and no one likes when Juniper takes Ollie on holidays.
"People say, ‘just drop him off and pick him up at the end of the day,’" says Juniper.
Ollie brings a lot of entertainment to the office dynamic, but he plays another valued role as well.
“A lot of staff say he has a calming effect. When they’re having a hectic day they’ll find him and have him sit on their lap,” Juniper says.
It’s clear the environment wouldn’t be the same without him roaming through the cubicles, hopping into laps, or pulling articles of clothing out of gym bags. For this work family, it’s not an office without a dog.
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