Dog Days of Summer: Five Things My Dog Taught Me About Keeping Cool at Work

Even though the temperatures are searing and dog days of summer are upon us, it’s time to think about keeping cool at work. We’re not talking about the A/C but about keeping the peacefulness of vacation alive and well at your desk. Getting back to work after summer fun can be tricky. We are plagued by vacation head and have a hard time focusing. We’ve been at the beach and at the pool, we’ve been hiking, gardening, playing…but now it’s time to pay the piper.

Squeezing back into your cubicle can be stressful. As the summer wraps up, let’s take a tip from my dog Dewey, who really knows how to keep his cool, even at work.

Like many rescue dogs of his mixed breed (Pitbull/Lab), Dewey is thoughtful, playful, dependable, easy going, and yet demanding. He knows how to make his opinions known. He talks and groans and howls and barks, but more than that his greatest attributes are as clear as the nose on his face. He uses them to teach me how to do a better job at work. His suggestions might help you, too.

Here are Dewey’s top four tips for keeping cool at work:

  1. Patience. Dewey waits for me. Even when we hike together, he runs ahead, and turns to wait for me to say he’s a good boy. Patience is a virtue that can be difficult to cultivate when you’d rather be back on vacation, but give yourself a little time. Give your peers some time, too. Breathe and realize that there are benefits to returning to work: purposefulness and the sense of accomplishment and achievement you get from doing your part…
  2. Persistence. At the end of the day, Dewey stands near my desk and nudges me. This means it’s time to take a break. Time to turn off the computer. Time for a walk. If his nudge bares no fruit, he waits quietly, and then sticks his nose under the crook of my left elbow, quickly throwing his head back and lifting my left hand off of the keyboard. If this tactic doesn’t work, he places both front feet on my chair and stands up. In this posture, Dewey is hard to deny. I inevitably acquiesce. Dewey knows best. Persist in your good work, as Dewey does. You are here for a reason.
  3. Playfulness. My office is downstairs. Sometimes on a whim, Dewey leaps out of his dog bed near my desk, runs up the stairs, and fetches his rawhide bone. As he runs back down the stairs and reenters the office, he gets a certain mischievously look in his eyes as if to say, “Mom, I have a great idea,” or “Mom, look what I have!” He wags his tail furiously, throws the bone down at my feet, and bows. At this point, he is fairly irresistible, and he knows it. The game is afoot. In your work, keep a sense of playfulness. It will make your day more enjoyable and makes keeping your cool at work more achievable.
  4. Friends. Dewey is the goodwill ambassador of every walk we take together. He makes friends easily. As a pack animal, he depends upon the friends he makes. You should, too. Your friends at work can be your allies when it comes to keeping your cool. Be there for them as they are there for you.

Vacation is important, but so is your job and keeping cool at work. Take it from Dewey and bring a little bit of patience, persistence, playfulness, and friends into your work day. You’ll be glad you did.