A reader writes:
I am lucky enough to have a job that I don’t hate and that pays well, and I’ve had it for about a year. Our office is dog-friendly, and my boss Christie brings in her dog, Ricky, once or twice a week.
Let me start by saying that I have never owned or lived with a dog, and my parents are both very allergic (somehow the gene skipped me, I guess). It’s therefore very difficult for me to discern negligence from just … mildly inadvisable dog parenting.
We frequently work late nights during quarter-end and Ricky will go eight to ten hours without being taken out. I’m the only one in my role, and though it was never stated, it became obvious after I tried to shoo Ricky out of my office once or twice that part of my job was dogsitting Ricky when he’s in because having him in her office is “distracting” for her. For the most part, I don’t mind. He’s cute and relatively quiet.
However, Ricky often has “accidents” by my desk in the late hours because Christie doesn’t want to take him out once they get in. I’m tired of him peeing next to me at approximately the stroke of midnight. Whenever it happens, Christie insists that he never pees on the carpet at home and scolds him because he should be able to hold it.
I’ve only had to clean it up twice, but I finally cracked last week and told her that I’d prefer it if she found a way for Ricky to not pee by my desk when he’s in. I feel that this is a perfectly reasonable request.
Further, the various dog people in my life have informed me that her treatment of him in the office combined with Ricky being at home for 10+ hours on days she’s in the office without him likely crosses the line of “mildly inadvisable dog parenting” and that if she’d just take him out more it would probably solve the problem. However, after I said something she became VERY upset that I “don’t want her dog around” and has been passive-aggressive about it (e.g. “I’d love to bring Ricky in Thursday but I guess you’d prefer he stay home”).
Do I have to apologize for asking her to keep her dog from peeing by my desk? Am I being unreasonable? I like the dog fine, but I’m not a dogsitter. I’m an accountant.
No, you do not need to apologize for not wanting her dog peeing by your desk.
And what Christie is doing is well over the of “mildly inadvisable dog parenting” and is solidly into “neglectful” and even “kind of abusive” (particularly given that she’s scolding him for the size of his bladder). It’s also pretty solidly in “bad coworker” and “even worse boss” territory.
First of all, you should not need to be dog-sitting someone else’s dog at all. It’s not appropriate for her to expect that of you, particularly given that you’re an accountant, not her assistant. (It wouldn’t be appropriate for most assistants either, but there’s at least more leeway to get there if you squint, whereas there’s none in your case.) If she’s bringing him into work, she needs to be in charge of supervising him.
But if he’s in your office, she at least needs to make sure she’s taking him out often enough that he’s not peeing on your floor … and if he does pee on your floor, she absolutely needs to clean it up herself, not expect you to … and after the first accident, she damn well should have figured out she needs to be doing something differently, and it’s absurd that she’s not.
That’s before we even get to the scolding of him, which I’m not even going to address much because it fills me with rage, but suffice it say you don’t scold animals for normal bodily functions and she’s being an awful dog parent and awful human.
Anyway, you’re perfectly in the right.
And you would be perfectly in the right to ask her to keep Ricky in her office from now on — “now that he’s peed a few times, I’m finding it too distracting because I keep watching in case it’s about to happen again.” Or you could say, “He’s welcome to stay with me if you can take him out for a walk a few times during the day. But otherwise I can’t keep him in here.” (This one is actually in Ricky’s best interests because it might get him walks, if you’re willing to go this route.)
If she makes any more sulking comments about how you don’t want Ricky around, you can be direct about it: “I like Ricky fine. But I can’t have him peeing in my office, so I can only have him in here if you walk him on the days he’s here. Otherwise, you’re right that I’d rather have him stay with you.”
Same thing if she makes comments like “I’d love to bring Ricky in Thursday but I guess you’d prefer he stay home.” Respond with a cheerful, matter-of-fact, “It’s up to you! If you’re able to walk him a few times, I’m fine with him being here.” Or, “I don’t mind you bringing him in! I just don’t want him staying in my office unless you’re walking him a few times.”
If karma is a thing, Christie is going to end up in a job where she’s not allowed to use the bathroom for 10 hours a day.