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Work dogs: Dogs are regulars at work in Morris (with video)

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Pippin and Stella play on the lawn outside of the Suidae building in Morris. It's National Take Your Dog To Work Day June 21. Brooke Kern/Stevens County Times2 / 3
Nicki Distad with her dog Stella outside her office at Suidae in Morris. It's National Take Your Dog To Work Day June 21. Distad and a co-worker regularly bring their dogs to work. Brooke Kern/Stevens County Times3 / 3

Chris Deegan and Nicki Distad don't need a specific day to take their dogs to work.

Deegan and Distad work for with Suidae Health and Production in Morris. The pair would be bringing dogs to work on the designated National Take Your Dog To Work Day on Friday, June 21.

"If you work in the veterinary field, chances are it will be a dog-friendly environment," Distad said.

While their employer, a livestock health and production company, provides a dog friendly environment, Distad and Deegan's dogs don't run throughout the office all day.

"He's a truck dog," Distad said of Deegan's 15-month-old chocolate labrador Pippin.

"He's put 70,000 miles on with me in the truck," Deegan said. "Having him in the truck with me and driving that much gives me an excuse to stretch my legs."

Deegan stretches his legs when he lets Pippin out to relieve himself and exercise.

They often stop on state land or similar spots for a break.

"Some days can be 16 hours long. I leave at 4 a.m. and I'm not home until 8 or 9 p.m.," Deegan said. A long day is one good reason to have his dog at work, he said.

Distad usually brings her oldest dog Emma who is 14 ½.

Emma has a rare form of diabetes and lacks a hormone to hold moisture. She needs medicine about every three hours. It's better to have Emma at work so she can care for her needs, Distad said.

Deegan's other dog Gunner, a 3-year-old Border Collie mix, rarely comes to work, Distad's other two dogs, Sage and Stella, do come to work.

Stella and Pippin are about the same age and the two dogs have bonded. Their owners call them boyfriend and girlfriend.

Pippin is usually in Deegan's office when he's in the office. A sturdy child gate keeps Pippin in the office.

Distad has a room with three kennels for when the three dogs are in the office.

"They know their room," Distad said. When she opens the door, "they go right to their kennel."

The dogs get regular bathroom and treat breaks and a regular meal.

When Distad takes Emma outside "She stops to sniff noses (with Pippin)," Deegan said.

Pippin also knows that Distad is the treat dispenser.

While "Pippin doesn't get human food," Deegan said, "I'm a lot more lenient," Distad said.

"I'm the spoiler," Distad said. Distad hands out a treat as if she's the loving aunt or indulgent grandma.

She and her husband Todd even feed their dogs a regular Sunday breakfast.

"Hash browns, bacon and eggs," Deegan said. On their own plates.

"They like it," Distad said.

Pippin and Gunner will sometimes get human food that "accidentally" falls to the floor while Deegan's financee is cooking or eating, he said.

While the pair can good-naturedly tease each other about their dogs' eating habits they are serious about maintaining their dogs' health.

Distad said German shorthairs are a naturally thinner dog and have a metabolism that allows for some indulgence. Labradors tend to gain weight quicker and indulging them is not good for their legs or overall body.

"It's like a marathon runner versus a weight lifter," Deegan said.

Although the dogs need to be fed and taken outside during the work day or take a break from Deegan's pickup, they aren't distracting.

Pippin may scratch the door if the door to Deegan's office needs to be closed. If all three dogs are at work and Todd Distad arrives and leaves, they may briefly whine because he didn't take them with him. But overall, the dogs may nap or sit quietly between interactive times.

Research shows that a dog can help reduce stress, even at work, Distad said.

The dogs never want to stay home from work.

Distad said when Emma goes to work, Stella and Sage are disappointed. So much so some days that she has to distract them to get them to enter their kennels.

Deegan said he let Pippin stay home one day when his fiancee was sick. She said Pippin just laid in front of the door all day because he wanted to go to work.

Taking their dogs to work has allowed them to build a bigger bond with their dogs.

"I think they listen better," Deegan said.

"They know your body language," Distad said.

The pair know they are fortunate to have the dog-friendly workplace.

"Not many people get to play fetch with their dog at work," Deegan said.

Yet, every day is not a work day for their dogs.

Deegan and Distad said they need to keep the dogs at home some days to foster independence and to reduce the potential for social anxiety. The dogs need to learn it's fine if they aren't with them all day every day.

Break out

The Pet Sitters International website said the organization created Take Your Dog To Work Day 21 years ago. The day was created to celebrate the companions dogs make and to promote the adoption of dogs, the website said. The website also said. "The event encourages employers to experience the joys of pets in the workplace for one day to support their local pet communities."

For a video of two of the dogs, click this link: VxvXcEhy