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return to posts November 9th, 2015

My Life With The Chicken-Dog

Reflections on hiring a dog.

Google has set the bar high. Unless, you’ve been living under a rock this last decade, you’ve probably heard of all the cutting edge amenities and perks that Google offers their employees – and just in case a rock is your choice of residence, here is a link to get you up to speed.

From daily buffets, to decompression pods – Google has it all. Heck, they even have an indoor slide. WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT?!


Google Slide


As an owner of a creative firm, it’s only natural that I am drawn to this business lifestyle – I want to create an environment for all who work here to embrace and inspire creativity and a positive work energy. Maybe it’s my past life DJ instincts kicking in or maybe it’s me just trying to keep up with the Jones’, but I want a party every day at work (queue the dance music).

But oh yeah, work has to get done too, right? So perhaps I need to tone down the idea just a bit and reel it in just a little.

Enter the “Chicken-Dog”, aptly nicknamed for her trademark “bark and run” policy.


IMG_0469 - Leia

Her given name is Leia and she has been a staple at Generator every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for about a year. She is a beautiful one and a half year old Sheltie and has been inaugurated as our Good Will Ambassador.

I’ve wanted a dog since the time I was a teenager but it wasn’t until my life was firmly planted that I was able to consider one. And even then, I had to take on this responsibility knowing that she would become “the office dog” during those long hours spent at work – I accepted that, and I even embraced that. She’d love it, right?

If Google can do it, so can Generator.


I really liked the idea of having my companion hang out with me all day, meandering around the office so that all my co-workers could enjoy giving some stress-relieving head scratches. The idea of her calmly greeting our clients as they walked in the door – those big brown eyes and that sheltie smile were sure to seal some serious deals! I saw it in lights on the marquee – “Generator, the cool place to visit!”

I’d done all my research, chose the breed based on my lifestyle and qualities that I wanted in a dog and once I finally got her, I even put her through obedience training (she is one smart cookie – she can high five and sit like a pro!). I regularly take her with me to pet stores and she even gets a fair amount of time at the dog park. My goal was to have the best socialized dog in the world – a lofty goal, but attainable!

Of course life likes to throw you little challenges.

Leia is a wonderful dog and a great addition to my and the Generator family. She is smart, affectionate and full of life. But she is an adolescent and is a quirky little coward with an obsession with shoes and an illogical distrust of anyone who delivers parcels.

Never in my dog driven fantasies, did I expect that moment of trying to juggle an important business call, while holding a cranky dog back from the delivery person who haplessly stepped through the door. Much less did I envision chasing her around the office, weaving in and out of desks and legs, simply trying to leash her to bring her out for a potty break. And hide your shoelaces folks, Leia is on the scene!

That doesn’t happen at Google does it? How do they ever get any work done?

Those beautiful brown eyes are still there, but often the first thing to hit our clients is the sound of her voice and not the charm of her smile. She is “all bark and no bite” both figuratively and literally, and it only takes a minute or two for her to accept a new face as one of our own… well, until they come back for another visit. All other times, you can find her peacefully resting in her bed or under my desk.

So that begs the question – Would I recommend bringing your lovable companion to work?

The answer is yes – probably – maybe. Providing your co-workers are accepting of a little distraction, a lot of fur and a few chewed shoelaces. You also need to do your best to remember, that in a public location, not all people have the same affection for your pet as you do.

While this experience has been a challenge for myself at times, I know that time and patience go a long way and that the first step to my Google utopia is just around the corner.

In the interim, if you happen to visit us and are greeted by our Good Will Ambassador, just remember that she is only saying hello to you – she just hasn’t learned to use her inside voice yet.

Written by

Alan Crouse


A former graduate, past instructor and current advisor to St. Clair College. Alan has 3 decades of experience in the prepress and graphic design industry and is one of the founding partners of Generator Design. When not giving his dog Mando belly scratches, Alan is an avid video game and board game aficionado.