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NOVAK: ‘Your Puppy or Your Job’ Is Not the Answer 

Q: I wasn’t allowed a dog in my childhood, so as soon as I found a job and moved out, I got one. I didn’t know anything about taking care of a dog, but I wanted one for so long that I felt I had to. I took off a couple of personal days to get him settled and went back to work. When I got home that day, I had a nasty note on my door saying he screamed and cried all day.  

I called work that next morning explaining I had to stay home for a few more days to calm down the puppy. My boss was worse than my parents. He said, “I can’t tell you what to do but you should have thought about that before getting a dog. I need you at work.” I agreed with him and apologized, but also told him about my childhood. He wasn’t sympathetic and said I can’t keep taking off since I didn’t have any time coming to me. Then he asked, “What are you going to do?” I told him I’ll figure it out and I’ll get back to him. I really don’t know what I am going to do. It’s a job. Not a great job but it’s in an area I am interested in, and I could grow with the company.  

A: Your boss is right; you should have planned everything before you bought or adopted the dog, but that doesn’t solve your problem now. It sounds like you think playing it by ear will work with your boss. It may for a day or two, but only if you can tell him of a plan. You also sound like you believe your choices are to give up the dog or to find a new job immediately, but both are extreme and unnecessary.  

You absolutely want and need to keep the dog, so that is the condition to work with. You also need a decent job, which you have, at least for the immediate future. Returning to your parents’ house is out of the question, plus it would not be good for a few reasons. No. 1: Your parents are not dog people. No. 2: Turning them into dog-friendly people might be possible, but that would require a well-developed strategy and time to implement. No. 3: Even if your parents were dog people, moving back home would likely set you back in your level of emotional intelligence. It’s hard to live as an adult when you are back at home and in the category of child. If you ever planned on converting them, emphasize the positives dogs bring to humans: teaching children the responsibility of taking care of someone they love, experiencing unconditional love as only a dog can demonstrate (humans do not love unconditionally) and learning to live a balanced life of giving and receiving, which is not centered on the material world.  

You are about to relate more to the experiences that single mothers face in working, raising a child alone and finding safe and trustworthy day care. And that leads to your best resolution: dog day care. Pricing will depend on the location and conditions of the dog day care facilities, but in this situation, you may have to cut down on expenses in other areas of your life. The safety of the children, and in this case, dogs, is the main feature. Paint color, furniture style, and room decor are meant to impress the clients. Dog day care necessities are different from those for children, but for both types of day care, safety is critical. 

Here’s a list to follow when calling to compare. The safety and security of the location — secure drop-off and pickup so if a dog gets loose, it cannot run into the street; safe and secure rooms inside and safe and secure fences for outside play areas; releasing dogs to outside play areas only in favorable weather conditions; separating dogs by similar ages and sizes so large dogs don’t accidentally injure small dogs; and testing the temperament of each dog before allowing them to mix with other dogs. Last, the quality of the employees. Jobs with the fewest requirements are known to pay less, but less pay doesn’t mean a lower quality of employee; meet the employees taking care of the dogs. Are they mature enough to rescue your dog if a conflict arises? Do the employees seem alert and aware or are they holding their phones in one hand to read Facebook? If you don’t feel good about them, find another dog day care center.  

If your salary just covers your day care, it is worth it. You get to keep your dog and your job for now. As you get into your routine, you can evaluate your job as well and make changes as you see fit. 

Email [email protected] with all workplace experiences and questions. For more information, visit and for past columns, see  


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