Oh god it's humping my leg
May 3, 2007 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I hate dogs. Help me deal so I don't lose my jobs.

I'm writing this in a spirit of desperation as I find myself in my office dry heaving after needing to pick up a dog and carry her the space of 30 feet.

I'm 23 year old girl working very awesome and challenging part time jobs. 30 hours a week as a paralegal for a local law firm and 10 hours a week for a local fashion boutique.

Everything about both jobs is perfect except for thing: the dogs. By some very cruel twist of fate, both of my bosses are dog people.

The lawyer I work for bought an ultra fancy purebred puppy poodle something that cost thousands of dollars after I started working for him. He put a kennel in his office and brings the puppy to work with him everyday.

The owner of the fashion boutique I work for brings her little dog with her everyday too.

Both of these dogs are free to roam most of the time and the office and the boutique have been pet-proofed.

Although I love animals in the general sense and have a ton of compassion for them in general and would never wish an ounce of harm on either of these doggies, I can't deny I despise everything about them.

Their smell, the touch of their fur, the way they rub up against my leg, its enough to make me puke (and actually has made me do so more than once). My dad had allergies and my mom hated pets so I never had them growing up.

Here is my question: I can coexist with these doggies in the same building, but how do I make them stay away from me? Obviously strategies that would harm the dogs are out the question.

I am open to:
-learning to alter my body language...but how?
-purchasing discreet ultrasonic devices i can set off when the doggies get close. I'm poor but price is not a problem, this is desperate.
-applying lotions/creams/perfumes that repel canines (as long as it wouldn't make me too repellant for humans)
-anything else you could offer on how to make the doggies not touch or come near me.

Not open to:
-seeing a therapist to brainwash me into liking these little furry beasts.

Thank you. :)
posted by skjønn to Pets & Animals (105 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh and I've heard all the science and everything about how dogs are cleaner than humans and have less bacteria/germs etc. etc. And thanks in advance for any suggestions and to everyone who answers.
posted by skjønn at 11:30 AM on May 3, 2007


"in my office"

Does that mean you have a door? You probably can't close it, but you could put up a baby gate to keep the dogs out.
posted by DU at 11:32 AM on May 3, 2007


DU...

both of my bosses are the type of dog people that are totally in love with their dogs. As in "kissy kissy oh sweetie pie lick my ice cream cone with me" dog is my child dog lovers.

Thus, I can't really act grossed out or do anything that lets them know how repulsed I am, as it would be pretty damn offensive to them.
posted by skjønn at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2007


If you don't think your bosses would be opposed to it, get a little spray bottle and just fill it with water. Anytime they get near you, give them a squirt. Most dogs will learn really quickly to steer clear of you. A select few will love it.

It's a tough situation. I used to be terrified of dogs, then just kinda scared, then a little curious, and now I own two. How long have you been working these jobs?
posted by AaRdVarK at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2007


Could you tell your bosses that you have allergies that are exacerbated by touch?
posted by AlliKat75 at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2007


Also, I've found some ultrasonic devices but I need one that is small enough to fit in my pocket and it COMPLETELY nonaudible to humans. Both of my bosses love me and my work but I have a feeling that if they found out I was carrying one of these it would be like I had eaten one of their kids for breakfast or something. :(
posted by skjønn at 11:39 AM on May 3, 2007


they sell an invisible fence spray, you could try spraying it around your desk. I don't know what it smells like, its made for outdoor use, and it may not work for puppies but it might be worth looking into.
posted by BostonJake at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2007


Maybe you need to shift your way of thinking a little. What tells me that is "not open to seeing a therapist to brainwash me into liking these little furry beasts." That's kind of a little tip off to me.

See, I have always hated cats. My dad hated cats. My mom was allergic and hated them too. So for most of my life I wanted them nowhere near me & would proclaim them evil. People would try to talk me into loving them. Nope. I was having none of it. Plus I was allergic.

Eventually I realized that my issues with cats were going to hurt my relationships with some people I cared very much for who happen to have cats. I decided that I needed to mellow out a little and to stop being such a drama queen about my hatred of these animals. I knew I probably wouldn't learn to LIKE them or train myself to not be allergic, but I needed to just do my best to coexist with a better attitude. Lose the "I swear to god if that cat touches me I'm going to scream" thing. Because to be honest, it wasn't good.

Flash forward a few years & now I actually don't mind cats. I don't pay much attention to them. I've still never had one, but I don't register any anger or disgust around them like I once did. Ever. I realize that I was really brainwashing MYSELF when it came to a lot of my issues with cats. Now I can definitely respect what people like about them & that they're not so bad. I'll pet them once in a while for a second or two. A few of them are even cute. Not as cute as my puppy, but few living things are. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


I thought about telling them I had allergies but...

A) I don't
B) I'm a terrible liar and have a track record of integrity I would hate to mess up with them.
C) They would surely know I was lying by my lack of symptoms/sudden onset/terrible lying or faking
D)I'd rather not lie :(
posted by skjønn at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2007


1. Two technological fixes:
- ultrasonic
- spray

2. Change boss's behavior:
I assume you have let your bosses know that you're "allergic" to dogs, and it causes a bad reaction when one touches your skin? (If you couch it as an allergy, there's no issue of "oh, but you can't be disgusted by my little sweetie, can you")

3. Two possible ways of changing your own reaction:
You say you're Not open to: seeing a therapist

Why not? They wouldn't need to make you like dogs, just make it so that you could avoid puking upon coming into contact with them. That's a pretty extreme reaction, and will place limits on you in your life -- might be worth trying to work on, for your own freedom to move about the world.

If you can handle watching images of dogs, you might watch the tv show The Dog Whisperer, for tips about how to be seen as a dominant animal and get them to obey your commands (like "sit", so you can walk away).
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:43 AM on May 3, 2007


Also, try telling your bosses that you are allergic to dogs so you can't get near them. Another option is to be honest and say you weren't raised around them so you're not entirely comfortable with them yet but that you're working on it & it will just take time. They should be a little more understanding of that.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:44 AM on May 3, 2007


DO not spray the dogs with a spray bottle. That will definitely definitely piss off your bosses. People don't like you scaring their dogs.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2007


Oh and I've heard all the science and everything about how dogs are cleaner than humans and have less bacteria/germs etc. etc.

If it makes you feel any better, they aren't. A dog's saliva has antibacterial properties, because it has to. They're fucking filthy creatures.

Dogs are repelled by capsaicin (pepper spray). You could spray your shoes with it, but be very careful not to touch your shoes ever again afterwards.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2007


Thus, I can't really act grossed out or do anything that lets them know how repulsed I am, as it would be pretty damn offensive to them.

You don't have to say anything about grossness or repulsion. Just say that you are afraid they'll get into your chocolate stash (dogs are not supposed to eat chocolate) or they distract you when you are working.

Also, any reasonable person (you did say the job was perfect, so that presumably includes a reasonable boss) isn't going to be monumentally offended if you just say you aren't a dog person.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2007


They sell anti-bark devices that emit an ultrasonic noises that supposedly teach dogs not to bark.
here's one:
Dog silencer

If you can find something that's manually triggered, firing it off anytime a dog came near you should teach them to stay away pretty quick.
posted by Crash at 11:47 AM on May 3, 2007


I think you can be honest with your boss and just say that the dog makes you uncomfortable. Explain what you did here, minus the puking part. Just tell them you never were around dogs as a child, and are not comfortable with them coming up to you. Ask them to help you come up with a solution.

I am a huge dog lover, but I am very respectful of people who don't like dogs. I think it's really unfortunate that some people just don't get it. These are a lot like the people who think that everyone else enjoys their screaming children running all over, too.
posted by radioamy at 11:50 AM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


A body language change seems to be the easiest, and least obvious (so as to not 'offend' the dog-loving bosses) option.

How do you usually react when the dogs approach you?

If you normally back away, try the opposite. Stand your ground, or advance towards the dogs a bit. If you usually shrink / curl up a bit defensively, stand taller with your chest up, shoulders back.

The idea is to let the dogs know that there's a X-distance radius around you that they're not allowed in. They might not get the message immediately, but it should help.
posted by CKmtl at 11:51 AM on May 3, 2007


What you're describing amounts to a phobia. You haven't described anything that might account for your reaction to your interactions with these furry little beasts, and, indeed, your description is not of being justifiably pissed off that the dogs are invading the office, but of being physically sick that you have to interact with them. Further, you're in danger of losing your job over this (or you think you are). That's pretty extreme.

I bring all this up because, while I'm not going to suggest that you see a therapist since you don't want to see one, I will suggest that you aren't going to find what you're looking for in this thread. You aren't going to be able to either control the dogs' behavior or to adequately address your oversized reaction by attempting to do so. In fact, you're pretty likely to exacerbate the situation by either angering and scaring the dogs, or by doing something on the sly that one of your bosses understandably takes exception to.

I think you need to take a step back from the situation and think about ways to address it on the whole. Whether that's ameliorating your reactions, have a frank talk with your bosses, finding another job, figuring out how to work from home, or some other solution, I think you need to open up the terms of your question if you're really going to solve this problem.
posted by OmieWise at 11:55 AM on May 3, 2007 [12 favorites]


Using some device to keep the dogs away will undoubtedly infuriate their owners.

I suggest you tactfully bring up your discomfort. Reasonably convey, as you have here, that you can live with the dogs so long as you don't have to interact with them directly. If you're pleasant and accommodating about it, they will be too (hopefully).

You won't solve anything by being secretive about it. You'll just grow ever more irritated and put a strain on your office relationships.

If they freak out, find another job. I realize that sounds a bit trite, but if your supervisors aren't willing to meet you halfway you'll never come to an acceptable situation for yourself.
posted by aladfar at 12:00 PM on May 3, 2007


All dogs have different personalities, but in my experience, the less you act repulsed to dogs the more they will ignore you. Puppies are different and love everything, you'll just have to deal with cute puppy behavior (and poodles are the cutest puppies this way of the large breed dogs, you're an evil person). When you come in, acknowledge the dog and give it a quick pet. Let it smell you, and I guarantee that it will go off to its corner to sleep/chew toys for the rest of the day. Nothing pisses a dog off more than not giving it a "getting acquainted period."

This has the added benefit of you not looking like an asshole to your boss. You can either ignore the dog, act disgusted by it and then complain. Or you can act like the dog's best friend and then complain if it continues to bother you.
posted by geoff. at 12:00 PM on May 3, 2007


There is a product out there called Bitter Apple. It primarily keeps dogs from chewing items but can also be used as a tool to modify the animal's behavior. I would suggest that you mix this with a little water and put it in a clear squirt bottle. When the dog approaches you quietly make a low growl and spray a fine mist of the mixture at the dog's mouth. Of course this has to be done clandestinly but I think you can pull it off. The dog should not welp but it will squint, licks its chops and turn away from you. No harm will come to the animal and, if you send a consistent message, it will learn to avoid you with in a week or two.

Caveat: If you are being asked to provide some sort of care for these animals then you are screwed. You will have to live with your situation. If you teach the dog that it should stay away from you and then you have to carry it for the owner, you might end up getting bit or shat upon.
posted by bkeene12 at 12:06 PM on May 3, 2007


as I find myself in my office dry heaving after needing to pick up a dog and carry her the space of 30 feet.

I say go for it. Puke yourself empty in full view of the office. They'll just assume you have a drastic allergy without you having to lie about having one.


After one episode like that they'll do what they can to keep the dogs out of the way and you won't have to fib.
posted by sourwookie at 12:26 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why not just throw up at work? You did say being around dogs can cause you to upchuck. So, I say, go for it. Hopefully, your bosses will see the colorful display, ask you what's wrong, and then you could say something like, "Dogs make me sick." (but in a nicer way). Of course, this does mean having to throw up twice. But, I have faith.
posted by AlliKat75 at 12:29 PM on May 3, 2007


Trust me, the owners would be MUCH happier if you just said "I'm really not a dog person and I'd be a lot more productive if they're not around me all the time" than if you secretly spray yourself with pepper spray or encircle your desk with coyote urine or put some ultrasonic doodad in your pocket or any of your other ridiculous ideas. For one thing, doing any of those signals a lack of trust, i.e. keeping secrets. And it also signals a secret desire to some extent to cause harm to the pets, such as having them lick something and be repulsed or making them be so annoyed by a sound that they leave you alone.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:30 PM on May 3, 2007


I'm amazed at the people suggesting she lie, use spray bottles, and what not. None of these are going to maintain positive relations with the bosses.

Can I just say that I absolutely detest people who claim they have an allergy to something, and then clearly don't? It makes life for people who do actually have allergies that much tougher. Don't be that person.

Loading yourself up with weird-smelling stuff may make you more interesting to the dogs.

I'm going to agree with miss lynnster, radioamy, geoff, OmieWise and others - puking because they touched you is right on phobia level, and some careful de-sensitization is in order. Not liking dogs is normal. This isn't, and you need to address it honestly - with your bosses and yourself.

Why did you have to carry the dog anywhere? If for some reason your bosses were asking you to do that, I'd say to just say you're nervous around dogs, and would rather not. It's truthful. Something like that is a better excuse to stay away from them, and to discuss with your bosses ways of keeping them from disturbing you as you work.

You didn't really describe the layout of the offices, is it possible to block off your desk?



Others have said what I would have, but I'll bring up one additional thing. Your handle rang a bell, so I glanced back through your previous questions. It sounds like you've been having a really rough time lately, and I'm wondering if that is magnifying what's going on here. When you're depressed, even minor irritants can become huge stumbling blocks.
posted by canine epigram at 12:32 PM on May 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Or to put it another way, what you're asking is equivalent in the eyes of the dogs' owners to asking "hey I keep getting annoyed by crying babies on planes and in buses, is there any way that I can spank them when their parents aren't looking?"
posted by Rhomboid at 12:34 PM on May 3, 2007


...secretly spray yourself with pepper spray or encircle your desk with coyote urine or put some ultrasonic doodad in your pocket or any of your other ridiculous ideas.

Sounds like a great movie plot. :-) Seriously, just talk to your bosses. Let them know the dogs are a problem area for you and ask if you can limit your contact with them I'm sure your job description does not incluide picking up dogs and carrying them 30 feet.
posted by Robert Angelo at 12:36 PM on May 3, 2007


I'm seconding OmieWise -- that's pretty much exactly what I was going to try and say, only much better than I probably would have been able to put it.

I know you don't want to hear this, but I think you have to realize it: lots of people don't like dogs. This is fairly normal. However, very few people are so utterly repulsed by them, that they start to feel physically ill just from having one get near them (except for people who have allergies). That is not normal. I think you pretty clearly have a phobia of dogs.

Now, that wouldn't be a problem, except that you're now in a situation where your phobia is, or is about to, adversely affect your life, or at least has the potential to. I think you need to think of ways that you can moderate your reaction, and at least meet the dogs halfway here, as it were.

If you can't or aren't willing to do that, I think you should probably think about changing jobs. Most puppies I've dealt with, only get more interested in things, the more you try to discourage them from getting into them; this includes people who don't like them. If you act differently than all the other people do, the dog will probably decide that you're way more interesting than the other people, and spend its time finding new and different ways to get a reaction out of you.

Since all forms of negative reinforcement are basically out (spraying anything at somebody else's dog is a really, really bad idea, particularly when they're your boss and they're fond of the dog, it's right up there with smacking somebody else's kid) you're just going to have to act like everyone else does, and wait for the dog to get bored with you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:38 PM on May 3, 2007


You could try explaining to your bosses that you are allergic and ask if *they* have any reccomendations on what you can do. I think throwing up after touching one counts as allergic in my book, even if it doesn't fit some typical medical definition.

Anyway, by asking them what you should do, you're letting them know it's an issue but giving them the control to stop it without you insulting them or hurting the "child". They could stop bringing the dogs in, or give you a suggestion like the ones mentioned above (that would be a good way to be able to tell their feelings about spray bottles, etc), or tell you to find a new job.

I don't like dogs. I would rather find a new job than exist in a space with a dog for 40 hours per week. I am terrified of them. But that's just me. There's nothing wrong with not liking them, but a lot of people think I'm a freak and your bosses might feel that way too.
posted by ml98tu at 12:41 PM on May 3, 2007


Thus, I can't really act grossed out or do anything that lets them know how repulsed I am

Not in a way that you know would be offensive, no, but it's quite all right to not like dogs. Most dog people are used to non-dog-people, and responsible dog owners will accommodate them. I have a dog, and when people say "I'm not a dog person" or even if their body language demonstrates that (moving away form him, being unwilling to pet him), I get the hint and keep him away from them. Over the years, my dog has learned who among my family and friends likes dogs and who doesn't, and now he stays away from the non-dog people.

When a dog comes near you, he generally wants attention and / or affection, so one way you can alter your body language is to just ignore it. Don't be mean, just don't give it what it wants. Go about your business as if it's not there, and if it rubs against your leg, move so that it can't get to you. Eventually it'll probably stop coming around, but it could take a while.

A faster way would be to bring it up -- tactfully -- to each of your bosses. Say you haven't said anything because you didn't want to hurt their feelings, but that you're extremely uncomfortable around dogs and etc. etc. Hopefully they'll understand.

Although I have to say -- your reaction to dogs is the most extreme I've ever heard of, and hopefully someday you will be open to therapy, not to make yourself like dogs, but to learn to deal with your feelings in a less extreme manner. Throwing up is not a normal response.

p.s. And no offense to aardvark, but I think the spray bottle is a terrible idea. As a dog owner, I would be pissed if someone sprayed my dog with water when they could have just come to me about the issue instead, and as a boss I would think you were weird for dealing with the issue in such a backhanded manner.
posted by boomchicka at 12:47 PM on May 3, 2007


From my experience in different environments, I would suggest you find a new job/jobs.

This isn't a phobia. You wouldn't be picking up the dogs, you'd be terrified of them.

In my experience with the type of pet lovers you describe your bosses as, they simply will not get that you don't want to be around panty charlie and slobbery ralph. It does not compute with them. They love their pets and think they can do no wrong. You have the funny post title but their dogs could literally be "secreting" on your leg and they'd say "oh charlie (giggle), you old coot!"

Get away.

I have pet allergies but like pets, and I'm telling you - get away. Sooner or later they're going to want you to be all lovey-dovey with ralph and charlie, and it just won't end well. Again, no amount of discussion with people like the ones you describe, will get them to see that you don't want their slobbery, furry dogs on you.

I just think you should get away before the inevitable decline in work performance and relationship occurs. It was a cruel twist of fate indeed - accept it and move on.

You have a week to make it until you can ask a new question about paralegal and/or boutique positions in your area.
posted by cashman at 12:54 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lying about allergies is indeed dumb and dishonest. Allergies are serious health issues that people die from, not excuses to avoid things you happen to dislike.

You might try being very straightforward and honest, minus the histrionics, and to frame it as a training issue.

"Boss, can we talk about your dog? I wasn't brought up around dogs and am very uncomfortable when they come up right next to me. I wish I wasn't this way, but I always have been. Can you -- or we -- work on training your dog to understand a go-away command so that I can better concentrate on my work instead of on what's the dog going to do next? Or maybe train the dog to stay out of my cubicle / office / work area? I'd be happy to help in the training any way that I can, and I just bet it would be good practice for you and your dog both."

And, yes, if your dislike of dogs is so strong that their touch makes you puke, you have a real problem that merits real treatment.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:55 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another option is to be honest and say you weren't raised around them so you're not entirely comfortable with them yet but that you're working on it & it will just take time. They should be a little more understanding of that.

Depending on what her bosses are like, that might be a bad idea. Lots of animal people I know might take that as a cue to start helping your dog-acclimation. "Hey, you're trying to get used to dogs, right? Well, how about starting with the best little puppy in the whole wide universe??"

I think you gotta be polite, but firm. I actually think it might be effective to use the word "phobia." Focus on the irrational fear aspect rather than the grossed-out aspect and you'll be less likely to offend.
posted by granted at 12:57 PM on May 3, 2007


Additionally, don't feel weird about not liking dogs at all or feeling repulsed by them. While I think they are cute and think the same of cats, there are plenty of times I can't stand them and watching them lick their owners teeth makes me want to expel the contents of my stomach to record-setting distances.

I can tell when someone has a pet, typically a dog, when I walk in their house (right before walking back out due to allergies). I know that smell that makes one sick. I know that feeling of being jumped on while the owner makes googly eyes at their pet whilst it claws off your epidermis.

Don't feel bad or weird about being repulsed. I think it's quite fine.
posted by cashman at 12:59 PM on May 3, 2007


cashman: This isn't a phobia. You wouldn't be picking up the dogs, you'd be terrified of them.

A phobia doesn't necessarily entail running away screaming from something. A person with a specific phobia can still be near or touch or do what they're phobic of, but it would be with extreme anxiety and/or disgust.

And yes, it does sound like this is a phobic situation. If this were "I puke whenever I have to touch a spider", people would also be calling it a phobia.

posted by CKmtl at 1:09 PM on May 3, 2007


Depending on what her bosses are like, that might be a bad idea. Lots of animal people I know might take that as a cue to start helping your dog-acclimation. "Hey, you're trying to get used to dogs, right? Well, how about starting with the best little puppy in the whole wide universe??"

I think staying firm is a great idea, but I think she needs to give the bosses the benefit of the doubt and talk to them honestly. Their reaction to that will tell her everything she needs to know.

Obviously if they're not interested in finding ways to accomodate you, rather than to push you to change, you know you'll be needing a new job.
posted by canine epigram at 1:09 PM on May 3, 2007


Another option is to be honest and say you weren't raised around them so you're not entirely comfortable with them yet but that you're working on it & it will just take time. They should be a little more understanding of that.

Depending on what her bosses are like, that might be a bad idea. Lots of animal people I know might...

Then she may as well find out about this now and minimize her misery working for a jerk.

Be a grown-up. There's a real shortage of them, even in the workplace, and every time someone decides to behave calmly and reasonably they set a good example for everyone else.

"Hey boss, have a second? Listen, I know this might be hard for you to understand cause I can see how much you love sparky, but I have kind of a bad history with dogs and they freak me out a little. I love working here, though, so can we find some way for me to minimize my contact with sparky?"

You don't have to do into any of your feelings more than that and you don't have to discuss your reasons for your feelings. "It's kind of personal and goes back a long way - I'm really not comfortable talking about it."

If they give you a "love the dog or get out" approach then leave, and be glad you found out they're unsympathetic jerks before you invested more time with them.
posted by phearlez at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thank you everyone for the answers so far. Also, puking is extreme, but I am with cashman.

Seeing dog owners (and the fashion boutique owner does this) french kiss their little beasts and lick all over eachothers faces makes me want to crumble into dust and I refuse to believe I am a freak for feeling this way.

I think I will try to buy an ultrasonic pocket device that is made for joggers. Are they audible at all to humans?
posted by skjønn at 1:20 PM on May 3, 2007


Also, I do apologize for the constant perjorative use of the word "beast." Truly, I would never wish harm on any small creature (hell, I've even been transitioning to vegan the past few months) but that doesn't mean I want to live beside and lick them.
posted by skjønn at 1:23 PM on May 3, 2007


I think you should couch it as a phobia, and let your bosses know that it's going to take you a really long time before you don't find the dogs distracting and anxiety-producing.

Tell them that you're trying, but in the meantime, please understand that it's nothing against the dogs (or them) and that you don't dislike dogs on principle, but you aren't going to be able to be affectionate with the dogs. None of this is a lie.

You know how people "talk to their pets" sometimes in order to communicate with others within earshot? Do that. When preciouspricypoodle prances up to you, tell him "no no, go over to your dad for some snuggles -- he loves you the most and I'm too busy."
posted by desuetude at 1:23 PM on May 3, 2007


"It's kind of personal and goes back a long way - I'm really not comfortable talking about it."

Ooh, this is good, too.
posted by desuetude at 1:24 PM on May 3, 2007


skjønn: ... french kiss their little beasts and lick all over eachothers faces makes me want to crumble into dust and I refuse to believe I am a freak for feeling this way.

Don't take this as me hounding (heh) you... But you initially said: "Their smell, the touch of their fur, the way they rub up against my leg, its enough to make me puke (and actually has made me do so more than once)."

Being squiked out by, and not wanting to participate in, interspecies make-out sessions is one thing. What you describe in your original question is a whole other level, as OmieWise and others have said.
posted by CKmtl at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2007


Skjonn, I adore dogs of all sorts but I am still disgusted by the sort of behaviors you mention. This is different from being disgusted by a dog's mere presence, to the point of wanting to throw up at the merest physical contact.

What I have to say next is not meant as judgemental or negative: It's OK not to like dogs, but if you are made physically sick by holding a puppy or when it rubs your leg, there is something wrong with you. I mean medically wrong, like a phobia or pheremone sensitivity. That is just not right or normal. This does not make you a bad person.

Carrying a device designed to cause discomfort to dogs and repel them, when they are spending time with you in an enclosed office, WOULD make you a bad person. You are proposing to torture a pair of puppies because you can't stand to be honest with a pair of humans. What happened to your vaunted "integrity"?

You have obviously come to your decision on how you want to deal with the situation before you came to us, because it's clear you're not listening. We're NOT proposing therapy or something like that. We're almost ALL of us telling you that the solution to your problem is honest self-assertion and not surreptitious use of dubious technology in a probably inhumane manner.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 1:42 PM on May 3, 2007 [8 favorites]


Are your bosses reasonable people? It seems like you have gone way out of your way and felt personally tormented about how you can assert your right to a dog-free workplace without offending people you clearly respect a great deal. If you could find a way to make them see this, I have to think a solution could be negotiated.

I don't puke when I see a dog, but I watched my 4 year old sister get attacked by a neighbor's dog who everyone swore "loved" children and would never bite. They're animals. They can act impulsively and unpredictably. It's reasonable to be able to protect your personal space from an unwanted intrusion by an animal.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:46 PM on May 3, 2007


Using the ultrasonic device (if it actually works) in an enclosed space could have a huge negative impact on the dogs, because when you're jogging, they can easily get away, but depending on how far the sound reaches, it could panic them even when they're in the boss's office. This could cause them to act in incredibly unpredictable ways.

The most straight-foward way to solve the problem would be to explain your feelings to your boss.
posted by drezdn at 1:55 PM on May 3, 2007


I think I will try to buy an ultrasonic pocket device that is made for joggers. Are they audible at all to humans?

I can hear almost all of the "ultrasonic" mosquito/dog/etc repellent machines and so can many other people.

If you turn your shoulders, face and torso away from a dog and ignore it steadfastly it will go away pretty quickly. This even works on my own gross face-licky-loves-me-to-pieces dog. Think the most extreme body language you can to signal "I am turning away from you, don't touch me" like you are the world's biggest over actor in the community play. Too many people make the mistake of saying "go away" when inadvertently signaling something else with their body. Adopting a statue mode also works: hands down at your side, stare at the ground, do not move. Giving them zero attention means that you're not interesting and they'll move on.

Dogs are also very sensitive to space, if you put your feet on the floor and shuffle forward rapidly they'll get out of the way. Do not kick them, but slide your feet rapidly along the floor and move with intent so that your path is through them. They will move out of the way and it also teaches them to avoid loitering under your feet and tripping you.

I teach these three to small children and dog averse friends and it works very well without hurting or scaring my dogs. You'd be amazed at how fast a happy friendly dog will turn off if you stand as still as a statue.
posted by hindmost at 2:02 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


drezdn brings up a very good point, but you should also consider this -- even if the sonic device works perfectly and the dogs never go within five feet of you, someday the boss is going to notice that the dog never goes near you and wonder why. They may even try to bring the dog over to you, at which point the dog will freak out majorly.

It sounds like your mind is pretty well made up, but I'd suggest honesty.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:12 PM on May 3, 2007


I don't understand how you can be, on the one hand, unwilling to tell a lie about being allergic to dogs but then on the other engage in a surreptitious activity that is both unlikely to work and quite likely to cause the dogs discomfort. You don't have to like dogs or want to be around them but you do have to be a grown-up about it.

You are much more likely to come to a satisfactory arrangement with your bosses if you approach them about it and, if you can't, at least you can leave on good terms. If they find out that you're secretly carrying a device to repel the dogs you'll be turfed out - not for disliking dogs but for being, like, crazy.
posted by marylynn at 2:15 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Imagine something really high pitched and annoying. Mic feedback or something. You've heard it and you hate it, we all do. Now imagine that every time you set foot in a place you associate with "home" and "love" and "food" and everything else you like, you hear nothing but that for eight hours a day.

That is what your are proposing to do to these dogs. They're trapped with you as much as you're trapped with them, so a solution that causes continued discomfort for them doesn't solve the problem (discomfort in the workplace), it just shifts it onto another (albeit nonhuman) party.

Also, if you do this and don't tell your boss about it, when either of them finds out you will be fired. And when your prospective new boss calls one of them to ask why you were let go the answer will be: "She passive aggressively tortured my dog instead of talking to me about her discomfort with the animal in the workplace."
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 2:31 PM on May 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


That the....Some of the "advise" here is so frigg'n unethical I am simply astounded.

People are essentially urging you to surreptitiously use chemical agents or out-right lie to your employers. What the hell is wrong with people? If I found out you were using some kind agent or devise behind my back to "shoo" my pet and I was your boss... I would fire your ass. And perhaps, depending on the agent used, sue your ass.

How about this: Tell them you don't like dogs?

The problem is you have a serious irrational fear that you have mis-represented to the people you work for who, obviously, as a pre-condition to employment whether it was stated to you or not is to require you to NOT have this phobia.

This is your problem. Not the dogs and not your employers.

It totally un-ethical for you to stay harboring what is sheer revulsion and hostility for something that appears to be important to your employer. You are not doing them or you any favors.

You either need to get over your phobia or get a new job. If you're serious about keeping this job then you can get over your phobia by seeking psychological counseling.

It won't be the first time in life you may have to be around dogs or pets.
posted by tkchrist at 2:34 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Be a grown-up. There's a real shortage of them, even in the workplace, and every time someone decides to behave calmly and reasonably they set a good example for everyone else.

I cannot underscore this enough. If you indeed wish to act maintain your integrity AND do not wish harm on these animals, then you will not use a device on them that will cause discomfort and possibly panic.

If, however, you persist in taking that route, then I'd suggest you own up to the fact that your actions speak louder than your words, and that you don't actually care about whether you hurt the dogs or not, and that your integrity comes and goes, depending on how comfortable it is for you to maintain it. But you can't have it both ways.

Either speak up to your boss about your phobia -- and you can stubbornly deny it all you want, but that's what you're describing -- to see if they are willing to work with you on this, or get another job. (Or, third option: do the deceitful and possibly harmful thing, and be prepared for the consequences.)
posted by scody at 2:44 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty surprised to see you concluding that an ultrasonic device is the right way to go, when several commenters have pointed out major disadvantages to this approach, and the majority of answers in this thread have suggested that you calmly and rationally talk to your bosses about the issue. You've got the perfect approach already from phearlez:

"Hey boss, have a second? Listen, I know this might be hard for you to understand cause I can see how much you love sparky, but I have kind of a bad history with dogs and they freak me out a little. I love working here, though, so can we find some way for me to minimize my contact with sparky? ... It's kind of personal and goes back a long way - I'm really not comfortable talking about it."
posted by vytae at 2:59 PM on May 3, 2007


Tell your bosses to keep their dogs away from you or you will have to regretfully find other employment.

If you are a good employee (and I assume you are) they will work with you as it really is hard to find good help these days.

I hate dogs too. I hate dog smell, dog slobber, dog hair, the whole bit. And I don't think you are nuts. Dogs are just gross.

You are there to work a job and petsitting should not have to be part of it.
posted by konolia at 3:00 PM on May 3, 2007


I think some people need to settle down. The asker has said she will not do anything to hurt the dogs, so if she planned to use an ultrasonic device, it was clearly in ignorance of the discomfort it might cause the dogs throughout the workplace(s). Also, she has said she does not want to be dishonest (to the extent she won't claim an allergy, a pretty minor white lie), so all the "grow up" advice is misplaced.

That said, I agree that a heart-to-heart with the bosses is in order. Personally I do not think interaction with a poodle roaming free in a law office is a reasonable demand (and she does mention the poodle was acquired after she took the job). The asker is not the one acting unprofessionally here.

Talk to your bosses, skjønn--and yeah, if THEY cannot act like grownups, find a new place to work.
posted by torticat at 3:02 PM on May 3, 2007


Wow everybody stop freaking out!

I don't plan to torture nor would I ever torture any dog.

I had only thought I would push the button or whatever if said dog was actually aggressively humping/pawing/touching me.

So to Doublewhiskeycokenoice and anyone who thought I was going to turn it on for 8 hours a day- please calm down and reread what I wrote.

Also, if said device is audible to humans it wouldn't work for me anyway.
posted by skjønn at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2007


Also, I have not been charged in any way with providing care for these dogs. They just have free roaming privileges. Due to the nature of the work environment, keeping my door shut and locked so the dog can't nudge in isn't really an option either. Usually I only shut my door if I have a one on one meeting with a client.
posted by skjønn at 3:16 PM on May 3, 2007


boomchicka: No offense taken. I didn't gather from her description that she wanted to maintain secrecy. I definitely would not recommend the spray bottle or pretty much any method here if you are not willing to talk about it with your bosses. Either learn to deal with them or move on to another job. Personally, I'd go with learn to deal with them. I know my own fears and distaste for dogs were simply from lack of exposure and ignorance. Once I learned more about dogs, I grew to like them very quickly.

And I'd be very, very careful with body language. The only effective ones are aggressive ones, and the last thing you want is to provoke one of those dogs into attacking you. That would make for a very uncomfortable situation with your bosses.
posted by AaRdVarK at 3:23 PM on May 3, 2007


There is no way to secretly repel a dog in a situation like this, because if the dog's owners are as attuned to the dog as you are describing, they will notice that the dog is repelled by you. They will then either ask you what's going on or, even worse, simply take steps to try to get you and the dog to bond, such as bringing the dog into your office or telling the dog in a cutesy baby-talk voice to cuddle with you.

In other words, the only way to get what you want here is to be honest with your bosses.
posted by decathecting at 3:29 PM on May 3, 2007


Unless you're exaggerating wildly, your original post makes it sound like you're having a phobic response. I don't like reptiles: I wouldn't choose to have one in my home, I don't want to hold one, thinking of other people cuddling up with their pet lizard kind of weirds me out. What it does not do is make me sweat nervously, or make my heart rate spike, or make me want to puke: that would be a phobic response, in my opinion.

There's some totally awful advice in this thread. Dogs have extremely sensitive noses, but they also don't necessarily consider "bad" smells to smell bad: almost any folk remedy to keep dogs away will not work on all dogs, and some of them - such as capiscum - may actually hurt them.

Absolutely do not use an ultrasonic device. I am able to hear extremely high frequencies people are theoretically not supposed to hear, and my immediate, unstoppable, physical response is, guess what, nausea. Aside from the fact that it's amazingly cruel to the dog, what if your boss or one of the clients can hear it?

This is my advice to you: go talk to your bosses and say: "Listen, this is sort of embarrassing, but I have a pretty serious dog phobia. It's not something I can help, and it's making me hard to do my job. I hope it's clear that this has nothing to do with your dog-- it's just a wiring fault in my brain, but it's really upsetting to me when Rover comes up to me at my desk. Is there any way we can keep him out of my immediate work environment? I was thinking maybe a baby gate in my doorway?"

Stop thinking about this a zero-sum game, you against the dogs, and go to your bosses and ask for help in making your work environment livable for you. But don't be a jerk about it: they don't even know their dogs are freaking you out, and it's certainly no more their fault, or the dogs' fault, than it is yours.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:35 PM on May 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find myself in my office dry heaving after needing to pick up a dog and carry her the space of 30 feet.

Sounds like you are well on the way to curing this (near?)phobia. Just live with it for a couple more weeks, and you won't even notice anymore.
posted by Chuckles at 3:37 PM on May 3, 2007


skjønn: Without sidestepping the question (meaning, putting aside all descriptions of disgusting dog/owner behavior, your extreme distaste, etc.), could you explain why, exactly, speaking to your bosses like an adult isn't an option? Do you have any reason to believe, based on your bosses' behavior when interacting with you or your other coworkers (i.e., not based on their affection for their dogs alone), that they will dismiss you or become hostile if you present your concerns in an honest, respectful, responsible manner?
posted by scody at 3:40 PM on May 3, 2007


Surreptitious activity, no matter how benign, will harm your ability to communicate with your bosses and coworkers.

Some people have pasts that lead them to be, for better or worse, very wary and vigilant against others' unreadable actions. In exactly the same way that dogs are wary of your body language, people will be wary as well. Since you're not willing to communicate, people will see your covert actions and fill in their own interpretations. Please think about the worst-case interpretation of your actions and decide if that's really something that you want your bosses and coworkers to believe about you. You may think your jogger alarm is benign, but that is not the worst-case interpretation. The worst-case interpretation is that you do wish harm (just think of how many times you've had to deny it in this thread where you've truthfully and, without hiding anything, spelled out the whole story).

Furthermore, your covert training may interfere with the owners' own legitimate training.

If you value your integrity, then an unspoken lie should be just as damning as a spoken one.

Also, if you love your jobs so much, then a piece of that must be the culture of the workplace. Dogs at work is another piece of that open culture.

You have the opportunity to be the adult in this situation and model professional behavior. Forcing one's beloved puppy on one's coworkers is not professional and you have every right to point that out to your bosses. Note: It's not the puppy at work that's unprofessional, it's the fact that you have no choice in the matter. The reactions that you imagine your bosses making (e.g. "oh, everyone loves my little snookums, you just need more time with them.") is not only unlikely, but that scenario could be countered by pointing out that it is not your job duty to interact with others' pets and it's unprofessional for them to expect you to.

Even if your covert jogger alarm plan protects you, it presupposes that you're the only one with a problem. There may be others who feel uncomfortable and you're in a unique position to stand up for yourself and possibly help others like you.

I will also say that a lot of people use their dogs' reactions and others' reactions to their dogs as judges of character. As unfair as I'm sure this sounds to you, it's useful or perceived as useful for many people. It would be best to use this situation to make a case for your own character, as opposed to letting others make it for you.

And yeah, watching owners kiss their dog on the lips is pretty gross, but it also doesn't affect your body or your personal space in the slightest. If you don't make judgments about your coworkers who do other gross things with their own bodies, like smoking, or biting fingernails or overeating, or if you think that those things are none of your business, it would help free up your own mental stress by viewing peoples' dog kissing habits in the same way.

There are a ton of books on learning animal body language. One in particular was recommended by our last vet to my partner who worked in a kennel. I'll try to figure out the title and post it here.
posted by Skwirl at 3:40 PM on May 3, 2007


Please don't use a sonic device or something similar to keep the dog away from you. Chances are, it would make them feel uneasy in their environment as well, which is sort of unfair to the dog. You didn't indicate that the dogs are vicious or otherwise aggressive, just that you don't like them around you. Since they aren't doing anything that would cause you to come to harm, and since they're there because your bosses want them there, they actually do belong there (especially if they also happen to own the businesses and are therefore not subject to anyone else's rules concerning pets in the workplace).

I also disagree that "Forcing one's beloved puppy on one's coworkers is not professional and you have every right to point that out to your bosses." The atmosphere of the office is dictated by the owner. You have the right to express your feelings about having the dog there, but you also have the right to forfeit your job if you don't like it.

If you can express that you enjoy your job, but that dogs make you uncomfortable, and since they like you so much, perhaps your bosses would be happy to accommodate you in such a way that your job does not involved handling them, and might be amenable to making sure that they're easy for you to avoid.

By the way - are you sure you're not allergic in some way? Vomiting as a reaction to the slightest physical contact with a dog seems really, really extreme.
posted by mewithoutyou at 4:07 PM on May 3, 2007


And I'd be very, very careful with body language. The only effective ones are aggressive ones...

This is just plain false. If dogs can understand praise and enthusiasm they can understand disinterest. These are not by default aggressive dogs as they are in the office day in and day out, if you offer them nothing in the way of attention, they will find another way to amuse themselves. Ignoring a dog/taking away attention is a very common way to inhibit excited dogs and teach them polite manners. Patricia McConnell is a good source for information on body language but her book also covers many many other things.

Another good way to solve your current problem if you can tolerate it is to teach the dog another behavior. If you can stomach doing some training, you can teach Rover a cute trick that also keeps him out of your space. Even a good bone or chew toy that you give him to chew in his spot away from you would probably be a help. You get the added bonus of seeming like a good friend.

This does not preclude you being up front with your boss, but you giving Rover a toy blunts the conversation about how you can't stand to be around dogs.
posted by hindmost at 4:08 PM on May 3, 2007


"Forcing one's beloved puppy on one's coworkers is not professional and you have every right to point that out to your bosses."

What a load.

Nobody is forcing anybody to work there.

I can only explain this from my point of view. I bet it's similar to the point of view of these other business owners.

We have a dog in our office. Our dog.

When we hire people we simply say "You had better like dogs or at least be able to tolerate them." Our dog is integral to the tone, personality, and tenor of our lifestyle and business. He is the mascot and also a founding partner. You don't have to love him. But his status is superior to yours. End of story. Tough shit if you don't like it.

This is OUR business. My wife and I own it. We started a business so we could do things the way we like. We put in the 14 hour days. We built the clients. We risked personal bankruptcy. So. Start your own business and have a pet free zone if you want.

If I found out somebody was using some kind of device in MY business because they secret harbored an actual HATRED - and THAT is what this person said "HATE" and that is about as irrational as a person can get - of my animal they are acting dishonestly and immaturely. By continuing to work there without expressing themselves honestly they are mis-representing themselves. It is unethical.
posted by tkchrist at 5:11 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


tkchrist, I think that you're being unreasonable and failing to read the question in full:

"The lawyer I work for bought an ultra fancy purebred puppy poodle something that cost thousands of dollars after I started working for him."

This can in no way construed as her misrepresenting herself (at least at her primary job; there's not enough information to say anything about the job at the shop). She got hired, things were going well, and then her boss changed the rules and expects everyone to be omg so thrilled because now there's a precious widdle doggie-woggie around and oh isn't he so sweet and -- ew.

If the dog had been in place when she was hired, that would be one thing, but I think that this is a completely different situation than what you're describing. Most employers don't interrogate people about their feelings about domestic animals before hiring.

skjønn, I have no useful advice, other than you might want to start looking for a new job. My general experience has been that when you have people who are this obnoxiously in love with their pets, you're not likely to have a reasonable conversation about how much said pet bothers you, regardless of if you couch it as an allergy, a phobia, or whatever else.

If you really don't want to leave your job, you might want to try cultivating a friendship with the dog. It will be awful at first, and you will be grossed out by everything: its breath, its fur, its creepy wet eyes, the way that they chew things... After a while, though, you will start to be less bothered by parts of it, at least. The more often you touch fur, the less revolting it will be; the more often it's breathing near you, the less bothered you will be by the panting. Don't get me wrong: you'll have an initial period of wanting to vomit and tear out your hair every time the thing is in your office, but for me, at least, it lessens with time and repeated exposure. Best of luck.
posted by meghanmiller at 5:58 PM on May 3, 2007


I love dogs. At least, my dogs. Other people's dogs are usually kind of stupid, gross and pointless. But my dogs are precious widdle doggie-woggies. And yes, they lick my teeth.

And... I am perfectly aware that lots of people have an aversion to dogs. That's why my dogs (the size of a cat or smaller) need to be on leashes in public: because lots of people out there are terrified of my chihuahua. I think it's largely ignorance in many cases (people don't know how to interpret dog behaviour and are therefore frightened of what they don't understand) but that's not the point. As a responsible member of the public, I need to keep my dogs leashed out of respect for my neighbour.

What I'm saying is, if your bosses are genuinely reasonable they will be able to cope with the idea that you have a strong aversion to dogs and that you need a baby gate. If they don't, it's something they'll need to learn eventually and they might as well start now.

So be direct and honest. You have an aversion to dogs and you're asking for their cooperation.

*** *** ***

RE phobias. They aren't defined by whether they're logical or natural, or by whether the feeling is fear or revulsion. They are defined by whether they cause you a problem. And your aversion to dogs is causing you a problem now and (given the widespread presence of dogs in human society) going to cause you more problems in the future. You are absolutely entitled to your aversion. But wouldn't it be so much more convenient if it were toned down a little?

As in, you can continue to think dogs are stupid, gross and pointless. That they smell bad. That they shed on the furniture. That their barks are irritating. Whatever. I mean, I think all these things about other people's dogs. But learning to ratchet down your aversion a few notches is not about changing your mind, it's about scaling down the emotions attached to these thoughts. Like, maybe you think black furniture is tacky, and you cope with your aversion by not buying black furniture and by harbouring a condescending attitude towards those who do.

If your aversion to black furniture meant that you quit your job when they redecorated, or that you had to check to see if your friends had black furniture before visiting them, or that you were at constant risk of vomiting when in a furniture store... that's when you'd have a problem. Not wanting black furniture in your life is not in itself a problem.

Examples of perfectly normal aversions include claustrophobia, fear of heights and fears of snakes and spiders. Most of us are claustrophobic and afraid of heights to one degree or another *because it's completely normal.* But people still consult therapists when their claustrophobia is so severe that they can't take an elevator, or when they are so afraid of heights that they can't look out a window or cross a bridge. Normal or not, their aversions are putting a nasty cramp in their style.
posted by kika at 7:53 PM on May 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the thread, but let me just echo what everyone else has said about not using sprays or ultrasonic devices. In the first place I can hear those ultrasonic things and they give me a headache even in short bursts and the sprays smell -- at least if the humans in the office have anything like a decent sense of smell.

But more to the point, as everyone else has said, it's unethical to use those methods on someone else's dog -- far more unethical than fibbing about an allergy, which you also shouldn't do. Talk to your bosses. This isn't new advice, but I will add: If you hated teenagers (and who doesn't, really?) and the boss had his kid around, would you buy one of these? And if you did, would you expect to be fired?

If that seems an insane comparison to you, I assure you it would not seem so to your bosses.
posted by The Bellman at 7:57 PM on May 3, 2007


tkchrist, I think that you're being unreasonable and failing to read the question in full

Really?

*AHEM* The owner of the fashion boutique I work for brings her little dog with her everyday too.
posted by tkchrist at 8:04 PM on May 3, 2007


I see disgusting, foul beast that eats its own shit trying to tongue-fuck my mouth. ARGH.

And this is not irrational how?

Substitute any noun for "dog". And that spells crazy.
posted by tkchrist at 8:07 PM on May 3, 2007


It's time for you to apply to law school and move on from your legal secretary life.
posted by kellygreen at 8:18 PM on May 3, 2007


Thanks a million to everyone who's been sympathetic and even just reasonable, dog lovers included.

And to whoever implied that people who don't like/enjoy the company of dogs are untrustworthy and shady, and that dogs are somehow universal reps of truth love and social justice- well, my fear of dogs is (as I have acknowledged) irrational, but you are just fucking stupid.
posted by skjønn at 9:08 PM on May 3, 2007


Also tkchrist, I work for you, so stop taking this so personally. And I wasn't asked about dogs in either interview. Sheesh.
posted by skjønn at 9:10 PM on May 3, 2007


err I don't work for you that is
posted by skjønn at 9:10 PM on May 3, 2007


Apparently office dogs loathe airzooka (via).
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:36 PM on May 3, 2007


And to whoever implied that people who don't like/enjoy the company of dogs are untrustworthy and shady, and that dogs are somehow universal reps of truth love and social justice- well, my fear of dogs is (as I have acknowledged) irrational, but you are just fucking stupid.

skjønn, you're setting up a ridiculous dichotomy here.

Seeing dog owners (and the fashion boutique owner does this) french kiss their little beasts and lick all over eachothers faces makes me want to crumble into dust and I refuse to believe I am a freak for feeling this way.

That is creepy and disgusting. But that's not what you started out saying:

Their smell, the touch of their fur, the way they rub up against my leg, its enough to make me puke (and actually has made me do so more than once).

That's not just irrational; it's phobic. Be a grown-up and deal with it — not by sneaking around with bitter apple or sonic snappers or whatever. Avail yourself of some of the excellent arguments above and draw some lines with your bosses, or quit.

And realize that your response to dogs is not normal. Deal with that fact -- or not, as you wish.
posted by vetiver at 11:33 PM on May 3, 2007


skjønn,

I'm trying to give you insight to how your employers may feel. It may not seem fair to you but they don't own you anything is this regard. Even if you did not anticipate a dog arriving in the work place. How can an employer anticipate your phobias?

Especially if you are not honest with them.

That some here endorsed faking an illness so you can manipulate your employers—or—using an irritant to frighten the dog away; These things should not even be contemplated by an ethical person. I think it vile.

Say you were super reactionary to the color periwinkle. I dunno, maybe your mom was run over by a periwinkle moving van when you were five. And this left you with a strong dislike - a phobia if you will - of periwinkle.

Let's then say you get a job at a company you love only to learn later the Logo is to be changed to periwinkle and the rooms painted periwinkle. Your boss just loves periwinkle.
BUT. You don't tell him about your aversion to periwinkle until the deed is done.

I'd say the problem is yours' Not the company's. Especially if you don't tell him.

Regardless of the seizures it may cause you when you see it you cannot impose a periwinkle-less world on the rest of humanity. At some point you have to deal with periwinkle.

We are living in a time when a vocal minority can impose absurd restrictions on the majority becuase of their fears and dislikes. Nobody believes THEY are being a freak.

And little by little we have indulged in this believing we are being kind and good. Yet lo eventually we wake up to a world that caters to pettiness and is bland, flavorless, sterile and safe.

Instead don't you think it fair to ask people with these "hatreds" to examine their own reactions and emotions FIRST before asking others to change to suit them. Maybe we can all find a happy middle ground.

Wouldn't that be a much nicer world?
posted by tkchrist at 1:43 AM on May 4, 2007


Skjonn Writes: And to whoever implied that people who don't like/enjoy the company of dogs are untrustworthy and shady,

Nice try, girly; but I've read this thread fairly thoroughly and I don't believe anyone said that.

What we said was, someone who is so unable to be forthright about her feelings that she wants to sneak noxious chemicals and pain-inducing devices into her office is untrustworthy and shady. You talk about integrity, but I don't see any here.

You've been asked point blank at least once why honesty is not an option, and have not responded to that very important question. You asked your question. You have your answers. Take it or leave it. Either way I'm glad I don't have to work with you since you sound like you have a LOT of growing up to do, even for a 23-year-old. Good luck with that.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 5:03 AM on May 4, 2007


BigLankyBastard, in skjønn's defense, someone did say that. The comment and directly related responses appear to have been removed.
posted by ml98tu at 5:35 AM on May 4, 2007


You have two sorts here: dog people and not dog people.

Really go back and substitute GIANT RAT or COCKROACH in the question, and you might be able to relate (I personally love dogs.)

There are a certain amount of irrational pet people who can't understand that you don't like fido. They will think you're crazy. Rational discussion won't work.

If you're going to approach them, yup, lie about allergies. Just lay it down, that you grew up not liking dogs much, and not being able to have pets aside from fish, because dogs they caused you to have an allergic reaction that included vomiting. You were hired and not told of this, and you're not sure what to do - you really like the person, and you wish you'd liked dogs more, but it's causing you stress, due to the reactions you're having. You're not minimizing "real allergies."

If this were rats, bugs or something that others had a major reaction to, there'd be no debate here on metafilter. But because it's a doggie, everyone freaks.
posted by filmgeek at 6:00 AM on May 4, 2007


If this were rats, bugs or something that others had a major reaction to, there'd be no debate here on metafilter.

That's a false analogy. Better to compare it to someone who adopts a snake, which although uncommon is a pet for some people, and which many people have strong reactions against.

Anyhow, if I were working somewhere and the boss started bringing in a pet [fill-in-the-blank] that I could not stand, I would talk to the boss about it, honestly. I wouldn't lie about it.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:29 AM on May 4, 2007


Filmgeek, you are missing the key element here: Yes, people don't tend to like cockroaches and rats. This is because they are VERMIN and have a long and storied association with plagues, filth, disease, and death. Even with that historical and cultural burden, the vast majority of humans will not actually have the urge to vomit upon coming into contact with them. Those that do, are likely more violently phobic than the rest of us. There's nothing wrong with hating rats and roaches. Indeed, those that don't are likely to be looked upon as a wee bit odd. And you know what? This is Metafilter, where being odd is not only accepted but encouraged, so I'd bet a considerable sum that at least one person following this thread keeps roaches as pets.

Dogs, on the other hand, are almost universally (in western culture) understood to be mostly benign trainable playful and helpful companions. They are still animals, which is something even most dog lovers understand. It's not even considered really odd to not like dogs. I remember a time when I did not care to be around dogs. Since then I have helped raise a chocolate lab from a puppy, and now consider labs and most other dog breeds to be a special gift for the upliftment of mankind. I am intimately aware that not everyone feels this way.

Now, I run my own business, which takes me into people's homes pretty much every day. Many of these homes have dogs in them, which I love. I like meeting and greeting new dogs. However, almost ALL of these dog people are very sensitive to the fact that visitors to their homes may not want to interact with their rambunctious little or big pet, and will take great pains to keep the dog away from me out of common courtesey. I almost always have to emphasise repeatedly that I love their dog, and that he/she doesn't bother me, before they will stop restraining/confining my new friend and let him come over and say hello.

I tell this story to illustrate how GOOD dog owners (in my extensive experience) will be sensitive to the needs of someone who enters their home, even as hired help, and encounters their dog. If I were to say to any of these people at any point "Hey, your dog is making me uncomfortable..." the pooch would almost always be instantly called away or or otherwise confined by a very apologetic owner. The idea that all dog owners think that people who don't like dogs are freaks or otherwise bad people is frankly absurd.

This thread is not about how hating dogs is odd and odd is wrong. Skjonn's issue is not that she doesn't like dogs. Throwing up when a dog touches you is way, way, beyond "I don't like dogs." Skjonn's problem isn't even that Dogs make her sick (though her life would be much improved if she would try to address this almost-certainly-medical-level problem). Skjonn's problem is that she doesn't feel that honesty is a valid option.

This thread is about how a little honesty will go a long way, and that even the most absurdly intimate and silly dog lovers understand the need to keep their dogs away from those who don't care for dogs. If you can't understand the value of honesty in human relationships, and work so hard to misunderstand those who try to emphasise this truth, you are not destined for success in human society.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:36 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


skjønn: You said earlier that you didn't want to lie and weren't a good liar. That was in reference to pretending to have an allergy.

Does also mean that you can't simply follow the advice of many people in this thread and tell your bosses that dogs make you feel uncomfortable and always have and always will (without going into how you are "grossed out" by them) and ask them to work with you to find a way to limit your exposure to the dogs? If you've addressed this point, I've missed it.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:54 AM on May 4, 2007


Since your office has a door, couldn't you explain that you're uncomfortable around dogs and to solve the problem say that you're going to start leaving the door closed?

Unless if you wire up some super-secret button, eventually your ultrasonic solution will get discovered.
posted by drezdn at 7:05 AM on May 4, 2007


If this were rats, bugs or something that others had a major reaction to, there'd be no debate here on metafilter. But because it's a doggie, everyone freaks.

I totally agree. If it was pet rats (and I've seen people walking around with pet rats on their shoulders), there would be different reactions, and suddenly even though the behavior was the same, a lot more people would be sick at the teeth licking behaviors.

The "omgdisease!" explanation falls flat for me because I've seen more contemporary stories and heard from more people about folks being bitten & mauled or killed by dogs than I have seen about rats.

While indeed correct, I think the "if it's cramping your style" definition of mental illness sucks. Two people could have the exact same problem, but it only meets criteria if there are triggers in your life. That just has never sat well with me. But skjønn, if you do decide to stay around the pet rats, therapy may be your only hope of a productive stay.

Judging from all the pet owner replies, I think you can see what you're up against if you try to tell them you'd like to work and not play with their pet rats. I'd find a different job, then in the exit interview or after they've provided you references, let them know why you left, just so they make it clear in their job ad to fill your position, and don't put the next unsuspecting soul through this.
posted by cashman at 7:24 AM on May 4, 2007


* You are unwilling to directly address an issue that affects your work performance by speaking clearly to your bosses about it.
* You have an exceptional and unusual reaction to a fairly common workplace scenario, extreme enough that you anticipated people would suggest therapy.
* You are unwilling to consider therapy even though it could likely help bring your extreme reaction into the range of functional normalcy.
* You're pursuing surreptitious remedies which could potentially antagonize your employers.

The problem here has nothing to do with dogs.
posted by anildash at 8:03 AM on May 4, 2007 [5 favorites]


The asker has said she will not do anything to hurt the dogs, so if she planned to use an ultrasonic device, it was clearly in ignorance of the discomfort it might cause the dogs throughout the workplace(s).

Yes, clearly in ignorance, after being advised against it, and apparently without bothering to do any research as to whether or not what she was doing was smart. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't be bringing in random aversive frequency-emitting gadgets without having a good idea what they do.

I think that if she can't bring herself to talk to the owners, yeah, find a new job. And grow up.

You could substitute almost anything for "dog" in this situation, and get the same result.

[thing-in-office] boss brings in, and is fond of.
This bothers her.

She can:
a) concoct her own solutions which may be potentially hazardous to her employment and ineffective to boot

or

b) talk to her bosses about it.

Even if they do nothing - she's at least cow-girled up and acted like a grownup.

My boss had a lavender-scented rock garden on the table we had our weekly chats at. It gave me a nasty headache. I told her what was up, we moved it, problem solved.

On preview: anildash has it.
posted by canine epigram at 8:09 AM on May 4, 2007


Can I just say that I absolutely detest people who claim they have an allergy to something, and then clearly don't? It makes life for people who do actually have allergies that much tougher. Don't be that person.


Yes, PLEASE don't be that person. People have such a dim understanding of allergies anyway that this irks me to no end - I have many allergies and this kind of behavior from the non-allergic doesn't help people get it.
posted by agregoli at 8:12 AM on May 4, 2007


Since you do have an office with a door, the logical solution seems to be blocking the dog out of it. Maybe you could ask the boss about getting one of those doors that open separately on the top and bottom, so you could leave the top part open and still feel connected to the office. More practically, I think a baby gate would work fine unless the dogs are quite large. Either solution still requires that you first have a quick chat with your boss though, just to clarify that it's not their little love-muffin that bothers you, just dogs in general. I'm still quite interested to hear why you don't seem to think that's an option.
posted by vytae at 8:18 AM on May 4, 2007


I have largely lost interest in this trainwreck as the original posters continued ignoring of suggestions that she just talk to her employers rationally about her issues reminds me of a close friend (who, amusingly, also has an aversion to dogs but manages to simply be frank about that matter) who likes to mock such behavior by saying "I don't like that advice. Do you have any other advice?"

I will simply point out that every single person in this thread who has suggested various fabrications about allergies or other falsehoods has done it with the justification of how irrational and unapproachable some/all pet owners are. I suggest to you that it is foolish and counter-productive - both individually and as a society - to pre-suppose irrational or unreasonable behavior and therefor engage in irrational, unreasonable, or deceptive behavior.

If you choose to behave with subterfuge and deception as a way of coping with challenges then I say this to you with almost total certainty: The end result is you're going to find yourself in jobs and relationships that are filled with that kind of behavior, both your own and those around you. If you have ever thought to yourself something like "man, those two really deserve each other, they're both sneaky and backbiting" then you have noticed the fact that civilized people, when they have the choice (and your employers always will), choose not to deal with cruddy people, leaving the ill-behaved with no choice but to spend their time with other cruddy people.

The best overall strategy in life for not having to deal with such things is not to do them yourself. The occasional failure or setback you suffer for doing the right thing is more than offset by the strides you will make all the other times.
posted by phearlez at 8:32 AM on May 4, 2007 [3 favorites]


Thanks tkchrist, I did consider what you said.

Wow, thanks for all the advice telling me I need to grow up. I posted in the hope of finding practical solutions that would not harm either doggie.

If you (IE biglankybastard and others) had actually read the damn thread, you would have seen that I did end up rejecting using the ultrasonic deice after considering it further.

And yes, it was insinuated (although it seems to have been deleted) that I and everyone else who hates dogs was shady, if not sociopathic.

As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react (an opinion only further confirmed by a few people who have posted). If this was a problem that could be solved with an honest 5 minute chat, I would not have posted a question here.

Right now I'm just looking for (and have been majorly helped by) more suggestions about body language or other ways to keep the dogs at a distance.

So, if you feel the burning desire to tell me how much I need to grow up and mature and what a sick sadistic bitch I am etc. take it to email or something.
posted by skjønn at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2007


Rereading this, it appears a bunch of replies were deleted. Anyway, thanks to everyone who has offered practical solutions.
posted by skjønn at 9:08 AM on May 4, 2007


As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react (an opinion only further confirmed by a few people who have posted).

Emphasis mine.

Sometimes people surprise you. You can't say that you've explored all the options unless you've tried talking to them.
And you haven't. You've made up your mind that talking to them won't do any good - so you decide not to do it. Despite the fact that you can't confirm your suspicion without at least trying.

Like many of us have said, including me - if they then make it clear that they're not willing to accomodate you, that tells you what you need to know.

Assuming you know how someone will react, and thence not raising a very real problem with them because of it, is not an adult way of acting.

Now, if you'd written, "I've tried to ask them to keep the dogs away from me, and they told me to stop being such a baby," I'd guarantee you that you'd have gotten a vastly different response.
posted by canine epigram at 9:15 AM on May 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react (an opinion only further confirmed by a few people who have posted).

Emphasis mine.

Note that actual dog-owners and biglankybastard, however, contradict your hypothesis. I know you don’t like biglankybastard, but he actually has data to work from: meeting lots of dog owners.

Given contradictory inputs (dog-lovers are irrational and nuts; dog-lovers are sensitive and accomodating to the dog-uncomfortable) you really have to test your hypothesis. As in, at least try talking to your bosses.

“Now, if you'd written, "I've tried to ask them to keep the dogs away from me, and they told me to stop being such a baby," I'd guarantee you that you'd have gotten a vastly different response.”
posted by kika at 9:24 AM on May 4, 2007


As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react (an opinion only further confirmed by a few people who have posted).

I think that if you approached your bosses in a diplomatic, respectful, and professional manner -- unlike the tone you use in this thread -- your bosses might surprise you. I realize that your post is, in some ways, venting and that you are using language you would not use to your bosses. Perhaps many of the posters here are responding as much to your tone as to your concerns. Your boss, however, if approached in a different manner, should also respond in a professional way.
posted by Robert Angelo at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2007


If a ton of people are all telling you the same thing, maybe there's a kernel of truth to it.

There are 91 (95 on prev.) comments in this thread, and many of them offer advice that you have chosen to not heed. That's totally your call, but don't get mad at people for it. Since that is your decision, I would suggest at least telling your bosses what you are doing, since as skwhirls said, your training could interfere with that of your bosses. Furthermore, you think you know how your bosses are going to react, but you don't actually know. They deserve some sort of heads-up because they will figure it out later on and are really going to wonder why you didn't say anything. (on preview, canine epigram)

I have found that most dog owners are accommodating when they see I have a problem with dogs. I've only had a few people try to tell me that Snookums is perfect and I make it very clear to those people that it's not about Snookums, it's about me and my history with dogs. The people that think I'm a freak are the ones that find out I don't like dogs when it comes up in conversation. However, over time they realize that that's just part of who I am. My old boss was a dog fanatic and I think she thought I was cold-hearted because I didn't like dogs, but she was respectful about it and when a co-worker brought a dog to the office, she made sure he was kept a distance from me.

I urge you to at least let them know, they deserve the chance to know and attempt to accommodate you.
posted by ml98tu at 9:43 AM on May 4, 2007


I have found that most dog owners are accommodating when they see I have a problem with dogs. I've only had a few people try to tell me that Snookums is perfect and I make it very clear to those people that it's not about Snookums, it's about me and my history with dogs.

Yes, yes, and yes again.

Look, my parents are the types of dog owners you hate -- the dogs go everywhere with them, they're part of the family, when they owned their own business (an art gallery), the dogs were there day in and day out. Additionally, whenever anyone came into the gallery who showed or expressed any discomfort with the dogs, my parents removed them to the back room cheerfully and immediately.

simply put, skjønn: you do not know how the owners will react. You have made an assumption, and then proceeded from that assumption -- faulty as it may be! -- as if it is the truth. Speaking as someone who used to do this a lot myself, I can tell you that is a method of behaving that will cause infinitely more troubles than it will solve, both in your workplace and in your personal life. Just a word to the wise.

Finally, it's worth noting that significant phobias such as this (and while IANAD, as others have pointed out, vomiting when you have to touch a dog is well into phobia territory) are considered anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), meaning that you would have a legal basis to ask for reasonable accommodation.

The catch is, of course, that this would involve having actual conversations with a therapist and your bosses. I realize at this point that you are unlikely to take this advice, skjønn, but I'm just putting it out there in the event that you might one day be more open to the full range of practical solutions that really do exist.
posted by scody at 9:56 AM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


If your reaction is as strong as you say, odds are your bosses have already noticed. Sure you try to hide it, but honestly, it is pretty simple to see this kind of thing.

And to quote it one more time :) - As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react

Take it as a challenge. Presented in the right way, and at the right time, there is bound to be a way to approach this issue that will result in an amicable solution. After all, it is in your mutual interests to be reasonable people about this.

First, assume they already know. It will put you into a more constructive state of mind. Start scripting it in your head: "I'm not sure if you have noticed or not, but I really get distracted by dogs. I've been trying hard to work past it, but it is taking away from my work." Don't just stop there, keep thinking about low impact, off hand ways of letting them know. How can you make it as casual and not a big deal as possible. Then, one day when it seems like they must have noticed, because it would take an idiot not to see the stress written all over your face, you can try out one of the lines you've been preparing.


All that said, I come back to my earlier point. If you have been hiding your fear, and you can even touch one of the dogs, you really are half way to getting over this phobia.
posted by Chuckles at 10:36 AM on May 4, 2007


As for why not just have a heart to heart, I've already said it's not an option due to how I think both dog owners would react (an opinion only further confirmed by a few people who have posted). If this was a problem that could be solved with an honest 5 minute chat, I would not have posted a question here.

Sorry, but this is not really a very good reason. It is, however, a good example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They're your bosses -- how are you going to ever ask for a raise or get through a performance review or discuss your job responsibilities if you can't muster up the will to discuss an aspect of the office that is making you sick in a professional manner? If your boss came over to your desk with a lighted cigarette and blew smoke in your face, wouldn't you be able to say, "um, it's your company, but could you kinda keep the smoking more in your office?"
posted by desuetude at 12:43 PM on May 4, 2007


Er, itals on the quote above.
posted by desuetude at 12:44 PM on May 4, 2007


skjønn: ... take it to email or something.

Except, your email address isn't set to "display to other members" in your preferences.

I was going to drop you a line (for something productive, not name-calling). My address is in my profile, if you're so inclined.
posted by CKmtl at 1:34 PM on May 4, 2007


If it's OK to bring pets to the office, I suggest getting yourself a beautiful 10-foot Burmese Python. They're wonderful pets, low maintenance and quite affectionate. At least 25% of the mammal population in your office will be consumed with fear when they see it (based on my empirical observations as a snake owner). As others pointed out upthread, if people have some weird phobia and can't deal with your pet, that's their problem.
posted by mullingitover at 3:35 PM on May 4, 2007


Threads where the Best Answer goes to the 1 person in 100 who agrees with the asker are proof that the question wasn't asked in good faith anyway. But please do let us know what results your course of action produces.
posted by anildash at 10:54 PM on May 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


I tend to agree with anildash, but naturally I wish you the best of luck.

Admittedly, I'm not sure I would've gone with "let 'er rip, just start barfing in the middle of the workplace" as the most mature or best answer, but that's me. Seems an incredibly short-sighted solution to a problem that will probably come up again later in life. Unless you really want to earn the nickname "Vomit Girl" & put more importance on your phobia than on learning how to use good communication in the workplace, I'd think there might be better approaches.

Seriously, dog people are generally VERY understanding of people who are genuinely fearful of dogs. The thing is, and I may be totally wrong here, but I'm getting the impression that you are less genuinely fearful than stubbornly addicted to the drama of hating these creatures. I'm not being judgey & talking out of my ass here, because as I said, being a former cat loather, there but by the grace of God go I. I'm just VERY glad the route I chose to deal with my problems didn't involve barfing in public, that instead I actually tried to find a way to fix the problem within myself so that I could live a happier future.

You can't control the world, you can't control other people, you can't control animals. All you can control is how you react & respond to them.

YMMV. As always.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:52 AM on May 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


So what'd you end up doing?
posted by cashman at 6:28 AM on May 29, 2007


« Older A different kind of fencepost problem   |   My boyfriend is about to go off the deep end. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.