I've made the pilgrimage to Mecca..er St Louis this week for meetings at the Purina Corporate Headquarters. It's nice to see lots of old friends, but I've got to tell you, the weather here stinks.
I'm getting to be quite Southwestern sun worshiping snob when it comes to weather. My wife Chris and I were hiking in a beautiful wilderness canyon on Sunday with temperatures in the high 60s. When I hit town here yesterday it was one of those gray, windy days with something in-between rain and sleet falling from the sky. Today it's snowing and blowing.
Actually St Louis is a nice town and you can count on at least two good weather months out of twelve. It's hard to beat April and October, especially if the Cardinals are still playing baseball in October.
OK, seriously now, there are a lot of things I miss about St Louis. At the top of the list would be the intellectual stimulation and camaraderie found here at the office. While it's nice to fall out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and hit my home office in robe and slippers in a matter of minutes, I do miss interacting with my co-workers.
I miss all the dogs, too. That's right, the dogs.
At Purina everyone is allowed to bring their dogs to work. Every day if they feel like it. Today on my old floor there are four people with pooches in tow and there would be more but some people are on the road. In the spacious park behind the building there are "mutt mitt" dispensers everywhere and if the weather wasn't so bad I'd go out a take some photos of canine co-workers on potty break.
My friend in market research, Mary Curry, brings Betsy the Boston Terrier to work every single day of the week. She confided to me that bringing Betsy to work was her favorite job perk on a par with benefits like health care. She feels more productive and better able to focus on work with Betsy sitting on her lap as opposed to doing whatever at home by herself.
There's peace of mind for Mary and Betsy and just plain fun for Swissy the Bernese Mountain Dog and her mom, Leigh Crowder, in consumer affairs. Leigh started bringing Swissy in to work at 8 weeks of age to help with socialization, an important aspect of raising any of the herding breeds.
Swissy has an interesting portable fence that extends from Leigh's cube to her neighbor Linda's cubicle. She can go back and forth for visits. She sleeps at Leigh's feet and when she feels like it she heads over to Linda's to score a treat. Linda is obviously happy with this dog sharing arrangement, too.
You would think that a pet food company would attract lots of pet lovers and that's certainly true here at Purina HQ. Nobody seems to mind the occasional bark and everybody seems to really enjoy sharing the office with pets. After all, successful companies stay close to their customers, and here at Purina you can't get much closer than the office next door.