Workplace Pet: Hugo

Hugo the black lab plays a starring role within this PR firm, Emma van Nieuwenhuijzen introduces UMi to her workplace pet. 

What does your company do?

Shooting Star is a PR, marketing and digital agency based in the historic city of Lincoln. We work with a range of exciting clients across a variety of sectors including hospitality, sports, property, professional and public services.  Every day is different as we support clients with events, social media, award submissions, copywriting, proofreading, crisis communications, training and securing press coverage.

And introduce us to your workplace pet… What’s their name, and what kind of pet are they?

Hugo (aka Hugo Bear or Hugo Boss) is an eight-year-old black Labrador. Hugo is a rescue dog and found his forever home at age four with his human Emma. He is very calm and very cuddly – he loves spending time with people and making them laugh by rolling on his back and pulling faces for attention. Hugo is also rarely seen without his Pig – best friend and security blanket. He will often bring Pig to the office, take him on walks and use him as a naptime pillow so no one steals him.  Hugo never loses Pig and only gently squeaks him on special occasions.

How did they become your workplace pet?

Hugo’s human started at Shooting Star last year and brought Hugo into the office once or twice during the summer. The team have fallen in love with him and are now disappointed if he doesn’t visit the office at least once or twice a week – it’s important he pops in to catch up on Shooting Star priorities and fill us in on his work on the ground; he hate’s missing out on team meetings especially as they usually include cake!

What’s it like having an animal around the place?

Hugo never lets the team know when he’s due to make an appearance (he likes to keep them on their toes) but as soon as he wiggles through the door with a big smile on his face, he never fails to lift everyone’s mood. He makes a stop at everyone’s desk to say hello before finding a quiet corner or patch of sunlight to sleep the day away.

Every so often Hugo does the rounds to make sure everyone is OK, nudging elbows for a stroke or hoovering up escaped crumbs. In the afternoon he will roll on his back, stick his legs in the air and pull a silly face – that’s when we know it’s time for an afternoon cuppa.

What made you decide to bring pets into your workplace?

The entire team at the office are pro-dogs, many of them are dog owners themselves and have bought their own pets to the office in the past. Hugo is such a charmer that he managed to wiggle his way into the team and was too lazy to move. Hugo fits right in at Shooting Star and has helped to create a happy place to work.

Does it have an effect on stress, and on how the whole team works together?

Having pets in the office certainly creates a calming atmosphere. The Shooting Star team are a close-knit work family anyway, but Hugo is the cherry on our cake and brings everyone together over shared giggles, cuddles and of course the weekly bacon baps!

Having Hugo around encourages the team to take a break from their screens and allows the mind a few minutes’ rest. He also has unusually soft fur which is good stress-busting therapy!

Any unexpected benefits? Or, indeed, pitfalls?

Hugo has a starring role on the Shooting Star social media pages and so clients have started to recognise him and strike up conversations outside of work – it’s great to communicate with clients on a more personal level.

The only pitfall is Hugo and his greedy guts! He only has to look at a biscuit and he puts on weight so the staff have to be careful about sharing their lunch with him. We try to limit the dog treats to apple cores and Dentastix.  

Who’s responsible for walking, feeding, cleaning… any of the ‘less popular’ jobs?

Hugo’s human Emma is responsible for the dog ‘chores’ such as walking, cleaning and poop-a-scooping but the whole office chips in on donating unwanted apple cores, leftover biscuits and sandwich crusts.

Ever find it a distraction?

Hugo is too calm and lazy to ever be a distraction and manages to sleep most of the day away –although he tries his best to encourage afternoon cuddles by making people laugh.

What would you tell other people who were reluctant to take in an office pet?

Workplace pets are not for everyone; they need to be well behaved so as to not put visiting clients off or be a distraction to the team – no one wants a yappy, overexcited pooch around while working – but you never know how pets will adjust to the office until you try! The pros certainly outweigh the cons and make for a happy working environment.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Hugo is a rescue dog and we do not know his background or what happened to him and sometimes he can be unsure, but we are always patient, loving, understanding and firm when we need to be. Having a dog is a big responsibility and having a rescue dog can be even more so but it is incredibly rewarding – the entire Shooting Star team have done a great job in welcoming Hugo to the team and we cannot imagine working life without him.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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