In Praise of Pets

Warren on the Quad. Image: Samuel McCutcheon

Warren on the Quad. Image: Samuel McCutcheon

Whether they purr, yip, chirp, bark, cluck or gurgle, for many people, pets are what make a house a home.

Thanks to Harvard Medical School’s dog-friendly work policy, some of our four-legged friends now punch the clock regularly along with their owners, providing companionship, stress relief and a reason to step away from the desk for a walk to refresh and restore.

The mutual benefits of having a dog in the office, studies have shown, extend beyond pet and owner, resulting in improved team morale, higher productivity, decreased absenteeism, a greater sense of work-life balance, and increased communication and socialization.

As April 11 is National Pet Day, founded by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige “to celebrate the joy pets bring to our lives,” MyHMS took the opportunity to profile some of the canine co-workers (and their humans) who enliven the labs and offices around the Quad.

Gordon, Maltipoo, age 6

Caroline Barnaby, marketing and communications manager, Center for Primary Care

Gordon and Caroline Barnaby
Caroline Barnaby and Gordon

“Gordon definitely helps to reduce stress. Having him around facilitates interactions with co-workers and guests—he’s a great conversation starter! Welcoming office pets is just one of the many ways HMS promotes a healthy work-life balance, and office dogs serve as a constant reminder that we should always make time to get outside during long work days, if only for a short walk.”

Murray, miniature schnauzer, age 9

Kevin Jiang, science writer/editor, Office of Communications


I think having Murray in the office brightens everyone’s day. He’s super charismatic and I’m pretty sure everyone likes him more than me.”

Willow, Shetland sheepdog, age 1

Pamela Needham, technical specialist and systems administrator, Information Technology Office

Pam Needham and Willow
Willow and Pamela Needham. Image: Beth Beighlie

“I so appreciate being able to bring Willow to work—it makes having a dog so much easier and makes being at work so much better. We enjoy the informal interactions with colleagues and students, exercise and stress relief for myself and others. Co-workers tell me I need to make Willow a calendar so they can check her availability. She makes people happy.”

Pippa, American Staffordshire terrier, age 4

Lauren Orefice, assistant professor of genetics, and Chris Harvey, associate professor of neurobiology


“Adopting Pippa from a local rescue group is one of the best decisions we have ever made. She is a part of our family, and now our laboratories too! Pippa loves visiting her lab mates, showing off her tricks and receiving lots of belly rubs and treats (especially sweet potatoes).”

Sadie, English cream golden retriever, age 3

Gina Vild, associate dean/chief communications officer, Office of Communications and External Relations


Sadie brings joy to the Quad and so enjoys being considered an honorary member of the OCER team.”

Juno, keeshond, age 8

Kevin Struhl, the David Wesley Gaiser Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


“I enjoy Juno’s company during the day and sharing her with my research lab and others.”

Bodhi, yellow Labrador/golden retriever mix, age 4

Jay Copeland, manager, Research Information Technology Solutions Image Management Core

Jay Copeland and Bodhi

“Bodhi and I are a certified therapy dog team. We volunteer at Countway Cuddles and Boston Children's Hospital. I feel lucky to be able to have Bodhi at work with me. He’s my ambassador and has expanded the range of people I get to meet and interact with here at HMS.”

Jackson, shepherd/polar bear/giraffe mix, age 2

Paul DiMattia, creative director, Office of Communications and External Relations

Jackson and Paul DiMattia
Jackson and Paul DiMattia

“Jackson is generally funnier than me, and he’s happy to keep my colleagues’ waste bins free of any unwanted food leftovers.”

Warren, yellow Labrador retriever, age 11

Ellen Adams, room and academic scheduling coordinator, Campus Planning Office

Warren. Image: Samuel McCutcheon

“Warren makes the office a positive and happy workplace. When he’s not here, people come looking for him. He provides stress relief for everyone in the suite.”

Dayton, muddle, age 11

Beth Beighlie, digital imaging specialist, Information Technology Office


“Dayton is a therapy dog at Boston Children's Hospital and the Countway Library. He recently recovered from a serious illness, in large part, I think, due to the therapeutic effects of so much love coming his way. He may be a therapy dog, but those who love him in the community were his therapy.”

Henry Vild and Bear Oriol, Bernese mountain dogs

Nancy Oriol, faculty associate dean for community engagement in medical education, Office of Student Affairs

Gina Vild, associate dean/chief communications officer, Office of Communications and External Relations

Henry and Bear
Former HMS employee Jay Shemenski, Henry, Nancy Oriol, Bear and Gina Vild

"Gina Vild’s Henry and Nancy Oriol’s Bear volunteered as therapy dogs for PME students at Harvard Medical School. Both Bernese Mountain Dogs were thrilled with their honorary pet-i-gree."

Tucker, mutt, age 8

Kate Hodgins, senior curriculum manager, Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology


“I can practically see the blood pressure of our students, staff and faculty fall when they come into our office, get on the floor and pat Tucker. His calm demeanor, silky fur and big beautiful doggy eyes have earned him a legion of fans.”

Images courtesy of the owners.

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