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Pet Projects

Cats and dogs and babies, oh my! It's just another day at the office for these entrepreneurs.
November 1, 2004
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/73114

Remember back in the 1990s when every dot-com insisted they were cool because, on top of stock options and casual dress codes, employees could bring dogs to work? Now that most of those companies have gone to the dogs, we thought we'd see if dogs (and related life-forms) really do improve the quality of life at the office.

Company:Hilary Kaye Associates, a PR firm in Tustin, California, with sales of just less than $1 million a year
Number of employees: 6
Number of cats: 4
Cat perks: The four office cats are adopted, but employees' cats are welcome, too.
Pros: "There's always a little, fuzzy, warm animal to talk or play with, regardless of how stressful the day is," says Hilary Kaye, 54. "We try to keep them out of the office when clients are here, but they've all seemed to think it's great. Cats represent a little piece of humanity, and people appreciate that. I think it also makes us more creative."
Cons: "On weekends, I have to come in and feed them. It's a big responsibility."
Memorable moment: "One of our cats recently had a kitten, and one of our employees took [it] home. That same week, her 12-year-old cat died," says Kaye. Seems like it was meant to be.

Company:Small Dog Electronics, a $25 million Waitsfield, Vermont, reseller of Macintosh computers, peripherals and software
Number of employees: 25
Number of dogs: 4 to 16
Dog perks: company-paid pet health insurance for up to two dogs
Pros: "Dogs are incredible stress relievers," says CEO Don Mayer, 55. "They wander from desk to desk for a scratch on the head. The dogs get some love, and the employees get a short break."
Cons: "When one dog barks, they all seem to bark."
Memorable moment: "I had a [small] dog that spent most of the day on my desk and was somewhat protective of me. One day, I had a banker from whom I was trying to get a loan visit. She was looking at my computer, and the dog bit her. I didn't get the loan."

Company:T3, a marketing think tank in Austin, Texas, with $115 million in capitalized billings
Number of employees: 138
Number of babies: Three, at the moment. But 18 babies have spent their earliest months (until they can walk) here, and the company has had as many as four babies at one time. In addition, at least 10 dogs come to the office with their owners each day.
Baby perks: a well-stocked nursery with toys and blankets
Pros: "It's a great thing for a child not to be separated from [his or her] parent," says Gay Warren Gaddis, 48, founder, president and CEO of T3. "And for the parent, you're more free to get back into the work environment when you know your baby is nearby and OK."
Cons: "We've had a couple of babies who were big criers, and there was some concern about the noise, but it hasn't been anything we couldn't handle."
Memorable moment: "We had a mom giving a PowerPoint presentation with the baby strapped on her, and we could see the baby making faces and spitting up. We were all laughing, and it was hard to concentrate on what was going on."