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The Pig Perk

You know what’s wrong with your job?

No ostriches.

It’s true! How can you possibly be happy in your work if you don’t have an ostrich in your workplace.

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Or a pig. Or a parakeet. Or a ferret. Or any of the other animal friends that I recently read about in

“The Office Pet is a Pig. No, Really,” a Rachel Feintzeig column in The Wall Street Journal.

“Dog-friendly offices have employees barking for more exotic companions,” Feintzeig writes. This may be news to you. At your job, people are barking for more human beings, to replace the feral predators who roam the halls. But at other companies, when it comes to bringing pets to work, it’s a veritable Noah’s Ark.

For a particularly disturbing example, meet Stunner, a 73-pound pig who “can be found basking in a sunny corner or the conference room during meetings at Saratoga Springs, N.Y., marketing agency Fingerpaint Inc.”

While management positions Stunner as a psychological boost for employees, I suspect the real purpose of the pig in question is to act as a brand differentiator. After all, how many marketing agencies in Saratoga Springs have an office pig? Not more than a dozen, I’d guess. And while CEO and founder Ed Mitzen may be showing his casual management style when he says “Stunner’s oinks, squeals and snores enliven the open-plan office,” I’m not sure that I believe him. After all, no one you’ve ever worked for, or with, has felt enlivened by your oinks, squeals and snores.

Another interesting office pet is Java, a brown and green python. Yes, a python – as in big, scary snake.

In Seattle, Amazon.com employee Adam Park carries Java to work “in a bright green Amazon Fresh bag, the same kind used in the company’s grocery delivery service.” This is probably better than the traditional fakir’s woven basket, but if you are an Amazon Fresh customer, I might suggest you be very careful when opening your next shipment of non-GMO rutabagas.

You probably will not be surprised to learn that not every Amazon employee is infatuated with Java. One engineer “just about jumped out of his own skin when the owner quietly approached him with his scary friend.”

I don’t know about you, but I call that engineer a real spoilsport. If you can’t sneak up behind someone at work with a python wrapped around your arm, why come to work at all!

Java, the snake, also attends meetings with Adam, the human, though he recently “wrapped himself tightly around the arm of Mr. Park’s chair” and “wouldn’t let go.” I don’t know what goes on in meetings at Amazon, but if even a snake is so bored it tries to strangle an Aeron chair, I can’t imagine the human attendees are enjoying themselves all that much.

Fortunately, Park was able to wheel the chair, and the snake, out of the conference room and into an elevator where “some Amazon workers were startled to discover they were riding an elevator with more than just a piece of office furniture.”

Sounds like a fun atmosphere at Amazon HQ. If I worked there, I’d want to make it even more fun by bringing in Dos 2.0. That’s the name of my pet mongoose.

According to a survey conducted in 2015 by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 8 percent of U.S. companies allow pets at work. The practice is especially prevalent among tech firms. This makes sense. These companies want employees to think “out of the box,” even if it takes a litter box to make it happen.

But it’s not only tech firms that are pet-friendly. “At one Midwest wealth-management firm, employees gathered in the office of an adviser each week to watch him feed live goldfish to his three piranhas.”

Frankly, this level of blood lust seems a little lame compared to the behavior we’ve seen in recent years from the financial service industry, but there is a valuable lesson to be learned.

If you want to succeed, bring in a pet cheetah and feed it kittens. After which, your cheetah can eat up all the pigs, snakes and other namby-pamby animals that are clogging up your workplace. You could apologize later, but the havoc you would cause would also clear out the oversensitive pet lovers who are standing between you and promotion.

It’s like I always say, if you want to get ahead at work, there’s only one thing better than bringing a snake. That’s being a snake.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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