Dear Dr. Forsythe: I recently interviewed for a position at a local business near Sonoma (I won’t say which one) and went through a situation I wanted to ask you about. The person who interviewed me (I’ll call her Miranda Priestly) had her little dog with her in the office. I think it was a little terrier of some sort: small, black and white, with coarse hair. All during the interview, this little dog kept sniffing my feet and stepping on my shoes. A couple times he even jumped up a little and scratched my hose. I tried to laugh it off, but inside I was very uncomfortable not wanting to push the little dog away or say anything that would hurt my chances for the job. I answered the interview questions the best I could, and at the end of the interview, I went to shake the “Miranda’s” hand and then bent down to pet her dog. As I reached down, the dog quickly snapped at me and bit me on my wrist. My instincts took over, and I lightly swatted her pet away. I expected Miranda to ask if I was OK and help me with my bite wound. Instead, she scolded me for hitting her dog and said I should leave “quickly”. Dr. Forsythe, what are your thoughts are on a situation like this?. Wasn’t that woman in the wrong when her dog bit me? Needless to say, I didn’t get the job, much less an apology. I left in tears with a dented ego and a painful wrist. I’m just wondering why people keep pets at work, especially little dogs that bite people.
Dear Kalinda: First let me tell you how sorry I am that you went through what sounds like a difficult interview only to end up being bitten and then shoved out the door like a bumblebee at a children’s birthday party. Dogs have become much more common in the workplace over the last few years, and many people actually negotiate their employment contracts to allow them to have their pet at work with them. Many social studies show that offices that have animals tend to be happier and more productive. However, it sounds like this place where you interviewed was the exception. If Ms. “Priestly” had a little flesh-hungry “Cujo” in the office that first intimidated, then distracted you from performing well during your interview, that is unfortunate and unprofessional. Then, once the pet attempted to remove your hand at the wrist, Miranda had an obligation (both legal and ethical) to tend to you and see that you were OK. I find it almost beyond comprehension that anyone in this day and age would be so careless to let their pet bite another person and then not even offer an apology, much less a band-aid to the bite victim. Perhaps Miranda was too taken aback by your reaction to the bite and brushing her “darling” little pet aside that she lost sense of proper decorum: When your pet chomps down on someone, take a moment to tend to them, show you care, apologize. I don’t think it sounds like a million girls would kill for that job. It’s probably more likely that a million girls were killed DOING that job. Be glad you’re away from that place, and I hope you will find a better job soon.
Dr. Vallard C. Forsythe