Top Dogs: Execs love their pets
“He just integrated right into our family. I guess I was looking at the negative side to pet ownership before he came into our family, and now it’s all positive.” – Red Shoes PR's Lisa Cruz, on her dog, Patches
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For all the well-documented headaches our animal friends might cause us – from late-night potty breaks to the Furmaggedon that overtakes crannies and couches in what can seem like an instant – almost any pet owner will tell you that all the fuss is worth it. And that’s not just cloying sentimentality. No, the joys of pet ownership are now backed by real, hard science.
Studies have shown that owning a pet can improve your mood, reduce stress, and even lower your blood pressure. In fact, a University of Buffalo study concluded that owning a dog or cat can help patients control their blood pressure more effectively than drugs such as ACE inhibitors. Another study, this one from the schools of Business, Medicine, and Nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that taking dogs to work with you can lower stress and increase employee satisfaction.
So it’s no surprise that business executives, who typically live demanding, stress-filled, blood-pressure-spiking lives, are well represented when it comes to welcoming animal companions into their homes.
“I just like that you can come home from work and it doesn’t matter what kind of mood you’re in, they always want to be with you,” said Sheila Jenkins, president of the Fox Valley’s Network Health Plan and the owner of a 7-year-old Maltese-Shih Tzu mix named Benny. “And having a smaller dog means that he can sit beside me in the chair, and he can sit on my lap. It makes it a very good environment as far as just that companionship, but I think that part helps with stress reduction.”
Joys outweigh responsibilities
Of course, any non-pet owner would likely look at the frequent walks and feedings and general caregiving required of pet owners – not to mention the continual barking and/or fussing – and conclude that time-pressed execs would be the last candidates for pet ownership.
And that’s just what Lisa Cruz once thought. The president and founder of Red Shoes PR in Appleton, Cruz became something of an accidental dog owner when she adopted her family’s dog, Patches, an approximately 9-year-old Maltese-Shih Tzu, after her uncle moved into a nursing home and could no longer care for the animal.
“It’s not embarrassing if your dog does stupid stuff. That’s different than if your children do really bizarre stuff.” – Sheila Jenkins
“I grew up with a family of pets,” said Cruz. “We always had dogs and cats and everything, and then when we were first married, my husband and I had a couple cats but we ended up giving them away before we moved back to Wisconsin.
“Then we started a family, and I jokingly said for the past 11 or 12 years that we’re never getting a pet because we have four boys to take care of, so to me getting a pet was just putting me over the top with responsibilities.”
Cruz quickly changed her mind, however, when the family dog became, well, part of the family.
“He has just been a great blessing to our family life, and has helped with stress relief,” said Cruz. “It’s been wonderful.”