Did you get to take your dog to work with you on Take Your Dog to Work Day, Friday, June 21? I know that lots of you spend plenty of time with your dogs on the weekends or after work – training, grooming, getting ready for shows and performance events. And some of you make your living by handling dogs, grooming them or training them, or even spend your time judging dogs.

I count myself among the very lucky people who get to have their dogs with them every single day that they work. Yes, my work certainly involves dogs, but I don’t have an appointment book full of baths or classes or even shows to attend with them. I just have a laptop, the Internet, a knack for getting experts to respond to my requests and a bunch of reference books on a handy bookshelf.

Oh, yes, and I have Max.

Here’s my buddy, Max, keeping me company while I work. Photo by Tim Bulone.

You know Max. He’s the 15-pound Chihuahua mix  who represents the canine species in our household. He’s the one who has kept me company since I left my magazine editing job at the end of 2009. That first year, especially, would have been pretty lonely without my little writing buddy at my side.

My husband typically headed off to work before I awoke. I finally had the chance to sleep in until a decent hour, and I definitely wanted to take advantage of it. So, when I eventually stirred from my night’s slumber, the first greeting I got was from Max. He somehow managed to discern my awake-for-the-day movement and noises from my gosh-this-is-luxury-and-I’m-sleeping-some-more cues. When he sensed I was really waking up, he’d crawl up beside me for a little morning petting and attention. In my book, that’s a pretty sweet way to start the day.

I could not, however, sleep until, say, 11 or 12 because he definitely would need to go to the bathroom before then. So, he serves as something of an alarm clock. My husband takes him out very early – around 4:30, but around 9 or so he’s ready for urination round two.

That’s another advantage of having Max with me while I work. He forces me to take a break and get outside. Sometimes it’s just to the pole in front of our duplex that sports a “No Parking Thursdays 9 to 11 a.m.” sign. Other times, it’s down to the telephone pole in the alley. When I think I can spare the time, it’s all the way along the route of his regular evening walk.

He’s also, like most dogs, an unparalleled listener. While I’m sure there are dog owners out there who don’t converse with their dogs, except to tell them what to do, I’m not one of them.

I, like most of you I’m guessing, must greet my dog anytime I enter or re-enter a room he’s in. “Hey, buddy” is one of my favorites. I never called him “buddy” until I started working at home. Now it’s “Let’s go out, buddy.” Or if I’m heading outside for a non-dog-related reason, it’s “Are you coming, buddy?” Or if he’s wandering around the apartment with no apparent aim, “What’re you up to, buddy?” Then there’s “Unh, unh, Max,” as he’s heading into the room from which the cats’ litter box calls to him. I guess it’s kind of like kids – they’re sweetie, honey, or whatever until they’re doing something they’re not supposed to, then it’s a name, or, with some children, their full name.

I don’t, however, use my writing buddy’s full name when I vent my frustrations out loud. I assume that he’s listening, even though he may look like he’s sound asleep. If my voice should spark with vehemence, he looks up to see what’s happening. Fortunately, he seems to know that he’s not the target of my ire. As soon as he discerns that I am OK and not directing my comment at him – how could I be since he’s lying perfectly still? – he settles right back into his nap.

My husband now works at home too, but spends most of his time at a desk, also in front of a laptop, in another room. So, Max remains my writing buddy. I like to think that it’s because he finds my presence reassuring, interesting or entertaining. I’m pretty certain, however that it’s because he prefers spending his days on the bed where I prop my feet while I write. Either way, I’m happy he’s remained loyal to me. After more than three years together daily, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more accommodating writing buddy.

Thanks, Max. You’re the best.