Bereavement Services, Lambeth [BSL] have recently welcomed a new member of staff to their growing team
Lincoln the sausage dog is a dachshund who is just over nine months old.
He was acquired in February by the Head of BSL, Jacqueline Landy and joined the team at West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium in April this year.
Lincoln "claimed" the space immediately and took a shine to his new colleagues Sam, Rose and Maggie right away. He lays in wait for them to arrive almost every morning so that he can pounce on them first thing for snuggles and affection.
Lincoln has full run of the office and, although he's not allowed upstairs as navigating stairs isn't good for a dachshund's back, he often attends interviews and meetings.
"We call him Chief Morale Officer," says Jacqueline, "He's friends with everyone. Whenever visitors arrive and see dog toys they're always super keen to meet him and always lose their minds when they do."
Lincoln brings more than just his cuteness to the team.
Studies have shown that the presence of dogs in the office makes a meaningful difference to a work environment.
"...research has shown that dogs offer social support, are able to reduce stress, increase cognitive abilities and social interaction and counteract depression and anxiety in people. Not only do the owners benefit from this, but also non-dog owners who share their work environment with the dogs of their colleagues and ultimately also the companies themselves. The reason is obvious: work-related stress can decrease concentration and work motivation, create a tense work environment, reduce the work performance of employees and lead to burnout and increased absenteeism/sick leave. In contrast, the presence of a dog in the office can bring significant benefits to the health and performance of employees, which could help to increase productivity and the efficiency of many companies." [source: www.four-paws.org]
Nonetheless, Jacqueline is frank with us - "I'm sure he annoys people sometimes," - but for the very most part Lincoln has had a massively positive effect on the working environment. As well as the team dynamic at Bereavement Services.
"People talk about him a lot - he's a big part of the conversation," she says.
"People have joked about changing plans about where they're working that week if they know he's coming in. Lincoln brings joy.
People don't talk to me, they talk to Lincoln - if I come in on my own, people are like, 'Where's Lincoln?'"
Although our grounds are public spaces, we don't allow dogs, but he's got a little garden at the back so he scampers around that." Jacqueline tells us.
When asked what would the effect be if Lincoln stopped coming into the office Jacqueline says that people would work from home more for a start - "If he had an IG page, people would follow it".
Lincoln is set to head up external affairs and advocacy for GLPC ... and this statement is not as tongue-in-cheek as one might think.
With the launch of BSL's Greater London Pet Crematorium - inner London's very first pet crematorium based in Streatham Cemetery Chapel - Jacqueline is very aware that a genuine affinity and empathy with dog and pet owners in general is essential.
"People treat their pets like their loved ones.
As I said, dogs aren't allowed in the cemetery, but you know, I have a dog. My colleagues have dogs. We help families who have pets - we are pet-friendly," says Jacqueline matter-of-factly.
"He bolted out [of the office] the other day and we chased him and a funeral director helped us catch him and instead of reminding us that dogs aren't allowed on the grounds, he rolled up his sleeve and showed us a tattoo of his sausage dog that passed away." she tells us.
Because of Lincoln people open up about their own pets far more than they would otherwise and often end up sharing stories and experiences of their own pet bereavements.
If we don't care about pets how can people trust us to take care of their pets?"
Look out for Lincoln on our social channels and, who knows - he may be starting a channel of his very own!
To find out more about Greater London Pet Crematorium, get in touch with Bereavement services via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them on 020 7926 4221.
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