Fr. Thomas Hallsten, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, holds Roni during a pet blessing ceremony in 2009.
Fr. Thomas Hallsten, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, holds Roni during a pet blessing ceremony in 2009.

Everyone knows that dog is man’s best friend. Similar to St. Francis of Assisi, who had a special devotion to the friendly, four-legged creatures, priests and members of the Diocese of Phoenix also share a great love for the canine.

June 20 is National Take Your Dog to Work Day, but Fr. Edward Reese, S.J., president of Brophy College Preparatory, has been bringing his two dogs to work for years. Waffles and Archie accompany the Valley Jesuit to work every day. Archie, a yellow lab, and Waffles is an English creme golden retriever create an enjoyable atmosphere for both the dogs and students.

“My dogs generally have the run of the school,” Fr. Reese said. “They’ll follow kids into class sometimes and sit through a chemistry class.”

Fr. Reese spoke about how students at Brophy immediately establish a special bond with the dogs. “The female, the golden retriever, I’ve had her since she was a puppy. So her worldview is boys with sandwiches,” Fr. Reese.

Students were even given the opportunity to name their furry friend. “The group of seniors, when I got her, just decided her name was Waffles,” Fr. Reese noted. “There was no talking them out of it.” Being allowed to interact with students offered great perks for Waffles too. “Every dog needs a boy. She’s got 1,300 of them,” he quipped.

Susan Contreras, who works at Xavier College Preparatory, has also observed the benefits of having dogs in the workplace. Rosie and Ruby — a Maltipoo and a poodle — show up at work with Sr. Nancy and Sr. Lynn every day. “They bring a smile to everybody’s faces,” Contreras said. “The kids love coming in to see them, to pet them, to find out what they’re doing.”

In addition to visiting Rosie and Ruby daily, students at Xavier Preparatory are also given the chance to have some special fun with dogs annually. “We have a dog day to kick off the summer,” Contreras explained. “We do it at the beginning of summer every year.”

Ryan Hill, an employee at the Franciscan Renewal Center, also attested to the fact that dogs make a considerable difference in the work environment. He used to bring his canine companion to work every day, to the great delight of his co-workers. “He would just lay here next to my desk and every once in awhile, he would wander down the hall and say hi to people,” Hill said. “He would brighten people’s day.”

The 80-pound boxer-pit bull mix would shower affection on those around him, prompting people to say ‘thank you’ in various ways. “One lady would always have little packets of peanut butter to give to him,” Hill said. “Another lady would always give him two treats. He would sit there until she gave him the second one, because he knew that he would always get two.”

Fr. Thomas Hallsten, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe, is also well-known for always having his dog around at work. Roni, a west highland white terrier, wanders about the parish office. Sue Hake, the receptionist, said Roni brings a smile to parishioners’ faces.

“People really love it,” Hake said. “They are drawn to the dog — it calms people. They come in and they brighten up.”

“Take Your Dog to Work Day” was begun in 1999 by Pet Sitters International. It was founded as a day to honor dogs and encourage their adoption. It is an annual event and is always celebrated on the Friday following Father’s Day.