We are excited to announce our affiliation with the amazing organisation, Paws in Work. They are a specialist puppy therapy service for companies looking to improve their staff well-being, combat stress and encourage team bonding. Research shows the positive benefit that pet interaction can have on your mental health and we are here for it! Their director, Adam Amhama, answered some questions for us to all get to know them better. We are looking forward to working some more with them so stay tuned for what we have coming!
1. What inspired you to start PIW and what’s your mission? Where do you see PIW in 5 years' time?
Paws in Work and the idea of puppy therapy began with our Founder, Ashley Fry, in July 2018. We had both worked in the fitness industry for years, with a big part of our roles being to promote health and wellbeing to employees of companies surrounding the health clubs we worked in. We would organise the typical team spin classes, goodie bag drops, yoga sessions and fitness assessments for these companies in a bid to promote a healthy lifestyle that would ultimately make people happier, more productive and improve their mental wellbeing. The idea of this was great, however, the hectic work lives of employees meant that taking a long break for the gym became nearly impossible, and we just weren't seeing a big impact within the companies we were working with.
Having tried out a few different ideas for wellbeing events that could entice people away from the desk, Ashley then came up with the idea of puppy therapy; an event that would combine his love for dogs and wellbeing. I worked with Ashley and Paws in Work's Account Manager, Jamie Hardman, on the first-ever Paws in Work event and the result was incredible. No matter the background or status of the person within the company, everyone was involved, everyone was buzzing with excitement and the best part, everyone was talking about their mental health. Something clicked on that day.
Our mission at Paws in Work is 'to create a better life for people and pups'. Through our events and mental health training, we've been able to reach out to and educate tens of thousands of employees in the U.K. not only about mental health but also the importance of puppy socialisation and ethical breeding of dogs. Over the next 5 years, we hope to expand UK-wide and develop both areas of the business to the point that we become a household name when it comes to workplace wellbeing and early stage puppy socialisation.
2. How would you describe Puppy Therapy for someone who has never experienced it? In a nutshell, we bring a litter of loveable puppies to an office, create a dedicated puppy-safe environment for them, and offer employees the opportunity to take 30 minutes out of their day, to completely switch off from the outside world and get lost in the joys of puppy life. Whether you're a CEO or an intern, everyone takes a seat on a comfy cushion with a blanket on their lap and all barriers are broken down as you share in your mutual love for the playful puppies running around looking for belly rubs and cuddles.
3. As the Director of PIW, how do you look after your well-being? For me personally, I am really trying to get the first part of my day right at the moment. If I manage to get in some exercise, eat something nutritious and listen to part of a podcast or audiobook before 9am, then I feel so much more in control and ready to have a good day. When I'm in a better headspace in the morning, then I will always be more helpful to the team and anyone else I interact with for the rest of the day. 4. Tell us about the benefits of Puppy Therapy
On a basic physiological level, countless studies show that interacting with pets, and dogs in particular, tends to reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body. All of this has a calming and relaxing effect on people. There is also a release of the 'love' hormone oxytocin between both dogs and people when interacting. For the puppies in our sessions, there is an even bigger benefit they gain through socialisation. In the early stages of life, it's crucial that puppies are introduced to many positive experiences in order to build their confidence, prepare them for the outside world and ultimately prevent behavioural issues in later life. Our events are carefully planned to help introduce the puppies to brand new environments in a way that is safe, controlled and positive from start to finish.
5. If time and money was not an issue, what would you be doing? As cliche as it sounds I can't imagine myself doing anything else full time outside of Paws in Work at the moment, so I would continue to help build Paws in Work and hopefully accelerate our progress by implementing all the ideas we'd be able to with money being no issue. With time not being an issue though, I would definitely travel more and experience different parts of the world in between our days with the pups. 6. What are your top 3 well-being tips? - Get to know yourself - By taking time to understand who you are as a person and the things that positively or negatively impact your wellbeing, you'll be able to make better choices about the things you do and the people you spend your time with. Never feel bad for putting your own wellbeing at the forefront of your decisions. - Share your experiences with others - Speaking about our wellbeing and learning through the experiences of others is not only therapeutic but also a great way to pick up new ways of looking after ourselves.
- Look after the SHED (Sleep Hydration Exercise Diet) - This is something our Head of Wellbeing, Jo-Anna Sell, teaches and I couldn't agree more with the concept. Sometimes we just need to keep things simple. By focusing on getting these four things right it's amazing how quickly we can begin to feel better, or at least make ourselves more prepared to deal with the bigger obstacles life throws at us.
7. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
I'd definitely have to go with teleportation. Travelling to any destination in the world whenever I wanted would be the dream, especially at the moment! 8. Give us your best puppy/dog joke What do you call a dog magician? A Labracadabrador. (Apologies to all the readers for that one) 9. What excites you the most about the PIW and inside out UK collaboration? As soon as I found out how Inside Out started and their mission I knew we had to work together in some way. We have already taken so much inspiration from Inside Out; from the way the business model works, to their dedication to providing access to mental health education for those who most need it and likewise the impact they are looking to make within workplaces when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Not only do we see this as a great collaboration, but also an opportunity to learn and become better at what we do as well. When I think of how young Inside Out and Paws in Work are in our respective journeys, and everything we have both achieved already, it excites me to think how far we will be in a few years from now. Through collaborating on different projects, we hope to support each other's missions and truly make a positive impact on the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people around the U.K.
Thank you, Paws in Work!
- Inside Out tEAM