While it’s not uncommon for workplaces to entertain canine visitors during “bring your dog to work” days, it’s rare to find employers — particularly larger organizations — that keep an in-house dog as a full-time employee perk. 

At Holmes Murphy’s new headquarters in Waukee, Max, a 6-month-old goldendoodle, has the run of the place. Max, who is named after company co-founder Max Holmes, coincidentally shares a Dec. 8 birthday with the company’s chairman and CEO, Dan Keough. 

The whole building is his oyster dog biscuit, so to speak. “He can go wherever he wants,” said Karla Radda, vice president of operations for the insurance brokerage, noting that the puppy often falls asleep while sitting in on meetings, usually after crawling behind a couch. 

The idea for a full-time office dog came up after another goldendoodle, which was being auctioned for Dowling Catholic High School, visited the headquarters for a day and was a big hit with employees, said Radda, who takes Max home every night. She and Senior Vice President John Hurley “decided having a full-time dog in the office would be a great idea,” she said, so they got another goldendoodle from the breeder, Whispering Pines in Hull.  

As an expert on employee wellness, Holmes Murphy knows a good stress reliever when it sees one, and having a dog around is one of the best. When Max gives a bark or two after arriving in the morning, it’s not long before employees will come around to pet him. “He does seem to relieve some stress,” Radda said. 

The Weitz Co., which constructed the Waukee facility, even fashioned an office doghouse for Max that’s a miniature replica of the building. To prep for his office job, Max underwent a 16-week training program that included some service-dog training. 

Max can be scheduled for walks and runs by employees, and usually gets about four to five walks a day around the pond on the headquarters’ grounds. “He has his email and his own calendar,” Radda said. “He’s our star employee.”