08/22/2018 - 13:30

Noppa the therapy dog works for belly rubs

Both doors to “Sirpala” – the assistants’ room in MuniFin’s office on Jaakonkatu in Kamppi, Helsinki – are closed. It is one of the first signs that lets the other employees in the office know who is visiting today. Peeking into Sirpala through the glass wall, they can see a glimpse of Noppa the office dog making his rounds excitedly from one person to the next.

Noppa comes to the door to greet each new arrival with equal enthusiasm and sometimes even a sloppy kiss. Noppa’s owner, MuniFin’s administrative assistant Laura Kari, watches Noppa’s antics with a smile on her face. One-year-old Noppa has love and time for everyone.

“Noppa is a Stabyhoun, which is a bird dog breed originating in the Netherlands. Stabyhouns are social dogs that have mostly lost their hunting instinct. Noppa likes people, which makes him an ideal office and therapy dog”, Laura Kari explains.

Working from a young age

The door to Sirpala opens and closes several times during our interview, as people come to say hello to Noppa and give him a quick cuddle. Several people also greet the office’s furriest employee through the glass as they pass the room. Noppa is clearly well known in the office. His fame is undoubtedly due to his affectionate nature but also the fact that he has been coming into the office from a young age.

“Noppa was actually only eight weeks old when he first visited the office. I was working from home that day, but I had to pop into the office and I took Noppa with me. At the moment, Noppa does a full day in the office once every couple of weeks. As the office is a bit quieter during the summer months, Noppa’s visits are actually more frequent right now”, Kari says.

Noppa’s typical day at work

Noppa has a fairly well-established routine for the days when he is in the office.

“Noppa’s typical day begins when we arrive at the office together around eight in the morning. Mornings and mid-mornings are Noppa’s busiest time when he is at his most energetic. Lots of people come to say hello to Noppa and to play with him. Around eleven, we go out for a little walk and to grab some lunch for me. Noppa tends to get a bit tired in the afternoons, and at some point he usually finds himself a peaceful spot for a nap, often either under my desk or my colleague Eeva’s desk.”

Despite the tiring nature of his work, Noppa loves being an office dog.

“Noppa clearly likes being here and meeting people. So far, he seems satisfied with being paid for his services in belly rubs, play and treats”, Kari says.

Noppa relieves stress and brings people closer together

Office dogs and therapy dogs are becoming more and more popular around the world. According to Kari, Noppa has had a particularly big impact on the atmosphere in the office and relationships between people.

“Noppa has allowed me to meet many colleagues whom I would otherwise not know very well. The presence of a dog brings out a very different side of people compared to normal office work. Many of my colleagues are in the habit of having a quick cuddle with Noppa after a stressful meeting, and they say that even a short moment with him lifts their spirits and puts them in a good mood.”

Sirpa Kestilä, who has come to give Noppa a belly rub, agrees.

“We work in a big office with around 150 employees in total. Many of our employees who do not need the assistants’ services as such have come to see Noppa here in Sirpala after hearing about him from their colleagues”, Kestilä says.

An office dog gives people licence to relax and even be a little silly just by being present.

“People often think that working as we do for a financial institution, we need to be serious and formal. But when Noppa is here, even the people in suits get on their hands and knees on the floor to play with him”, Kari says.

“We have a lot of dog lovers among our staff, and for people like me, who used to have dog, Noppa kind of feels like my dog, too”, Kestilä says, ruffling Noppa’s head.

Text: Joonas Holste
Photo: Jari Kinnunen