Max Meingarten, front, and his owner Corey Meingarten, a Systems Administrator in the Faculty of Law, is the canine ambassador for the faculty. When he’s not trying to eat your lunch leftovers, he’s responsible for boosting morale and greeting visitors in the dean’s office.
By Adela Talbot
Max Meingarten is that office colleague who sometimes steals your food. He can be pesky, and at the very least, he expects you to share your snacks. If you’re having a bad day as you walk into work, he’s that ever-eager co-worker who happily greets you – Monday through Friday.
You’ll just have to forgive him if he drools a little or gets fur all over your clothes.
For the past two years, Max, a 5-year-old golden retriever, has been a full-time member of the dean’s office team within the Faculty of Law. As a puppy, he started out casually dropping in on Fridays with his human, System Administrator Corey Meingarten. The team loved him – soon enough, Max became an office staple.
Today, he is the faculty’s Canine Ambassador, who is, according to his online profile page on the faculty website, “responsible for morale development and the consumption of leftovers … greeting visitors at the front counter, watching for courier deliveries and welcoming guests.”
“I started bringing him because it was awesome for me, and my co-workers really liked it,” said Meingarten, BA’10. “He was around during exams and we were finding when students came in really stressed out or distraught because something hadn’t gone well, it was really comforting to them to have him around. He would run over to them, and I guess it’s really hard to be sad about something when a dog is trying to lick your face. And he’s just been part of the office ever since.”
Max knows the courier delivery people well and associates the word “greet” with jumping up on the front counter to say hello when they come. More often than not, this routine yields some treats, so Max is more than happy to help out.
Office culture has changed with Max around, Meingarten explained, noting everyone is more relaxed. He provides an outlet for students, staff and visitors to be friendly and casual, regardless of who they might be and how they might be expected to behave.
“Some of our visitors are high-ranking judges – we’ll have justices of the Supreme Court come through, and they will be all dressed up, and they will have their RCMP escort, and you’ll see them get down on their knees and pet a dog – which is not what you’d expect,” he said.
Meingarten said students have requested visits with Max, and he has had to drop him off in study rooms and pick him up at a later time. While Max has no formal training, he is basically helping students as a de-stress tool – like the therapy dogs that sometimes visit campus.
“He’s been part of our faculty Welcome Day before – with first year students in a room, he sits at the front. The central office is where our Student Services is, so if we have students coming in with any sort of problem, they come to where Max and I are, and he usually runs for the door to see who’s coming in, and it’s helped students having trouble. Our Student Services staff can’t give someone a hug but he can,” Meingarten said.
“His original title was just ‘Dog,’ which I thought was just funny. Now he’s a ‘Canine Ambassador’ and I think that was right around the time the Globe and Mail wrote about the Hilton having canine ambassadors,” he continued.
One of Max’s favourite activities is chasing things, he added, and campus can get frustrating with all the geese, ducks and gophers he’s not really allowed to run for. But Max has been chasing Pokémon lately, Meingarten noted, so he’s getting his fill of hunting.