Caroline O'Donoghue: How I imagine an annual performance review with the dog would go

You are a terrible employee. But you’re a very, very good girl
Caroline O'Donoghue: How I imagine an annual performance review with the dog would go

Caroline O'Donoghue's dog Sylvie

Hello, dog. Please take a seat. I’m so glad we could find time for this little chat.

Are you... Ok, you’re still sitting down.

So to begin... Still sitting down. Right. Maybe the tight circular movements can wait until after our annual performance review, and you can just stand for the meantime.

I know you only do the little circle movements when you’re anxious. I also know why you are anxious. You have sensed, correctly I think, that there has been a certain level of disharmony among the senior members of staff (me and Gavin) and much of that unhappiness has stemmed from our disappointment in your most recent work.

Some of this, we know, is our fault. When we first hired you to be our dog we were a small, young company. Hardly a business at all. We were 27 and 30; we were living in our first flat together; when we began the recruitment process we weren’t even sure what it was we were looking for. Then we met you. You were hiding behind a paddling pool in Harpenden and you were the size of a large baked potato. Then we discovered that you could not see very well. It transpired that you would need a range of eye surgeries, and that the cost of those surgeries would roughly amount to the signature advance of my first book. We were glad to foot these costs. We are a diverse workspace after all, and we have not regretted our decision. Both senior staff and outside stakeholders — friends, family, in-laws, etc — have agreed that you were a charming addition to the team.

But in all this early excitement, we were not clear about our expectations. This is our fault. We assumed you knew — and to assume, is to make an ass out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

We had read that Jack Russell terriers were ratters, and were used to catch vermin in the great factories of the industrial revolution.

I sense you know where this conversation is going, so I won’t pussyfoot any longer: the mice, Sylv. We thought you would take care of the mice.

This was not a problem in our first two homes, where we didn’t have a garden, and mice were not an issue. However. Since the weather has turned, the mice have begun to take refuge in our home, and your reaction has been — to put it kindly — underwhelming. On the first occasion (10/11/2021 — see incident report attached), the three of us were watching TV when we heard a scratching in the wall. Instead of getting up, attempting to find a scent, registering an alarm, etc — you merely looked at us, as if to say “did you guys hear that?” and then you went back to watching Bake Off.

The second incident occurred just two days later, when we noticed that you were reluctant to approach your food bowl. We then discovered, upon very light investigation, that a mouse had died mere inches away from it and was being obscured by the bin. This was extremely disappointing to us. Not only were you not actively hunting the mice, but the mice were actively stealing from your bowl, and you were letting them. May I remind you, Sylv, that when an outside intruder steals from you, he is stealing from the company. He is stealing from your employer’s pockets. We naturally had some very serious questions about why you were letting this happen, and wondered about your motives, your commitment to the team, even tabling the issue of extortion, insider trading, etc.

The third and frankly most regrettable incident was captured on CCTV. We came home to find that a mouse was trapped under your bowl. This, we thought, was your chance to impress us. The problem, possibly, was that you were not receiving enough inter-departmental support, and we combined our resources in order to help you. We used a broom to scoot the bowl, like a hockey puck, into a corner where the mouse’s escape routes would be few. Then we used the other end of the broom to lift the bowl, so when the mouse ran out, he would run directly into your capable claws.

We both know what happened next.

You did catch the mouse. You did! We were so pleased for you. At last, your potential was being reached. The mouse hung in your mouth. We clapped and cheered.

You immediately got excited, and let the mouse go. It ran under the sofa, and one of our senior managers (Gavin) eventually had to kill it using a 800-page memoir of Gloria Swanson. You are lucky that Gloria Swanson had a lot of memories, Sylv.

You are very fortunate indeed.

Now we are at an impasse. We know there is at least one mouse left in the house, and we cannot rely on you to dispose of it. We also cannot put poison or traps down, because you will either eat them or get your nose snapped off. Humane traps don’t work. Everybody knows that.

I’m sorry to say you are now officially on employee probation. Your work will be under strict review, and if you fail again — well. Nothing will happen. You will continue living a wonderful life, two walks a day, high meat-content kibble, swims on a Saturday morning, permission to sleep on our bed, the most delicate tick removals that humanity will allow, end-of-the-yoghurt-pot privileges, etc. What can we say?

You are a terrible employee. But you’re a very, very good girl.

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Execution Time: 0.228 s