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Oggy the dog comes to work with Carsten at the bank every day

Carsten Bahs’ autism poses a challenge to him when meeting other people, but when he brings his dog to work, he feels safe. Until last year, this was not a possibility, but a new bank policy has now changed that.

25. Sep 2023
6 min
English / Dansk
16 9 Carsten Bahs1
Oggy accompanies Carsten Bahs when he gets coffee or goes to the canteen. Photo: Claus Bech

When Carsten Bahs walks into Nordea’s office in Høje Taastrup, his dog Oggy is always by his side.

The black and white Border Collie is an assistance dog and accompanies Carsten Bahs everywhere.

The 63-year-old IT developer has an autism spectrum disorder, and he is not very comfortable in crowds.

“Oggy makes me feel safe. If I didn't have him, I wouldn't be able to talk to strangers or colleagues I don't know very well," Carsten Bahs explains.

Oggy acts as a base providing Carsten Bahs with a sense of calm and security when he has to talk to other people or the noise becomes too much.

"He is a bridge and a shield," says Carsten Bahs, looking down at Oggy, who is lying by his side.

Advocate of a new policy

Until last summer, the IT developer was not allowed to bring his dog to work because no policy existed for assistance or guide dogs at Nordea.

But the IT developer took it up with his boss, who raised the issue further up in the organisation, and, today, a policy is in place which allows Nordea employees to bring a dog if it is certified and trained to work as an aid for individuals with physical or mental disabilities.

And that makes a world of difference to Carsten Bahs.

Previously, he kept Oggy in his car so he could see him during the workday whenever he needed to.

"I saw him several times a day when I needed a sense of calm and security, and to go for a walk with him," he says.

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“Oggy makes me feel safe. If I didn't have him, I wouldn't be able to talk to strangers or colleagues I don't know very well.”
- Carsten Bahs, IT developer at Nordea

Diagnosis was an eye-opener

Carsten Bahs was not diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder until he was 61. He had always known that he was different somehow, and the diagnosis was a real eye-opener.

"I realised that I wasn’t that odd after all," he says and emphasises that he is not restricted in his working life.

“I take things at face value. And I'm good at solving problems because I compartmentalise things and conclude that either we do it this way or we don't do it. And that's primarily how IT systems work," he explains.

On the other hand, he does not know how to talk about the weather or bringing up children.
“I don't know how to small talk or read between the lines. Forget it," he says, explaining that, generally, he has a bit of a hard time with other people.

And Oggy can feel that. For example, when Carsten Bahs talks to people he does not know, Oggy immediately detects that he becomes anxious and moves close to him.

"He feels it for me. I may not be aware of it myself. He just responds to my signals," says Carsten Bahs, who has had Oggy for seven years.

However, Oggy was not trained as an assistance dog until bringing him to work became an option.


Accompanies him everywhere

Suddenly having a dog between the adjustable desks has been greeted warmly by the colleagues.

“They are fine with him being there. And in other departments, some even say that it looks very nice and that they also want an office dog," says Carsten Bahs.

When Carsten Bahs works, Oggy is lying next to his chair, where the dog also has a small, red plastic bowl of water.

And when Carsten Bahs gets up to go to a meeting or to the floor above his own to get coffee, Oggy walks closely behind him along the carpeted corridors. Only when they go to the canteen is Oggy put on a leash.

“It's only because there are so many people. Otherwise, I just let him walk without a leash. He stays close to me anyway," explains Carsten Bahs.

Oggy is also at work

Oggy is always wearing a blue vest in the office, on which it is printed that he is an assistance dog "at work". Because when Carsten Bahs is at work, so is the dog.

And Oggy knows very well that he is not supposed to play when he is wearing his uniform. When the newsletter Finans meets Carsten Bahs at the office in Høje Taastrup, Oggy tracks his movements and instructions without any problems. The only time Oggy reacts is when the photographer cannot resist saying hello to him.

And that actually gives Carsten Bahs the opportunity to deliver a message that he would very much like to get across.

"When you meet an assistance dog, you should ignore it. Many people want to say hello and pet him, but he gets distracted, so it's best not to do it".

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