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Meet NBCUniversal's Puppy with a Purpose & Star on The Kelly Clarkson Show

Meet Atlas, NBCUniversal's puppy-in-training through a partnership with America's VetDogs and the Guide Dog Foundation. Check out his TV debut on The Kelly Clarkson Show!

March 07, 2024

As Chief Human Resources Officer for NBCUniversal, Vicki Williams is responsible for leading NBCUniversal’s Human Resources strategy and is always looking for new ways to drive employee engagement through partnerships that enhance company culture.

Below read more from Vicki about the partnership between NBCUniversal, America’s VetDogs, and Guide Dog Foundation.

Tell Us About the Puppy In Training Program

NBCUniversal is working with America’s Vet Dogs and their sister organization, the Guide Dog Foundation, on a Puppy-In-Training program to sponsor a puppy for 12-18 months to become a future service dog. Following this one-year period, the puppy will formally enter service dog training in the hopes of graduating to become a certified dog for a veteran or first responder with disabilities. The partnership raises awareness about veterans with disabilities, educates our employees about the role of service dogs, and supports an organization doing great work in our community.

Making NBCU an Even Better Place to Work Through Canine Companionship

The partnership was a combination of many factors.  After the pandemic, we asked employees to return to the office – and many were missing their pets after spending so much time with them at home. We were looking for ways to engage employees in the workplace and were familiar with the Guide Dog Foundation through their partnership with the TODAY Show over the years. The idea of sponsoring a puppy-in-training seemed like the perfect answer.  We could support a great cause while offering education and engagement opportunities to our employees.

The power of dogs is quite remarkable, and we wanted to provide a unique space for our employees to spend time with an animal in the workplace. Research has shown that petting a dog can actually lower your stress hormone (cortisol) and increase levels of your positive feeling hormones (oxytocin).

What Role Do NBCUniversal Employees Play in Atlas' Training

For starters, our employees voted on his name (Atlas) before he arrived but they also play a key role in Atlas’s training. Each week his puppy raiser brings him to 30 Rock where he interacts with employees across the company – an important part of the socialization process. One week he might meet the finance team in a conference room, and the next week, he’s in the writer's room for one of our late-night shows.  Teams can also sign up for sessions,  attend education-based Employee Resource Group events, or run into him in the hallway or elevator.

How do these types of partnerships impact NBCU’s culture?

I am passionate about fostering a positive workplace environment, and programs like this one play an important role. This particular program creates a more enjoyable work environment as dogs can reduce stress and foster a sense of community. It encourages interactions that might not happen otherwise, which promotes more collaboration and teamwork. Also, we are always looking for ways to bring awareness to mental health – and this opportunity allowed us to partner with our ERGs (myAbilities and Veteran’s Network) to educate employees and the community more about the importance and impact of service dogs.

Most Memorable Moments with Atlas?

All of them! Employees just have a better day after seeing Atlas. He is making employees happier one cuddle at a time!  Also, his visit to the 6th floor of 30 Rock where he made his national television debut on The Kelly Clarkson Show was very special.


Stay Connected with Atlas

To stay up to date with Atlas, follow him on Instagram @NBCU_Pup.