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Why working from home is great for our pets
Pets emerge the real winners out of new socially distanced, working from home life.
As the world retreats into COVID-19 hibernation, our furry friends are emerging as the big #workfromhome winners.
Dogs and cats accustomed to life at home alone while their owners go to work are now enjoying maximum attention as days at home drag into weeks. (More: Why now is the perfect time to adopt a pet.)
Our four-legged ‘WFH helpers’ are the new stars of social media, flouting all the social-distancing rules and warming the internet’s often anxious heart.
For those of us lucky enough to work from home with pets, paws on keyboards and barking during conference calls have become part of a normal working day.
Coronavirus social distancing has also opened doors into the once-private world of celebrity homes. Just scroll through Twitter to see Anthony Hopkins serenading his cat, or watch Arnold Schwarzenegger feeding his tiny pet donkey and miniature horse at his kitchen table on Instagram.
Superstar Lady Gaga has been “hanging at home with my dogs”, sharing a photo of herself on a couch with her French bulldogs Gustavo, Asia and Koji.
Similar images have emerged from the homes of singer Ariana Grande and TV star Ellen Degeneres, both taking a back seat to their photogenic canine housemates.
“This is how we Saturday,” wrote Degeneres, with a photograph of herself sitting on a huge sofa with her brood of rescue dogs drawing more than 10,000 comments.
“If there was ever a time that people need some joy, it’s now,” says Melbourne food writer Sofia Levin, proud owner of a five-year-old toy poodle called Jinkee (@lifeofjinkee), an impossibly adorable furbaby with 75,800 followers and a doggy influencer agency selling her wares.
“It’s hard to feel miserable when you’ve got a toy poodle looking up at you with a little cat ball in her mouth waiting to play fetch.
“Could you imagine if they could speak? It’d be just like having a child. She’d be saying ‘feed me’ or ‘play with me’. Actually, she’d be ‘hey look at me’.
“And now that we’re at home all day in isolation, she has more play time. You should see her sliding up and down the hall chasing her cat ball.”
As employees across the globe brace for more weeks of working from home, the constant affection and demands of pets create an equal dose of fun and frustration.
For Melbourne brand manager Mark Polchleb, working from home with his miniature dachshunds Billie and Ollie inspired him to set up an Instagram account called @dogsworkingfromhome.
“I’ve always loved dogs, and I know from experience how they reduce stress levels,” Mark says from his Altona North home office. “So I thought to myself, ‘we all need a bit more happiness in our lives right now’, so I set up the account. Within two weeks, we had 63,200 followers.”
In normal times, Mark said he and his husband Shannon Grixti head to work and leave their dachshunds at home together from 8.30am to 6.30pm on weekdays.
Now their dogs demand regular breaks for cuddles and scratches, and Mark has his hands full with hundreds of submissions from dog owners seeking poochy fame on @dogsworkingfromhome, now with 76,300 followers.
Mark is no stranger to the lure of instafamous dogs. His dachschunds (@billieandollie) have already amassed several thousand followers. But the @dogsworkingfromhome account eclipsed the dachschunds’ account in days.
Submissions are welcome from proud dog owners, but only photos in the home, encouraging people to stay put during the pandemic.
“Who doesn’t love a cute dog picture,” Mark says. “Our No. 1 objective is to make people happy and break up the doom and gloom.
“Dogs are the real winners out of the coronavirus. They’re getting what they want 24-seven… more time with us and more affection. Our dogs have never really had us 24-seven.”