Working conditions favorable to pets

Teddy waiting for his fearless leader to be done working. KARIN SPICER

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Teddy waiting for his fearless leader to be done working. KARIN SPICER

Teddy, my family’s 6-year-old Lab, is one extremely happy dog these days.

Because of COVID-19, my husband, Ed, Teddy’s fearless leader, has been working from home.

Now, I have worked from home since Teddy joined our family a little more than five years ago, but Ed’s 24-hour presence plays out like Christmas Day each day for the canine.

Teddy’s morning routine has stayed the same. First, it’s a quick trip to the backyard to take care of his “business.” Then it’s back inside, where his dad has his kibble, sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese, waiting.

In the past, after gobbling his breakfast, Teddy would head back to the master bedroom and hop back in bed with me, the “poor substitute” for his fearless leader. But now that Ed is working from home, the dog joins him in his office.

As Ed makes morning calls, Teddy relaxes on a comfy pillow in the corner. He knows this is his space. Even Pip, our 1-year-old cat, knows this pillow is off limits. Teddy never barks during the phone calls, mindful not to interfere with the conversation.

Teddy only barks to alert Ed if the doorbell rings.

When Teddy used to accompany the “poor substitute” to her office, in addition to alerting her of the doorbell, he felt it was his responsibility to bark when he saw a UPS truck, FedEx van, school bus, family car, truck, van, kid on a bike or a dog-human walking combo. You get the picture.

As Ed takes a break for lunch, Teddy does, too. If there is time before Ed’s next phone call or meeting, the two will take a quick walk around the neighborhood. This mid-day break can expel built-up energy for both.

Teddy and I have always played a puzzle game or two around this time. This is great for simulating his mind. But walks for Teddy, no matter how short, trump puzzle games.

If time does not allow for a walk, a quick game of tug-of-war or fetch will do nicely. The pooch bests his dad every time.

When Ed is done for the day, he and Teddy take a long walk. During these times, Teddy is the happiest. They walk leisurely through our neighborhood and the next one. Since the fearless leader didn’t have a commute from the office, there is more time for the pooch to explore and sniff his surroundings.

COVID-19 is scary. Particularly when there is so much we still need to understand about this virus.

But Teddy – and Pip, for that matter – have been great distractions in our household. Despite the virus, both still need food, fresh water and exercise. And not when we feel like it, but daily, just like before the virus reared its ugly head and just as it will be when the virus dissipates.

For now, Teddy is thoroughly enjoying his fearless leader working from home. And the fearless leader doesn’t mind, either.

Karin Spicer, a magazine writer, has been entertaining families for more than 20 years. She lives in Bellbrook with her family and two furry animals all who provide inspiration for her work. She can be reached at

How to keep dogs busy when their humans work from home:

1. Interactive toys: mazes, Kongs

2. Toys to gnaw on. Make sure they are size and strength appropriate.

3. Walks

4. Tug-of-war

5. Catch

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