Lifestyle

How are dogs coping during the pandemic?

It wasn’t just the human world that changed dramatically in mid-March. Things were suddenly different for dogs, who had to contend with their stressed-out owners working from home, and everyone on the street wearing face masks. Some dogs have struggled with the changes, and some are thriving in lockdown — much like their owners. We asked readers to share their stories of how their dogs were coping with life at home during the pandemic.

Photo by Stefanie Stein

Photo by Erin Mahany

Alfie

New York

Alfie hates Mondays. That’s “when our attention suddenly shifts away from him and back to our laptops,” says his owner, Erin Mahany, 32. “The past few weeks we’ve had issues with him barking at us and trying to paw our laptops closed on Monday mornings.” Sometimes, when he’s had too much togetherness with his humans, he tries to find space away from them — but that’s tough in their studio apartment, so his only option is under the bed. Mahany has bought him extra treats and puzzles to curtail some of his extra energy. And there’s another bright side to his new habits: Mahany has cleaned under the bed.

Photo by Erin Mahany

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Courtesy of Andrea Sogaard

Susie

San Francisco

Susie’s owner, Andrea Sogaard, has a puppy cam in her house, so before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, when she used to work in an office, she thought of Susie as a sleepy, lazy dog. That all changed once she began working from home. Susie, a dachshund-chihuahua-cairn terrier mix, was “a dog possessed,” Sogaard says. Now that her human is always there, all Susie wants to do is play. All. The. Time. “I play with her most of the time, but definitely need a break,” Sogaard says. “She’s very vocal. She’s a whiner. It was just like, okay, chill out. I have to work.” Still, she loves Susie’s newfound burst of playfulness. “I love having the puppy energy back.”

Courtesy of Andrea Sogaard

Photo by Robert Moss

Butternut Squash

Charleston, S.C.

The pandemic has been an instructive time for Butternut Squash, a Carolina pointer who was adopted from the Charleston Animal Society. Butternut loved roaming Charleston’s dog parks and beaches, but with many public spaces closed, he’s had to adapt to life on a leash. He’s also learned to swim across a waterway. His owner, Bobby Moss, says that’s when Butternut’s slight separation anxiety actually worked out for the best — once Moss swims to shore, Butternut would bark and then swim over to be close to him. “Now I can’t keep him out of the water,” he says.

Photo by Robert Moss

Photo by Rory Braun

Bubba

Highland Park, Ill.

Bubba, a 9-year-old golden retriever, is used to splitting his time between home, day care, and his owner’s work. But once his owner, Rory Braun, started working from home, he started getting suspicious. Bubba would stare at her constantly. “Although he’s always been a dependent dog, he’s never been a stalker,” she writes. “It was so intense, if I woke up one morning and found a note made with cut up letters from a magazine saying something like, ‘Human no good make it stop go day care now,’ I wouldn’t have been surprised.” Bubba has since stopped staring and now lies on a cooling pad and sleeps all day.

Photo by Rory Braun

Photo by Heather Gallagher

Fozzie

Austin

Fozzie is the “ultimate extrovert,” says his owner, Mary Kathryn Paynter. The goldendoodle used to accompany Paynter daily to a coffee shop, where he would make friends with the patrons and solicit pets, belly rubs and snacks. Once the pandemic began, Paynter, 35, could tell Fozzie was getting lonely, so she began taking him on daily walks. His new “friends” are gaggles of geese, birders in a park, masked security guards, and the workers sanitizing shopping carts outside their grocery store. “Fozzie has taught me that community is flexible,” Paynter says, “and can be found in all kinds of circumstances.”

Photo by Heather Gallagher

Photo by Amy Grosheider

Henry

New York

Henry, a 15-year-old Westie, isn’t adjusting to quarantine well. Beginning in April, he started following one of his owners, Jimmy, around their 700-square feet New York apartment. He barks whenever Jimmy goes to the bathroom, or whenever they leave, Amy Grosheider says. “He’s always been attached to my husband, who rescued him at 2 years old, but it’s gotten to the point where he must have Jimmy in sight at all times.” The couple have taken to setting up a chair for Henry next to Jimmy, even during the workday and when he is at virtual court. Spending more time outside has helped, Grosheider says, but while they’re home, Henry still needs Jimmy in view.

Photo by Amy Grosheider

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Courtesy of Kate Gorsky

Stanley

Chicago

Stanley “has always been very aware, almost vigilant, of everyone and everything in his home,” says owner Kate Gorsky. The Cavalier King Charles spaniel mix always knew the locations of his owners. Gorsky expected him to be more anxious during quarantine, but instead, she’s been surprised to discover that all he does is sleep or lie around. “He might lift his head to track that I’ve left the room, but instead of being hot on my tail, he sighs heavily and goes back to sleep,” Gorsky says. “I’ve stopped taking it personally.”

Courtesy of Kate Gorsky

Photo by Randy Paine

Dottie

Arlington, Tex.

Dottie has quickly gotten used to taking extra walks during quarantine, and now she won’t say no for an answer, says Randy Paine. The 2-year-old mutt demands walks almost daily after dinner, starting by staring out the front door and windows, then crying and pacing. If her demands aren’t fulfilled, she’ll escalate by crawling on and pawing her owners. Paine says that he indulges Dottie because “the walks are good for everybody,” but Paine worries what will happen once he and his wife permanently go back to the office. “I think working from home has been like heaven for our dogs,” he said. “And I hope we don’t experience any separation anxiety issues when things get back to normal.”

Photo by Randy Paine

Photo by Molly Leonard

Lucy

Brampton, Ontario

“Lucy has definitely changed,” says Molly Leonard, 34. In April and early May, the cocker spaniel lost all ability to stay home alone. She would bark if Leonard and her partner left the house, and proceeded to whine for the first two weeks Leonard was away from home. “Made working from home reeeeally enjoyable for my partner, as you might imagine!” Leonard says when they do have to leave her alone, they resort to bribery. “Lots of peanut butter slathered into a Kong, a nice cozy blanket, fresh water, and then we close the door on her and dash out of the house,” Leonard says.

Photo by Molly Leonard

Photo by Renata Garza-Silva

Gemba

Los Angeles

Australian labradoodle Gemba had a daily habit of chewing something as his owners left the house. Since the pandemic, he’s relaxed much more, says Renata Garza-Silva. She’s happy to be home with him, but worries that he’ll destroy something if she leaves for longer than an hour.

Photo by Renata Garza-Silva

Photo by Debbie Deutsch

Jethro, Floyd and Boris

Denver, N.Y.

With both owners and their three grown-up children home, Debbie Deutsch’s three Newfoundlands, Jethro, Floyd, and Boris, are never alone. They go on walks, hikes and swims, and fun family time is never far away. Floyd, who was experiencing some separation anxiety before the coronavirus pandemic, seems to have recovered. “It is embarrassing how happy they are,” Deutsch says.

Photo by Debbie Deutsch

Photo by Alex Savas

Miles

Ithaca, N.Y.

Alex Savas has worked from home for a long time, so her dog, Miles, had no issues with that. It was the sudden appearance of face masks, instead, that threw the tiny mixed-breed rescue dog for a loop: “He has become more anxious on his walks because people/other dogs do not engage with us anymore and he is afraid of people in masks,” Savas says. “I worry it’s regressing his socialization.” She enlisted some friends to wear masks and give Miles treats, which seems to have helped.

Photo by Alex Savas

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Courtesy of Mary Anne Heckbert

BooBear

Toronto

Once Mary Anne Heckbert began working from home, her 8-year-old Rottweiler mix, BooBear, became her little shadow. He follows her around “to every room, every time I move.” Including the bathroom. She’s definitely worried about separation anxiety for BooBear (though her other Rottweiler, Muffin, is doing fine). “I’m not playing with them during the day because I don’t want them to get used to it,” she says. “I’m trying to really be purposeful about my interactions with them, which is kind of hard.”

Courtesy of Mary Anne Heckbert

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Courtesy of Sunjay Lee

Bada & Hanul

Queens

The silver lining of Sunjay Lee’s final semester of college being cut short was that she’d get to spend some time at home with her Yorkies, Bada and Hanul. It’s been a mixed bag: On the one hand, the pair of notoriously fussy eaters have begun finishing their meals, perhaps because they’re hungrier from more frequent walks. But on the other hand, Bada “has to sit next to someone at all times” and doesn’t do well with being left alone. “Nothing has helped,” says Lee, 22.

Courtesy of Sunjay Lee

Photo by Sam Connell

Kitty

Philadelphia

Kitty, a German shepherd and border collie mix, likes to greet all the people she encounters on her walks. That became much harder when they started staying six feet apart. “She’ll pull in their direction or whine sometimes, and we’ve noticed her jumping more and forgetting a lot of our training on best behavior when meeting people,” says her owner, Sam Connell, 31. But Kitty has no issues with masks: She knows that when Connell puts one on, it means she’s probably going for a walk.

Photo by Sam Connell

Photo by Stefanie Stein

Brandy

Bayonne, N.J.

Brandy, a miniature Schnauzer, is accustomed to receiving a lot of attention from strangers on the street. But once social distancing began, she started lunging at them in desperation. “I’m not providing the level/variety of adoration to which she has grown accustomed, I guess,” says Stefanie Stein, 39, who sometimes allows strangers to pet Brandy — and then wipes her fur down with a grooming wipe. The other issue is the noisy children, now always home, in the apartment above Stein’s. They’re rattling Brandy’s nerves. “We’ve tried every sort of calming treat on the market,” Stein says. “I can’t vouch for the calming, but she enjoys a treat as much as the next gal.”

Photo by Stefanie Stein