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  • Gillette Vaira

My Dog's Pandemic Experience

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Before the pandemic directly affected us, I regularly walked with my dog, Chance. And that hasn’t stopped. In fact, our time outside together has increased. The weather is nicer, the days are longer, and the possibility of running into others outside isn’t keeping us from our routine.


During some of the first days of the pandemic, with more light at night, Chance and I decided to take a walk a little later than usual. We left the house close to 8 p.m., and as we were along the neighborhood walking path, I began to hear howling. Chance heard it, too, but we knew it wasn’t dogs in the area. In fact, it sounded like humans!

This was the night when we first learned about the howling for healthcare workers. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a historic moment. Even now, just weeks later, I realize that the howling was a part of the unusual responses that emerged during shelter-in-place, as we sought ways to adapt to – and deal with – our new environment.

The next night, we joined in on the howling. A neighbor came outside, confused by our behaviors. Not everyone was a fan, but Chance, my husband, and I had an amazing time howling on our front step. It was a great way to expend energy after sheltering in place all day!

Chance can read!

Adventures Chance and I enjoy trying different walking paths and trails in the area. It was interesting to see social distancing signs pop up on trails over time. Of course, social distancing means nothing to Chance! He is surrounded by felines and humans at home, so he takes every opportunity to make new canine friends on our walks!

Even during shelter-in-place – when social distancing was at its height in Montana – we encountered many groups of people on the paths. At times, it became difficult to socially distance! However, we took this as a training opportunity. We simply moved to the side and practiced the “sit” command while they passed. Chance even received compliments from passers-by for his good behavior, too!

Working from Home

As an Australian Shepherd, it’s in Chance’s genetics to be a working dog. He is always looking for a job! Whether he’s herding our cats away from the fence in the back yard (and away from potential escape into the neighbors’ yards) or being the watch dog inside our home, he takes his work seriously.

When I worked from home for two months during the state’s shelter-in-place orders, Chance had a new job! He soaked up quality time while I worked, as he slept on my feet or hung out next to me. He may have been heard in the background protecting our home from a UPS driver or two during a few virtual meetings, but other than that, he was the best colleague!

Now that I am back in the office, we are back in our old routine. Chance waits for me at home, and then we enjoy our walks and Kong playtime together after work. However, we’ll both be grateful for the experiences we had together working from home, as we sheltered-in-place during the pandemic.

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