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How to Prepare Our Dogs For When We Return To Work

There has been an increase of “pandemic puppies” during this pandemic, where people have been adopting dogs seeking companionship due to social distancing. There are also many dogs that have been part of our families since before the pandemic started. So how do we prepare our dogs for the day when some of us finally head back to the workplace and leave them home alone?

This situation is similar to dropping your child off at school for the first several times. Without preparing your child, in advance, it could prove to be really difficult on your child to have a huge, sudden change thrusted upon the child. Similarly, just as you need to prepare your child for big changes, many dogs, “pandemic dogs,” who have been adopted during this pandemic, have been home with their human companions for over a year now, and they do not know life with their human companions any other way. Dogs are creatures of routine, like children, and they have likely gotten very accustomed to having their humans around the house all day during the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic and the introduction of vaccines, some people may be working from home for a really long time, and others will transition back to work at some point. Therefore we need to prepare our dogs for this new routine. Below are some ideas that might help you make this transition with your dog, if you must return to the office.

Slowly introduce workday routines — Schedule waking up, feeding and walking as you might for your expected workday routine, then introduce a consistent departure schedule that builds on that routine.

Practice departures — Practice short departures on a daily basis and gradually extend the time you are gone. Give a small treat just as you walk out the door to condition the dog to find it rewarding when you leave. If signs of anxiety — such as destructive activity — occur, do not punish your dog. Instead, shorten the time away and slowly build up to longer periods. Stay calm when leaving or returning home.

Exercise and play time — Before leaving, engage in play and activity. Burning energy can help keep dogs calm and relaxed.

Consider a dog walker or doggie day care — Most of our dogs have been used to being let outside by their humans for potty numerous times a day during this pandemic. So, if you introduce a new person for care of your dog, you will need to make sure that you and your dog feels comfortable and safe with this new person providing care. And, while the risk of dogs becoming infected with COVID-19 is believed to be low, as a precaution, if you intend to have a dog walker or send your dog to daycare while at work, treat your dog as you would a human family member to protect them from possible infection with COVID-19.

Keep them engaged — Long-lasting treats, food puzzles, and automatic feeders can help keep dogs occupied during the day while you are not home.

Create a safe space — If you have typically used a crate when you were gone but have not been crating your dog while at home, now is a good time to either explore not using a crate while you are away (gradually increasing the length of time you are away) or reintroduce crating while you are still working from home by making it rewarding for the dog to go into the crate for short periods of time.

Look for signs of stress — Excessive barking or whining, agitation, destructive behavior, and inappropriate urination/defecation can all be signs of stress. You may need to consult your veterinarian to figure out how to best help your dog with his/her anxiety.

A Year of Resiliance

It has been quite a year! I will never forget on March 13, 2020, Alex was sent home from school, and Doug was sent home early from work and we felt so unsure of everything. And, at that time, we had no idea what was in store for us all collectively. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in some way. Sadly, so many thousands of people have died from COVID-19. Even though it has been a tough year, with a lot of shifting living with this virus and the uncertainty of it all, some good things have come from this year. And, it feels like, with spring coming soon, along with the vaccines, that there will be a new sense of freedom without the fear of getting really sick.

During this time, we have been able to spend more time with Alex and our fur girl, Victory! Even on days Doug and I are incredibly tired from the juggle, it has been really nice to have this time together, which I will never forget. We have been able to spend a lot of time outdoors together since we had to readjust from our normal outings. Doug and I have been able to spend more time together as well, which has been really nice.

Victory seems to love us being home. She is even more attuned to us and she loves to go out with us, even in the snow this year, where she pranced around like a puppy! (Usually, during past winters, she was not a fan of the snow!) We love her so very much and she has been a real sense of comfort for us all, a constant and steady presence in our lives.

Alex has enjoyed the the extra family time together. And, she has changed in so many ways, this past year, just look at the physical changes, not to mention all of the developmental change, shown below! I cannot believe we were working on getting rid fo the paci last March! My baby girl has blossomed into a beautiful little girl! (Also, here is a link to the video of the girls, below.) We even started doing yoga together in the evenings, and Alex really enjoys it. She does a mean warrior pose, tree pose, and downward dog pose! When things are deemed “safe,” we plan to sign Alex up for some fun classes!

We have learned to live with this great uncertainty for quite awhile, and we still do not really know how things are going to look, post-COVID, as our previous normal, that we were accustomed to, will not be quite the same, I imagine. It has taught me to really readjust expectations and not really have any expectations.

This time has definitely forced us to slow down more and be more present; and I have learned not to take anything for granted. Our oven, dishwasher, and Peloton all broke during COVID. It took months to get parts and replacements due to COVID! I will never take anything for granted, even the simple things that seem so ordinary.

This time has also provided me time to finish my long-term photography project, get the images copyrighted, and to finish my proposal in preparation for submission. And, due to the pandemic, Doug was able to review everything for me, which has been incredibly helpful and insightful.

Overall, I think 2020 has forced us to consider the idea that life as we know it can shift; it can change; it can be re-imagined. And most of all, we have learned and have been forced to be resilient through it all. And, someday we will be able to share this time with Alex through photos, videos, and our memories!

March 13, 2020

March 13, 2021

Thought for the Day

Creativity — like human life itself — begins in darkness. We need to acknowledge this. All too often, we think only in terms of light: “And then the lightbulb went on and I got it!” It is true that insights may come to us as flashes. It is true that some of these flashes may be blinding. It is, however, also true that such bright ideas are preceded by a gestation period that is interior, murky, and completely necessary. —Julia Cameron, artist, author, teacher, filmmaker, composer, and journalist.

Snapshot: Winter 2021

It has been a long winter for us due to COVID, and we have greatly missed our weekend family outings together to various places this winter. We knew that this winter would be the toughest season, with a little one, due to COVID, and having limited options in order for us to all stay safe. We have made the most of our time with our little family and we spent a lot of time outside in nature and at various play grounds, trying to keep things as normal as possible. Overall, Alex and Victory have been doing well, despite limitations due to COVID. Alex is growing in every way. We have played many games in the house, which Alex loves. She loves this memory game, and she has a great memory and she has won games against Doug and myself! She also loves ‘hide and go seek!’ Alex sometimes gets impatient, while hiding, that by the time we count to 10, she is running out saying, “Find me! Find me!” It is adorable! Alex loves her books and she loves “practicing her letter and numbers,” as she calls it! This has also been the perfect time for potty training, which Alex is getting close to being fully potty trained! In addition to Alex enjoying the snow and her new sled, Victory has enjoyed the snow this year, and there appears to be a spring in her step and an “inner puppy” within her at the age of nine, as in past winters she has not really enjoyed the snow! We always shovel the snow so that Victory has a “pee pad” in the grass for her to go potty that prevents her from touching the snow! Victory is always up for an outing, as she comes running down are stairs to join us, which has been great!

I think we all are ready for spring weather, longer sunlight filled days, and our COVID vaccine! Below is a snapshot of our winter, which included celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Alex’s half birthday, and Valentine’s Day together, along with various outdoor outings and indoor games, doing our best to make the best of this COVID winter. We look forward to getting out and about more with spring weather coming soon, we hope!

Little People and the Passage of Time

I love documenting our little family; and Alex, someday, will have a treasure trove of photographs (including books of photographs) and videos to revisit and relive. She now understands, very well, that the iphone is used to take photos and videos. Currently, while I try and take a video, Alex tells me, “I want to see! I want to see!” and she also says, “No photos today, Mama!” making it difficult to take videos and photos of her even though Alex thoroughly enjoys looking at videos and photographs of herself. I am grateful to be able to document this time together, especially during this pandemic, that seemingly feels endless some days, especially during this winter.

Recently, I was looking back at photos of Alex when she was a baby. It seemed so long ago, but not so long ago all at once. (I am not sure if there is a term for this feeling.) At the time, the sleepless nights seemed endless, the teething seemed like it would last forever…and then poof, it was over. All of these little physical, development, cognitive, and emotional changes happen right before our very eyes, but we cannot always see the changes until we look back. Similar to how things in life somehow make more sense after we look back and reflect on them. Something heartbreaking that I realized, too, is that as your child grows, those past versions of them fade away. While we are so fortunate and very grateful to have a healthy child, who is developing and growing up, each day, month, and year with her feels like a gift and theft simultaneously. So, all we can do is savor these moments. Being present in it all, is the best, even during the really rough days, which we have had our fair share of during this pandemic, especially this winter. I find that I almost can take a photograph in my mind of those moments that I want to remember forever. It is quite a journey, and I would not trade it for anything.

A few images of the girls over the past two-and-a-half-years are shown below.

Victory: Integral to the Bedtime Routine

Our very sweet and beloved fur girl, Victory, is integral to our bedtime routine, and it would never be the same without her! Ever since Alex entered our lives, Victory has been right there with us, every step of the way. We are now at a point where the girls are truly bonded and Alex understands she needs to be gentle with Victory!

So, after dinner, Victory usually heads up to Alex’s room and lays down in her room until Alex is done with her bath! (I still remember initially setting up Alex’s nursery, before she was born, and Victory was a bit nervous to go into the nursery! How times have certainly changed, thankfully!) Then, after getting lotion on, teeth brushed, and pajamas on, the girls go up to see the trains with Doug, which Alex affectionally refers to as the “choo choos!” Victory usually only stays upstairs to get a few treats; then she goes back and waits for Alex in her room, as Victory does not care for the noise of the trains! Doug recently got Alex a Lionel Mickey/Minnie operating box car, which she loves from the 1990s! (A sweet video is shown below). When Doug and Alex are finished doing the trains, we all end up in Alex’s room and we play together and read books together. Of course, we all feed Victory treats, which she loves! Victory also loves licking Alex’s clean skin after her bath! At 8:00 p.m., the Hatch turns on automatically, with ocean waves, for white noise, indicating it is time for bed! Alex then immediately says, “It’s time for sleepy time!” Then everyone cleans up and Doug and Victory say goodnight and head downstairs. Alex and I read a few more books together, cuddle, whereby Alex gives the best hugs and kisses — ever, and then Alex goes down to sleep with no issue, usually!

Victory, Doug, and I usually get an hour of uninterrupted time together, and then we head to bed as well, where Victory gets lots of belly rubs before she goes to bed with us in our bed! Victory is such an integral family member, and we love her so much! We are so very fortunate that she came into our lives; this little rescue dog has stolen our hearts forever, and we fondly refer to her as, “our older daughter!”

A Splendid Song About Parenting

Have you heard the Abba song ‘My Love, My Life’? It was originally written as a love song, but in the movie, a mother and daughter sing it to each other. (The first stanza is sung from a new mother to her baby girl; and at the end, it’s sung from the same mother, who had died, to her now-adult daughter.)

I never felt this strong
I’m invincible, how could this go wrong
Now, here, here’s where we belong
I see a road ahead
I never thought I would dear to tread

Like an image passing by, my love, my life
In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life
I can see it all so clearly
All our love so dearly
Images passing by
Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life
Are the words you try to find, my love, my life
But I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You will be my love and my life
You’re my one and only

I held you close to me
Felt your heartbeat and I thought I am free
Oh yes, and as one are we
In the now I’ll be found
Nothing and no one can break this bond

Like an image passing by, my love, my life
In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life
I can see it all so clearly
All our love so dearly
Images passing by
Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life
Are the words I try to find, my love, my life
But I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You are still my love and my life

Yes, I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You are still my love and my life
You’re my one and only.

The words that especially move me are, “I know I don’t possess you; with all my heart, God bless you.” Parenting embodies that knowledge that, in the end, you must let them go but always love them so deeply.

Nine Year Blogivesary!

Today is the nine-year Blogiversary of the blog!  It is really difficult to believe that nine years have already passed by so quickly!  Where has the time gone?  Many things have changed, but some things remain the same, fortunately.  I am grateful for this little space here.

If it were not for our beloved Biscuit, I am not sure I would have ever started blogging and I know that I would not have started my long-term photography project, which I am, finally, onto submitting the work, for which Biscuit and Victory are my inspiration.  Biscuit was such a blessing and gift to us.  Biscuit permanently changed our lives in so many positive ways and he sent us our precious little rescue sheltie, Victory, who we adore and love, shown below!  We have savored our time together with Victory during the pandemic. And, coincidentally, Victory is as old as the blog!

Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been visiting!  I truly enjoy creating content for the blog to share with all of you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy visiting and reading the blog!

Thank you so very much!

The First Rescue Dog: White House

You may have already heard, but there are dogs in the White House, again, including the first rescue dog in the White House named Major, who Biden adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018! Recently, there was even an “Indoguration” for Major, which you can view here!

This positive attention on rescue dogs will help highlight that there are many abandoned dogs and other animals that are in need of homes, which is especially timely during this pandemic, as many animals have been displaced due to the current pandemic.

We will always have a rescue dog, and I cannot imagine life without a rescue dog in our lives. Our little family has gained so much from our beloved, Victory, a rescue Shetland Sheepdog, who has been a member of our family for over seven years, already, pictured below! My life has been forever changed, for the better, because of our rescue dogs. One positive aspect of the pandemic is that we are getting to spend even more time with our fur girl, Victory, which she loves as well! And, our girls are bonded for life.

If you are considering getting a dog, I highly recommend visiting your local shelter or local dog rescue groups, which can be located easily, via a Google search. There are so many dogs (and other animals) in need right now. Finally, I look forward to reading this book by Kelly Conaboy about her rescue dog, Peter, and all his lovable quirks!

Loving: Winter 2021

Happy Winter! Below are a few things I have been loving this winter, thus far!

1. Spirit Junkie Cards — I love these cards, by Gabrielle Bernstein, that I recently got, which features beautiful watercolor illustrations and empowering messages, which provides great inspiration.

2. Honeymoon Glow Serum — I have been using this serum for about a month, now. It is a night serum that hydrates and resurfaces skin. It is wonderful, with a hint of honey smell — I highly recommend this serum.

3. Hatch Baby — We got this Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-Rise for Alex, and she loves it. It contains all different types of sounds, to select from, and different color lights for night lights, which are all controlled by your phone/ipad. Alex loves the Hatch, and we love it, too, as it helps alert us all when it is time for bed/nap, along with a light color change to alert Alex when it is ok to get up! It is great! And, as an added bonus, we are getting a little extra sleep!

4. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May — I began reading this book recently, after listening to a podcast. May explores how we relate to the painful periods in our lives —and what we can gain from normalizing the need to rest and tend to our wounds. May shares what changed for her when she allowed herself to see sadness as a need and not something to run from. For example, it helped her stop feeling addicted to productivity and busyness and begin to let go of the need to control everything. “We have got to stop feeling responsible for controlling our lives because that attempt is devastating us,” she says. “And it’s a lie—we just cannot do it.” 

5. Boll and Branch Sheets  — I had heard really good reviews of these sheets, for some time, and I decided to get a set for us, recently, and I absolutely love them! They are the best sheets I have ever slept on! I think we are both sleeping better at night, as a result! I highly recommend.

6. Hanna Anderson Unders—  We recently started potty training, and I love these underwear, and so does Alex! They hold up well, just like their clothes line, and they are super soft and comfortable.

You can view other things I love here!