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Having an owner who works from home is a 'pet's dream.' But what happens when you go back to work?

Lauren Leazenby, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Working remotely during the stay-at-home order, Kelly Sorfleet moved from the city to her parents' cottage in Michigan. Her loneliness led her to take in a foster dog in late May: 2-year-old basset hound Desi.

"After fostering dogs for a while, you prepare yourself to see the dog off to a new home," she said. "With this dog, I didn't see myself letting him go, ever. Once he was here, he was here for the long haul."

Sorfleet's was a "revolving door" foster home with One Tail At A Time for a year and a half, taking in dogs one after another that would later move on to forever homes. She said she had wanted to adopt a dog, but she always had a packed schedule that was better suited to acclimating foster dogs to being on their own for an eight-hour workday.

Desi's adoption was official in June, Sorfleet said. Working remotely has given her the time to train and get to know him.

Dogs aren't the only animals benefitting from lockdown. The stay-at-home order made for the "perfect" time to adopt, said Rachel Stopchinski. She adopted Mocha -- a 2-year-old black cat -- from PAWS Chicago in May, seeking a companion for her other cat. Mocha had been at PAWS for more than two years because her epilepsy required a home that could provide a special level of care. Stopchinski, who also has epilepsy, said she connected to Mocha's story and the timing was just right.

"The idea of introducing two cats when you're working full time is really daunting," she said. "This was the perfect opportunity to finally make the leap and adopt."


Stopchinski, who is working remotely, said she will eventually have to return to her workplace. Mocha won't be alone, but she still worries her absence will be jarring for the cat who has gotten used to her being around.

Joan Harris, director of canine training and development at PAWS Chicago said having their owners around all day is a "pet's dream." She said it's understandable owners are worried about the transition back to being gone for multiple hours at a time.

Harris said owners may not know if their recently adopted pet has separation anxiety because they haven't been left alone for long periods. Symptoms of separation anxiety include barking or other vocalization, destructive behavior, shaking, salivating or self-injury. Harris recommends doing a few test runs of leaving your pet home alone for increasing stretches of time before leaving the house for full workdays.

If symptoms of separation anxiety show themselves, Harris said to contact a vet or vet behaviorist. She said dogs with severe separation anxiety may need medication.


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