As we all try to adapt to life indoors, fresh challenges are being thrown our way daily. And for those who have a dog, their one form of exercise a day has to be walking the hound. Here’s how some devoted owners are coping.
We’ve all seen a gazillion images of people spending time with their pets on social media while they’re stuck at home – and it seems like the perfect distraction. But what is the reality of looking after a dog when time outside is so limited? Here are some thoughts from Culture Trip’s team of canine carers.
Lucie Phillips is the proud owner of mixed-breed Harry, a 15-month-old pup who was rescued from the streets of Romania. For Lucie, director of operations, escaping to the country – she recently moved to Balcombe, West Sussex – has worked out well. “I have a lot more space for walking, with a lot fewer people around,” she says. “I can also share the dog-walking load with my other half. Harry is a pretty energetic pup, so my husband and I have to walk him separately so he can get two one-hour walks a day. ”
Older dogs prefer set routines, and this period of change has seen different changes being made to daily life for owners and pets alike.
Renee Bowden, part of Culture Trip’s recruitment team, has also been heeding government advice. She takes Marco, 9, a Cairn terrier-poodle cross, for a walk once a day. Renee highlights one of the other benefits of owning a dog right now. “Dogs are naturally in the present, so watching them run around helps you think the same, and it puts a smile on your face. It also forces you to go outside, when you might otherwise sit inside on a cold day.”
Commissioning editor Freya Godfrey has created a new routine for her miniature Schnauzer, Alfie, 6, but is eager to follow the government guidelines on busy periods. “We’ve been avoiding busy times recently, but there aren’t really any in our area now,” she says. “We tend to avoid dog-walkers anyway, as Alfie isn’t very friendly towards other dogs, but as dogs like to get together and aren’t very good at social distancing, we’re having to make an extra effort.”
Many people have spoken about wanting to get a dog during this period of indefinite lockdown. Naomi Malik, director of community, recently brought Zola, a spritely 10-week-old Eurasier, to her forever home. Although only a puppy, like all dogs, Zola needs to get out regularly.
“Zola hasn’t had all her vaccinations so she’s not allowed to walk on pavements yet,” Naomi says. “At the moment, we carry her in a little pouch on our daily walks, so she gets exposure to her new environment. Hers is a fairly large breed so it will become much more challenging for us if we can’t vaccinate her soon. Vets have been advised to cancel non-urgent treatment during this period, understandably.”
Resident wellbeing practitioner Nora Lubberich has kept the Culture Trip office active with her regular online yoga classes. Taking Shlomi, 2, her Pekingese-pug cross, for walks gives her the chance to get out of the house. “It forces me to go out and get some fresh air. I also use the time to listen to podcasts,” she says. “You get your daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D – and the dog always cheers you up. Plus he never complains about your Netflix choices.”
Tempting as it is to approach a cute canine in the park, it’s important to remember to keep your distance during the Covid-19 outbreak. “I’ve had to politely sidestep a few outstretched arms when I’m out on a walk with Zola,” says Naomi. “You’d be surprised how quickly people forget social distancing when there’s a puppy in sight.”