As an agency of pet lovers, we’re lucky to work with amazing brands like Tails.com. Our Head of B2B, Nicole Alston, shares what life is like in isolation with her two Great Danes.
At Thinking Hat, we’re now into our sixth week of working remotely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Our humble abodes have become workspaces, and we’re sharing this space with a unique combination of pets, partners, children, parents, siblings and house mates. Some of us have moved in with family members, others have remained in London. But one thing we all have in common is that we’re working from the place we call home.
That means my husband and I have two new colleagues: Ernest and Cecily, our three-and-half-year-old Great Danes. Weighing up to 155 pounds and standing 1.8m meters on their hind legs, these siblings have travelled a long way with us – all the way from Johannesburg in South Africa to South West London, where we now live.
I have taken occupancy of the dining room table as my workstation, and to my left Ernest and Cecily are asleep in the sun. During a difficult period for everybody, these beautiful, occasionally clumsy, and always affectionate creatures have become perfect workmates. Here’s why…
Start the day on the right foot
Routine, structure and good habits are all essential to keep us sane during social distancing. As we already work remotely on Fridays at Thinking Hat, I was lucky that my home working routine simply became my new daily routine.
The dogs start stirring around 6am most days, and while this can be challenging on the weekend, it can be a godsend on workdays – a natural alarm clock!
My husband and I take advantage of this every morning by walking the dogs in the beautiful open space near our home. I love getting a daily dose of fresh air, spending quality time together and watching the dogs run and play.
They’re a joy to watch: Ernest loves chasing tennis balls and bunny hops when he gets excited, while Cecily is prone to chewing sticks and rolling on her back in long grass.
By the time we return home, I have plenty of time left for some human exercise, chores and my morning routine before sitting down with a cup of tea to tackle the workday.
Peace and quiet during the day
Despite being giant-breed dogs, Great Danes do impressively well in small spaces like our mid-terraced house. That’s because they spend most of their lives asleep. Once they’ve been walked, fed and watered, Ernest and Cecily commit wholeheartedly to a full day of sleeping.
Apart from swapping beds or chasing squirrels in their dreams, the dogs barely move during the day.
However, this peace is broken when they engage in real life squirrel chasing. Cecily lifts one heavy eyelid open long enough to spot a small animal through the window – and the adventure begins!
At this point she releases a small bark to Ernest, who wakes up with a fright. On cue, I swiftly remove any obstacles within arm’s reach and brace myself for the inevitable bounding, sliding and howling that ensues as they tear through the giant doggy door and into the garden.
By the time this dramatic display of energy has played out, the offending creature is long gone and the dogs saunter back inside to resume a heavy day’s sleep.
A clear end to the workday
One of the challenges of working from home is knowing when to bring the day to a close – especially now that the clocks have changed and the evenings are brighter.
However, our two pooches are wired to wake up again between 5-6pm every evening. When this happens, Cecily assumes the role of ‘pest’, and paws me until she receives my full attention. Being rather tall, she is not easy to ignore. I give in and sit with her on the couch. Ernest quickly joins, sitting on my other side, draping his long body across the two of us.
When work calls, from this position I can open my laptop and balance it on Ernest, typing with one hand and scratching Cecily’s ear with the other. That’s what you call multi-tasking! For the dogs at least, this is all very normal.
A constant source of companionship
As we all navigate these strange and difficult times, there is always a lingering sense of sadness, coupled with feelings of uncertainty. It’s totally natural to feel that way.
I’ve noticed that the dogs, especially Ernest, pick up on my emotions, and so I’m forced to be brave – which I’m thankful for.
While I love working from home, I really miss our vibrant work environment and spending time with my colleagues, especially the regular belly laughs we have together. However, my Great Danes – with their quirky personalities and general goofiness – are not only proving to be good company, but rather entertaining as well.
In addition to giving the best cuddles ever, Ernest is particularly gentle and caring. When I attempt morning Pilates on the living room rug, he comes to check on me, hovering over my face with his drippy nose and a concerned expression. Cecily, meanwhile, will do anything for a spot of sunshine, even if it means squeezing into a small corner of Ernie’s dog bed with her long limbs.
Naturally, however, there are downsides to recruiting two Great Danes as colleagues.
Cecily demands tummy tickles – which make her fart. Ernest has been caught belching loudly more than once. And they both snore – loudly. This can be terribly awkward during work calls.
But like most dog lovers, any bad smells or noises are a small price to pay for the wonderful, uplifting company of Ernest and Cecily.