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Times are tough, but we’re hanging in there, in large part due to a renewed gratitude for all the positive things in our lives, like our loved ones. OK, really, we mean our pets. They’re here for us through thick and thin (mainly thicker as we head to the kitchen for another snack), and they’re loving spending so much more time with their humans as so many of us work from home. Right?

That’s exactly what we asked Ashley Paguyo, who together with her hubby, Ahmed, cofounded social media sensation Dogs of Instagram as well as online dog goods shop Lucy & Co (named for their beloved bugg — Boston Terrier/pug). She gave us the inside scoop on how our pooches are handling all this togetherness, what we can do to support them right now and if it’s OK to dress them up for Zoom calls (spoiler: YES!).

Photography by Roy Son

 Many of us are working from home right now. How is this impacting our dogs?

For better or worse, our dogs stick beside us. We humans are currently experiencing a renewed appreciation for our loyal companions as we face the fear, uncertainty and loneliness that comes with pandemic. It’s love in the time of coronavirus! There has been an uptick in pet adoption and fostering, with dogs leaving the shelter and finally making their way home. Every dog has its day, and pups are getting the recognition they deserve!

 Are they getting tired of seeing us all the time? Or going on that fifth walk of the day?

Are you getting sick of going on that fifth walk of the day?! Do you have something better to do? We’re in this together and don’t really have anywhere to run. That said, make sure your pups do have a place to run! And jump! And breathe fresh air! It’s good for them, and it’s good for you. Besides, you can exercise together but in silence, because, yes, in fact, they are sick of seeing your stupid human face and treat-less hands all the gosh darn time.

Is it true that all this togetherness could be stressing our pets out?

Everyone and everything is being impacted by the current state of the world. To think that our pets aren’t feeling that disruption and stress would discredit and ignore their deep ability to feel. Just like us, their routines and normalcy have been upended. Many of our pets had hours of the day to themselves, and now many of us are occupying their space while working from home. While that has the upside of more togetherness, it’s reminiscent of a family road trip: mostly fun, but kind of overstimulating, exhausting and claustrophobic. Especially for cats. (Cats, amirite?!)

Photography by Roy Son

Just confirming: Now is an appropriate time to dress our dogs up as our coworkers, right?

Based on my trend analysis, consensus says a resounding YES! I’m of the personal belief that pants are optional these days, but I’ve found pleasure and a sense of accomplishment in dressing my dog for success. Our online shop has seen a spike in dog apparel and accessory sales — a new raincoat for springtime walks and dressing to impress in a fresh doggy bandana on Zoom calls. I think our cabin fever has us projecting onto our dogs. I say dress your dog for the job you want and the coworkers you wish you had.

Any advice for how to best handle a canine cameo during a work Zoom call?

Lean in! Sheryl Sandberg and women may have dominated 2013, but welcome to the future! The times they are a changin’ and we were beginning to see the emergence of dog-friendly workplaces until — BOOM! — 2020 hit, and we’re now living in the era of the dog-friendliest environments.

A friendly pup will make your remote coworkers’ proverbial tails wag and help break up the awkwardness, dread and monotony of video conferences. Have a naughty pup? Or one who begs all throughout your calls? Proactively play a game of fetch leading up to call time. Or set him up with a treat he has to work at; peanut butter is great for adding challenge and buying time in the most delicious of ways.

Real talk: Are our pets judging us for that second helping of dessert or that third glass of wine?

Hey, all you cool cats and kittens! Your pets aren’t here to deliberate over Carole Baskin’s innocence or keep track of your trips to the fridge. This is a judgement-free zone, a safe space. Your dog or cat will look the other way without guilt or catcalls in exchange for a belly rub, new toy or extra helping of treats. In fact, it’s the latest in quarantine challenges: eat a treat, give a treat. Again, we’re all in this together…

In all seriousness, though, what can we do to bolster our pets’ health and happiness right now?

Normalcy and routines are being challenged, yet giving our pets a sense of stability is so helpful. To achieve this and to help establish the new norm, think: consistency, expectation and scheduling. Be consistent in what you give: daily exercise, food, attention, alone time. That will help to set expectations.

Yes, you’re home around the clock, but you’re likely not able to play nonstop while you WFH. So build out a schedule, however loose, that maintains their regular feeding schedule and approximate walk time as well as ensures intentional time together, but helps them identify the hours that you’re unavailable and on the clock. These are not normal times, but our pets and their stresses still need to be acknowledged. So extra snuggles and indulgent playtime are totally encouraged and mutually beneficial. Oh! And all those fancy Alison Roman recipes you’ve been trying out? Maybe throw your dog a bone and slip them a special treat here and there.

And finally, what are some of your favorite nonprofits that animal lovers can support right now?

I’m a fan of Secondhand HoundsUnderdog Rescue and Safe Hands Rescue. They are all organizations that foster, meaning the animals don’t have to self-isolate, so to speak, but can wait it out in a loving home. You can support by giving a monetary gift, applying to become a foster, adopting a furry soulmate, or by liking and sharing their posts on social media. We don’t deserve a pet’s unconditional love, but we certainly can turn our focus toward celebrating it in these trying times!

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