Finding comfort in the middle of a global pandemic looks different for everyone.
While some have turned to activities like baking, yoga or binge watching a favourite show, others have relied on the unconditional love and companionship provided by their furry friends, especially at a time when human-to-human interaction is limited.
This was apparent in the latest webinar from NC Development and Alumni Relations dubbed ‘Yappy
Hour.’ Co-hosted with Community Employment Services (CES), the August 12 live Zoom event provided an opportunity for NC alumni and staff, along with their four-legged companions, to socialize virtually and discuss all things dog-related. Professional dog trainer Celine Loguasto, who operates Celine’s K9 Training from her property in Niagara-on-the-Lake, joined the conversation.
“We did trivia during our last connecting-themed webinar and this time we wanted to do something fun with pets in mind,” said NC’s alumni engagement officer Jana Boniferro, whose family unit consists of Basha, an eight year old German Shepherd, and Charlie, a six year old King Cavalier Spaniel. “We’re busy taking care of our families, but we also have our fur babies too, so it’s great to get some valuable advice from someone who has been working with canines for over 25 years.”
Loguasto did just that, offering training tips and alleviating the participants’ concerns about new habits and behaviours picked up by the pups with changing household routines during the pandemic.
With new work-from-home situations, many participants have been spending more time with their dogs and have noticed patterns of attachment and separation anxiety.
Jennifer Gammon has experienced this with her 10-year-old Cockapoo Murphy. Although she began working from home long before COVID-19, she says Murphy has struggled with separation anxiety ever since and never leaves her side when they are together – she doesn’t mind the company from her trusted sidekick, though.
For those concerned about how their dogs will react when they return to work outside of the home, Loguasto put their worries at ease. She assured the group that their pups will likely go back to the routine they had before, especially older or trained ones.
Michele O’Keefe, NC’s associate director of athletics and recreation, plans to sign her six month old Shih Tzu Gwinney up for training with Loguasto. She welcomed Gwinney into her home in April for companionship and found the webinar helpful.
“I’m very new to the world of puppies and to hear from an expert like Celine as well as other dog owners made me feel better with some of the decisions I’ve made with my pup so far,” said O’Keefe. “Gwinney has been a great addition to my life and helps me get out of my head. She seems to be a happy puppy with a fun personality.”
Madison Garratt, who works at CES, has managed to find the “pawsitives” in the current situation. She has enjoyed spending more time with her two year old German Shepherd Ginny and creating special memories together. “I live near the Falls, so we’ve had a few fun photo shoots when there was literally no one there a few months ago,” she said.
It’s clear that for this group of canine enthusiasts getting through the dog days of summer, and the COVID-19 pandemic, is more tolerable with the presence of a furry friend.
“This pandemic is very serious, but if we can find silver linings in it, it’ll make it easier for all of us,” said Boniferro. “We know our fur babies are a breath of fresh air and so comforting to us, so it was nice to talk doggies for over 90 minutes!”
Development and Alumni Relations’ webinar series focuses on the three pillars of wellness, learning and connecting.
For information on upcoming offerings in the series, held bi-weekly on Wednesdays, visit NC’s alumni Facebook page here.