OCA wellbeing: Pets
At the beginning of the academic year, staff at OCA were tasked with coming up with a wellbeing objective for ourselves. Mine was to bring my dog to work every once in a while, one pandemic later and I am smashing it!
Meet Enzo, he is a six year old chihuahua shih tzu cross. His hairstyle has been likened to Trump and Johnson, he has no sense of personal space, has selective hearing and sulks if he doesn’t get his way (much like his lookalike counterparts…).
I have settled reasonably well into life in lockdown and I think it’s largely to do with my furry companion. I’ve kept my normal routine of getting up and walking to work, which currently means taking Enzo out and looping back home to log on. He then spends the next few hours on his back, legs akimbo and snoring. Enzo has made an appearance on the odd zoom call and interrupted a couple with the incessant squeaking of toys. At the end of the day I get out my exercise bike and cycle home. These set actions have helped maintain a sense of normalcy and a definitive separation of my work day and my home life.
It is widely documented that pets are good for your wellbeing. The mental health foundation list some of the reasons why;
- For companionship – offering a sense of security and routine to counteract loneliness. They love you unconditionally and are always happy to see you.
- For motivation – when you have a dog, you have to walk them, this promotes exercise and exercise is great for your mental health.
- For calming – stroking your pet relaxes the mind.
- For socialisation – there is an unwritten rule whereby dog people talk to other dog people. Although I sometimes have a tendency to say hello to the dog and ignore their human.
- And keeping pets has been shown to be beneficial to those with Alzeimhers, ADHD and autism.
The flip side of spending all this extra time with let’s face it; our favourite family member, is as we return to going back out to work it may well have an adverse effect on our pets. For Enzo, before lockdown he had a routine of being with various family members and their dogs throughout the week, so whilst he isn’t left alone at any point, I imagine not being with us at home will unsettle him as he adjusts back to normality.
The RSPCA offers some advice on preparing your pet for when you go back to work. The key message is to introduce change gradually and to adjust routine to as close as possible to what it will be, for example walks, feeding and time alone.
I would love to hear about your pets and their quirks.