My name is Aurélie and I am a photographer and content creator originally from France. Together with my husband we have a 6.5yo long haired Pembroke Welsh corgi dog called Marcel. We live in a house with a small garden on the outskirts of London.
Is it on lockdown (or any other government restrictions)?
The entire country (the UK) has been on lock down since March 23rd, having previously lived with guidelines only of social distancing for weeks ahead of the lockdown. The UK lockdown means that only people not able to work from home get to go out and everybody else should stay at home, and only travel if essential. We’re allowed to go out once a day for essential things (such as shopping for essentials, going to the vet, etc…) and once a day to exercise together with your household members or alone but not with people from outside of this (it is advised to avoid travelling to exercise, the rule of thumbs being that one should not spend more time travelling to exercise than exercising). That means that if you have a dog they can only get one proper walk a day, or more if members of the same house then it is possible to walk dogs more but separately. When outside people should stay 6ft away at least from people not from their household.
What do you do for a living?
I am a freelance family and occasions photographer and content creator, both jobs being extremely hard if not impossible to hold at the moment.
What is your normal day routine like?
On a normal day I would wake up (husband having already left home earlier for work), get ready, bring my dog Marcel to a local park for a walk, come back and have breakfast with him. Then work from home (or sometimes travel to a client), stop for a quick lunch break (and take Marcel for a potty break around the block) , go back to working until my husband comes home from work end afternoon, by which time we’d take Marcel to the park again for his second longer walk of the day. Then dinner for all of us, some time chilling, and then a quick evening potty break for Marcel before going to bed (sometimes with more work for myself). Marcel and I would also volunteer at a local hospital every other week (he is a therapy visiting dog) and go to agility training every week.
How has that changed since covid 19
Very much – both of us are out of work at the moment and we cannot walk Marcel more than once a day at the park – well we could but that would have to be done separately. Potty breaks are all done in the garden. Our local park like many does ask for dogs to be kept on lead, this is in case they’d end up in a situation where we’d have to get too close to someone else to retrieve them. We now tend to go out exercise and walk Marcel at our local park later so it is less busy. Our therapy dog visits to hospital have been stopped for a few weeks now (as the patients are elderly so particularly at risk) and agility training too.
Are you and the dog doing ok?
There are ups and down, which I think it is important to acknowledge as we live in unprecedented times with a lot of stress. Some days are very good for the humans, others less so. We tend to feel pretty useless even if we know that just respecting the rules, staying at home self distancing helps tremendously. Both my husband and I signed up to the Royal Voluntary Service so we can hopefully help others in need. Although I understand why this is being done, for the safety of all and to protect our healthcare system from being overloaded, and respect it, I miss going to the hospital and cheering up patients and staff, this cheered me up too. We should hopefully start those visits again virtually soon and I am very much looking forward to this. Agility training we both miss too as it was great for our bond and to exercise.
For Marcel I can tell that his routine has been shaken up, so we try to keep one as much as possible as it is so important for dogs. He’s picking up on our stress and worries (dogs do this a lot) and it affects his behaviour and mood. We’re enjoying the extra time together but having us both at home almost constantly means that he has become more clingy and shown some mild signs of separation anxiety, which worries me for when things go back to “normal”. As a result we started working to leave him alone again even though it is tricky with restrictions – as neither of us is working if we wanted to go exercise without him that would mean he would not get any proper walk that day. We try to leave him downstairs when we are upstairs, or inside when we are in the garden but it is just not the same. He’s super sociable and still wants to play with other dogs which isn’t recommended at the moment so he does not understand why we don’t allow him to do this now, and walking him on lead is frustrating for all of us as I feel like it’s not enough exercising for him.
At the same time I feel lucky though to have him during these trying times, they help so much and having to stick to his routine helps me too. Compared to others we do have a small garden and that I am glad we have, I’ve never been so happy to not having been able to afford somewhere closer to central London that would have meant no garden.
Top 3 tips to keep your dog engaged?
- Try to keep or give them a routine, dogs crave for this and it helps them as these must be weird times for them too, who used to sleep all day whilst humans were away.
- We went back to teaching Marcel new tricks, and reinforcing old ones, he loves his treats but because he gets less exercise we cut them in even tinier pieces or take them from his meal portions. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical one for dogs, especially those like Marcel from a working breed. We started using puzzles again, and will have an indoors (or garden) plays session or two every day – we had bought some agility equipment.
- When on walks we are extra patients and allow him to sniff around a lot more. A dog’s sense of smell is very important to them and with the current restrictions this one walk is their only occasion to “smell all the smells” and stimulate their brains in doing so. We will also take him off leash so he can release some energy and run, but only if there are no people nearby or dogs in sight.
What do you and your dog miss most under a covid world?
Definitely going to the park in more normal circumstances – meeting other people and their pups, Marcel playing with them (he gets frustrated right now and wants to go say “hi” to all the pups) and talking to their humans and petting all the dogs for myself, they make everything so much better! I also miss our therapy dog visits very much, they help me as much as they help patients and staff.