For pet owners, working from home during the pandemic means dealing with cats running around on computer keyboards during Zoom meetings and dogs barking on phone calls.
Most people don’t care: they love comedic relief.
Maureen Harty’s 11-year-old White Shepherd Eoghan has become an honorary member of the task force.
For the past 20 months, Harty, executive director of an NCAA Division III varsity athletic conference, has spent much of her days on Zoom calls with officials in Illinois and Wisconsin.
She hosts videoconferences from the sofa. Beside him is Eoghan (Gaelic for Owen), whom a conference official dubbed “the canine commissioner”.
“Everyone takes it without hesitation. Nobody is even confused by it anymore,” said the Mount Prospect resident.
Eoghan helps Harty maintain work-life balance. For example, when a call lasts too long for his liking, he sniffs Harty’s face as a cue to end it.
“He has become quite the character,” she said.
Eoghan isn’t the only pet to make a good impression on Zoom.
Rebecca Kwasigroch’s cats Puck and Gully have devised particularly inventive antics to grab their owner’s attention during working hours.
Rebecca Kwasigroch’s cats, Puck, left, and Gully often block her Zoom meetings at her Rolling Meadows home.
-Paul Valade | Staff photographer
Last summer, she was in her basement office for a video conference when the door to a tall cabinet opened and Puck stepped out, surprising the Rolling Meadows wife and colleagues.
“I saw the door open. All of a sudden this black fur ball flies away,” she said.
Since then, 15-year-old Gully has been cutting business-related Zoom calls. Gully accesses Kwasigroch’s office by jumping onto a shelf, crawling between the ceiling tiles and into the closet from which she jumps into the room.
Kwasigroch usually warns his colleagues that a flying feline can interrupt calls. Now they are looking forward to it, she said.
When it comes to spending time with his humans, Jabba the Bulldog is nothing but fair, dividing his day between Nikki Kozlowski and her husband, who both worked from their home in Schaumburg during the pandemic.
Jabba’s loud snoring on Zoom calls prompted colleagues from Nikki and Greg Kozlowski to ask if anyone on the video conference had fallen asleep.
– Courtesy of Nikki Kozlowski
Named after the “Star Wars” character Jabba the Hutt, the 5.5-year-old English Bulldog charges into the room like a bull, Kozlowski said.
“He doesn’t have manners that are conducive to corporate culture,” she said, referring to Jabba’s occasional gas and loud snoring that prompted one of her husband’s coworkers to ask if anyone. one fell asleep during the call.
Mickey Mantas understands the challenge of owning a vocal pet. Bella, her 10 month old Labrador / Golden Retriever mix, has a pirate voice and an equally distinctive burp. Mantas says chatting about pets, like sharing stories about children, creates a bond between coworkers.
“It’s a way to get to know each other since we are all far apart,” she said.
Mickey Mantas adopted Bella from Wright Way Rescue in Skokie earlier this year. Since then, the 10 month old puppy has been the Arlington Heights wife’s loyal working companion.
– Karie Angell Luc / for the Daily Herald
The occasional interruption related to Bella makes everyone laugh on the video conference, Mantas said. Having a pet is a healthy diversion, she said, as it requires her to step away from the laptop several times a day.
“It brings the anxiety level down a few notches,” she said.
Belching aside, the Wright Way Rescue pup is a pleasant work companion, the Arlington Heights resident said.
“She’s not disruptive. She listens and she behaves well,” she said.
Not all animals are so well behaved. Take for example Barbara-Angel, Jackie Gray’s pussy, known as Bad Girl. About seven years ago, Gray was working remotely when Bad Girl walked on the laptop, pressed ctrl + P, and printed 800 pages from a cat food account the grocery consultant was working on. .
“Back then, I didn’t have a separate office in my house,” Gray said. “Now yes.”
Jackie Gray’s cat Barbara-Angel, also known as Bad Girl, once hit ctrl + P on the laptop, printing an 800-page document.
– Courtesy of Jackie Gray
Years later, gaining access to Gray’s office, the 12-year-old cat still wreaks havoc when she wants attention, shutting down her owner’s laptop or meowing during phone calls. In response, Gray offers a warning to his colleagues: “If you hear anything, it’s my cat is losing her mind because she can’t come in here,” said Gray, who was less tolerant of people. noisy pets before the pandemic.
“As a boss, I was less forgiving,” she said. “It’s very different today.”
Like Gray, first-time cat owner Samantha Farejowicz struggles to pull 2-year-old Cheeto away from the laptop, which he has inadvertently locked multiple times. It is most often found curled up behind the computer.
“This is where the heat is,” she said.
Two-year-old Cheeto cuddles for a nap behind owner Samantha Farejowicz’s laptop.
– Courtesy of Samantha Farejowicz
Adopted this year, the affectionate Cheeto has been a source of amusement for Farejowicz and his colleagues. But Palatine fears he’ll feel lonely when he returns to the office, based on footage the pet cam has taken when he’s away.
“He looks sad and bored sitting in the chair he claims to be his,” said Farejowicz, who is tempted to adopt a second cat to keep him company.
Jack Lipski’s 18-month-old French Bulldog Arya finds ways to keep busy in his pet-friendly office.
– Courtesy of Jack Lipski
This is not a problem for Arya, Jack Lipski’s French bulldog. The friendly 18-month-old pooch is a regular at the dog-friendly telecommunications company where Lipski works. So far, the only problem has been during a conference call when she got her hands on a computer cable and pulled it.
Overall, when it comes to pets in the workplace, Lipski said the pros outweigh the cons, adding that the presence of dogs increases morale in the office.
“It was only praise,” he said, adding: “My colleagues tell me, ‘Make sure you bring the dog or don’t come in at all. “”