Plague puppies finally leave the house when their people start going to school, the office and vacations. And it’s a wild world out there.
Day care dogs have full capacity, with long waiting lists of months. Dog walkers have a shortage, and those who are still at work are welcome when they are juggling customer schedules that are out of the ordinary. The boarding facilities are also full, which means that pet parents have a hard time accommodating their dogs when planning long summer trips. All of this change leads to severe separation anxiety for puppies and their parents.
“When people started realizing they could travel, our boarding house blossomed to a level we couldn’t really cope with,” said Tania Eisenstein, owner of Camp Canine in Manhattan, which offers day care, grooming and boarding. The daycare, which began to see a peak in the business community in early summer, now includes a waiting list of 150 dogs.
“The planners put their dogs in well before they had to go back to work,” Eisenstein said. “We’re getting calls from people who need to go back to work next week.”
The plague began with a historic run on puppy options, as Americans last year looked at their blank calendars and unlimited lock-in period, and decided there was no time like now to bring home a four-legged friend. For several months this generation of pets crawled at the feet of their lone owners and experienced a puppy that was unlike any other. No one went anywhere. Ever. The walk took place three, sometimes four times a day. The hugs were almost constant. And many of these puppies have barely encountered anyone outside their home.
But this summer, as vaccination rates rose and restaurants, hotels and the office waved, many pet parents told them the truth about keeping a dog: Someone needs to take care of yours if you are going to be home all day.
Of course some owners had to figure out these details months ago, as first-rate workers had never worked remotely. And forward-thinking people were quick to register their dogs in a daycare center or have a dog walker, knowing that they would eventually need a routine again. But new pet parents have not had to deal with this logistics until recently. Now, as they prepare for a life that may eventually resemble something called busy, they discover that they have no treadmills or daycare centers in their rolodexes. Similar to finding yeast in April or toilet paper in March last year, it is increasingly difficult to find available therapists.
Wendy Sheehan Donnell, who lives in South Orange, New Jersey, began looking for places to get on her one-year-old pug, Yoshi, in June, two months before the family vacation in August. All the places she called said they were invited until September.
“Everyone in these cities is getting new dogs, and you can’t get anywhere,” said Donnell, editor of PCMag.com. Finally, a friend gave her a tip for a dog job in nearby Applewood. “I stopped going in with her a moment before she closed the doors to someone else,” she said.
With a fall and back to the office on the horizon, Donnell realizes that she probably needs to start figuring out who will go to Yoshi when she starts traveling again. But since her schedule is still uncertain, she’s just starting to think about it.
For dog walkers, all of this uncertainty has turned scheduling into a tetris game, with customers calling on Sunday night and asking for a walk on Monday, or just needing irregular care. Although their needs may be consistent, they still often want to be consistent with their pets and ask for the same walker every time.
“It’s really hard for us to say ‘this person is available for all your needs,’ because it’s just unrealistic,” said Danny Pedreza, owner of Big City Woof Walker, a dog walking service. York and Chicago. “It’s hard for them to understand.”
Pedreza said that due to staff shortages she was sometimes forced to disrupt trips, something that had never happened before the plague. On the other hand, customers have become accustomed to living in a world where goods and services do not always arrive on time. They are more patient than before the plague, when many would call if the treadmill was even a minute late.
Once the dogs leave the house, their new caregiver fights with a generation of puppies with weak social skills. Many of them were born into a locked world and missed opportunities to socialize. If no one knocks on the door, how will a dog know not to lose his mind when a stranger enters his empty apartment, harnesses his collar and takes him for a walk with dozens of other polished puppies? Pedreza said one of her walkers had recently left an apartment because the dog would not stop barking and growling.
If dog trainers were too busy in 2020 with new owners hoping to teach their puppies the basic way, 2021 is about teaching them not to digest when everyone leaves. Lonely children destroy boards, sofas and bark so much that neighbors call to complain.
“People who do not even know their dogs have separation anxiety will leave for eight hours in September, and their dogs will get along,” said Holly Santana, dog training director at Dog Done Good, a dog trainer in Westchester, New York.
People are also worried. Caring for dogs provide more dinner calls from the ultra-Orthodox owners and ask to see photos and videos of their pets at stake.
“People have a lot more anxiety than pets,” says Eisenstein of Canine Camp. Many of the dogs are puppies, so they want to play with other puppies. They come in and have only one ball. ”
A few weeks ago, Grace Townsend, who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, went with her boyfriend and their 7-month-old Portuguese Water Dog, Chirio, to a friend’s birthday party in Hoboken. They left Chirio behind in the box and spent most of their time worrying about her safety.
“I thought ‘Oh my God.’ The cake hasn’t come out yet. Should I leave? ‘
Townsend recently began looking for a dog walker because its company plans to return to a hybrid schedule in September. Most of the travelers she found were welcome. Finally she turned to bark buildings, a dog service that operated in her building. Now Chirio is going on a regular dinner outing with the Walker Buildings in the Landscapes.
Townsend wonders if she will take care of that too. “You feel so guilty about having a dog and not hanging out with them. Why do I pay someone to go and walk with my dog when I’m home?” She said.
But Cherio loves the attention. And eventually Townsend will someday leave the house without his dog.
This article was originally published in the New York Times.