Four-Legged Distractions

Four-Legged Distractions


shutterstock_229733416It is time that I introduce all of you to the newest member of my family. Riley Belkin Gelb is the 7-month-old wheaten terrier puppy who has been doing his best to keep me from writing this (or anything else for that matter) by licking my fingers whenever I start to type.

A lot of attention has been given to the challenges of balancing work and children. What about the challenge of balancing work and pets? When I first began writing from home, I felt guilt every time I shooed my children out of the office. But I stood firm, determined to draw the line between home and work. Now it is Riley who wants attention during work hours, and I find I have no backbone at all. My older son’s room was painted recently so Evan spent a night sleeping on the pull-out sofa next to my desk. The dog came in the next morning and decided he really liked the new arrangement. We now call it Riley’s bed, and he sits on it all day, like a pampered pasha, taking up both physical and psychic space.

I’m told that there are dogs who help their humans work. Jeff Steen, a management consultant in San Francisco, uses his Jake, a 16-month-old mix of Labrador retriever and Rhodesian Ridgeback, in place of a clock. The two are at their desk (one in front of it, the other under it) by 8 a.m. Then, at 4 p.m., Mr. Steen says, Jake’s ”job is to make me take a break” so that Jake can take a walk. At about 7 p.m. ”he makes certain that I know it is time for play by placing his toy ever so gently in my crotch. ”That is kind of like the old whistle in the factory that signals the end of the shift.”

Not Riley. Although quite organized (he places all his chew toys within reach on his oversized bed) and well versed in the ways of modern communication (he jumps up and heads for the door every time America Online says ”Goodbye”), he would not qualify as anyone’s idea of an executive assistant. In the time it took me to write these paragraphs he whimpered to be let out three times. When we came back in from the last (unproductive) walk, he sneaked a pen off the desk and ate it. READ MORE