Pandemic Pups: Easing the Transition to a “New Normal”

March 9, 2021 by Ally Donnelly

The Aylwards are busy. Well, they used to be. Before Covid it was a constant juggle. Mom Kristin is a special education teacher in Brockton, Dad Michael has a thriving law practice in Quincy and teens Madison and Jeremy were always on the go with high school sports and friends. Sixteen-year-old Maddie had been begging her parents for a dog for years, but the answer was always no.

Who would be home to walk the dog, feed the dog, give the dog the attention a dog needs? “We’ve had lots of different pets,” Kristin Aylward said. “We had a rabbit for nine years. We've had parakeets. We've had fish, but Roo was our first dog.”

The Aylwards with their pup Roo (photo by Egle  Ruth Photography) 

Roo is a Rhodesian Ridgeback they brought home last April. “Once I realized that I was not going back to work,” Aylward said. “I figured this was the time to do it.” Roo quickly became the object of the family’s seemingly endless affection and attention. “We adore her,” Aylward said.

But next week, Aylward heads back to work full-time and the kids will soon go back to full-time school. That will leave Roo home alone more than ever before. “Roo is used to us all being here, pretty much 24/7.” Aylward said. “She's attached to us, especially me, I can't even leave the room for two seconds without her crying and looking for me, so.”

Roo's first birthday

So— like many other families, they’re anxious about how to prepare their pup and themselves for more distance.

“I'm very worried about what she's gonna be like when we're not here all the time. We're just going to have to kind of work with her and just figure out what's gonna work best and see how long she can be here without getting too upset," shared Aylward.

Those are concerns Dr. Trish Cairns has been hearing for months. The co-chief of staff at Norwell Veterinary Hospital says from the start, they coach families to leave puppies alone for stretches of time, but not everyone listens (or can bear it).

“If your puppy is eight months old and has really never been alone,” Cairns said. “You really have to baby step them just so they can get used to it. You can't have a puppy that's never been alone and then suddenly hop on the Hingham Ferry and head off for your 10 hour shift at work.”

Dr. Trish Cairns

In this week’s episode of The Hingham ‘Cast, Dr. Cairns shares strategies on how to prepare your pet and family for a new normal. We talk separation anxiety, new puppies, old dogs, cats ––— and why you putting on a bra or zipping up pants could trigger destructive behavior (from the dog!).

You can hear the full episode by subscribing to The Hingham Cast via the following link:

1 thought on “Pandemic Pups: Easing the Transition to a “New Normal””

  1. Nice discussion Ally!
    If doing the pb trick… make sure your peanut butter does not contain xylitol. Xylitol is toxic to dog’s.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.