by Alby, Puplic Health Consultant at Furtin University


Alby gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Ellen Hart, Chief of Pats Provision, in preparing this article.

Hi, my name is Albert and I’m a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic WA recovery. My human went from being home like all the time to only being around on the weekends again. It’s been ruff.

One day a few months ago mum was home on a day she isn’t usually around. I thought at first it might be like when she gets the nose drips and stays home all day but then it happened again the next day, and the next, and then the next! Mum was suddenly home all the time and it was pawsome! She did spend a lot of time in the small room staring at the black rectangle thing and talking loudly at it but she was home! I felt like I was living in Barkingham Palace - cuddles any time I wanted, mum was throwing the round bouncer for me all the time, and I was getting more walks during the day - it was the total cat’s biscuits.

Alby bio pic

Then, suddenly, one day it was all over. Mum was back at work 35 days a week! She said it was only five days but she wasn’t factoring in dog years. Suddenly there were no more tug of wars, no walks after lunch, and no more snoozles on the human sleeping mat – it was very hard to stay pawsitive.

Once I realised what was happening I gave some of my friends a bork on the old dog and bone to see if they had any advice. Luna the Goldie said the same thing had started happening with her human. She had tried everything; eating her human’s clothes, refusing to go outside, and putting muddy paws on her sleeping mat. But nothing worked.

Herbie the Schnauzer’s tail was not wagging either. He said he just got his human into a good 3pm dinnertime routine when it had all suddenly changed. He tried to make it clear how much he disapproved but his human chose to ignore his very understandable feelings on the matter.

Joey the Border Collie told me that he’d been trying to stay active through a new healthy and fun activity – digging. For some reason this always made his human start howling. He also said that one of his mini-humans kept trying to communicate something and although he didn’t understand his barkalect he was pretty sure it was about him. It sounded something like “what do you call a dog left home all day with nothing to do?’ A bored-er collie. Get it?”

Luna with muddy paws
Herbie is annoyed
Joey has taken up digging

I knew I had to try and fix this. I sat mum down and let her know that even though she’d gone back to work it is was important for me not to wag on my health goals. Keeping up my exercise is really important because I spend so much time sitting during the day. Too much sitting time would make me feel bad to the bone.

After our chat things have really started to change. Mum has started taking me for a walk each day in the morning before I settle down for a hard day of snoozles. During the day I make sure I regularly stretch out so I can keep flexible (I think I’ve really nailed downward-me). As soon as I hear the car pull up I remind mum about going for an afternoon walk to the park so I can have a run around with the round bouncer which is my favourite! She is always wagging her tail afterwards – I think it makes her feel good too. Sometimes she even takes me to the sandy wet salt splash pool which is also my favourite!

Alby exercising
Alby doga

Mum has been giving me lots of vegies and fruit to munch on, which are also my favourite! I like broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, and strawberries. Sometimes she adds them to my other food and it fills my bowl right up to the top. But don’t you dare try and give me spinach – I’ve been fooled by that before.

Luna and Herbie said they’d had a bork with their humans and they’re now in a regular walk routine. Joey has even discovered that he can walk his humans by holding the leash which is a real game changer (although Herbie said to remind everyone not to forget their hat). So I guess things worked out okay in the end now that we’re all getting into a new routine. Anyway, gotta go, a cat just snuck into our front yard and I need to go have a stern bork at it from a safe distance, which is also my favourite!

Luna goes for a walk in the bush
Herbie wears his hat
Joey takes his humans for a walk

Alby’s top 5 tips for a healthy return to work that will also make humans feel wonder-fur-l.

  • Get some movement into your day, every day. Whether you’re chasing your tail, doing step ups onto the human sleeping mat, or stretching your upper body to lick that crumb off the table – every bit counts.
  • Remember to pack healthy snacks. Snacks are my favourite! Peanut butter, cucumber, cat biscuits - all good options.
  • Try to break up sitting time. When I stand, sit, drop, stand, sit, drop, I usually get a treat so maybe try that?
  • Find movement where you usually wouldn’t. Walk from one napping spot to another or roll around on the grass instead of just laying on it. Any activity is better than nothing.
  • Drink plenty of water. My water bowl is always miraculously full of water, maybe you could get a magic water bowl for your desk?

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