Chesterton Tribune



Duneland's cats and dogs adjust to new working conditions

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of nonessential face-to-face businesses and sent droves of essential workers to their home offices and living rooms, cats and dogs are suddenly finding themselves tasked with helping their humans work.

The Chesterton Tribune asked Duneland residents how their pets are coping with these new working conditions. The conclusion: cats and dogs across Duneland have been working their little paws off. They deserve promotions at once--and treats.

Those of us with animals have always wondered what they do when we’re away, and though we will never know for sure, this new era of social distancing has already shown us that some of Duneland’s furry residents have been harboring essential, marketable skills.

Take Sally, for instance. Sally is an 8-year-old male tuxedo cat who has proven to be an apparent veteran Communications Specialist since he joined mom Miranda Morley on a Zoom call last week. Morley, a Chesterton small business owner who also works for Hammond-based coworking company GreenCOW, said she’s learned Sally is also very knowledgeable about work-life balance, nutrition, and entertainment.

“He routinely tries to sit on my keyboard to keep me from working too hard. He’s also concerned with my diet since I’ve been staying in so much, so he graciously offers to consume anything I bring back to my desk to snack on,” Morley said.

“Occasionally, he and his brother Ginger feel it’s time for me to relax, so they put on a show of chasing each other around the room. He’s really quite helpful. I don’t know how I got anything done without him,” she added.

Not everyone is enjoying the same level of productivity from their furry companions, however. Local author and Purdue University Northwest continuing lecturer Heather Augustyn has continued working toward her Ph.D. during the statewide stay-at-home order. Her 14-year-old orange and white cat Dude, the Big Meowski, has offered to help her study Cicero’s “De Oratore”, but promptly got bored and stopped for a snooze on her laptop.

I’m not the HR department, so I’ll assume Dude had a solid reason to sleep--perhaps he thinks Cicero’s famous dialogue, penned in 55 BC was “before cats” and, thus, an epic yawn.

Augustyn said it’s no surprise Dude is slacking off, since he’s always been cantankerous. “Dude is a pretty unfriendly cat and super independent, so having a moment like this where he curls up on my lap, purrs, and falls asleep is pretty rare. It usually lasts about 15 minutes and then he gets irked and tries to claw me,” Augustyn said.

Augustyn reported her 4-year-old German Shepherd/Great Pyrenees mix Milo helps her study, but Rascal the chiweenie (Dachshund / Chihuahua mix), who favors Augustyn’s son Frank, has not been helpful and “just barks at anything that moves.”

Meanwhile, Stephanie Kuziela, accountant for the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Committee, reported her 5-year-old Pit Bull/Lab mix Zosia has been a dedicated Personal Trainer--reminding her when to take breaks and get outside.

Zosia has even been working on her own fitness goals as well as nudging her Mom. “She absolutely hates my work headset since it has a microphone piece to it,” Kuziela said, “Once she sees it, she runs out of the room.”

Kuziela said Zosia has otherwise been adjusting well to the new work-from-home routine and enjoys sleeping in later and spending more time outdoors. “When she’s not outside, she really doesn’t leave my side--unless she’s giving me the stink eye across the room because I can’t play with her,” Kuziela said.

Thievery is afoot at the Nevers household where Chesterton Tribune Senior Reporter Kevin Nevers had his office chair stolen by 8-year-old orange tabby cat Butterscotch. Luckily, 17-year-old Senior Nevers House Manager Marty the cat stepped up as a fact checker to help Kevin bring the daily news to Duneland.

Meredith Nevers, aquatic ecologist for the United States Geological Survey, has been getting moral support and tech help from Butterscotch’s brother Lucky. Meredith said the four Nevers cats miss their solitude, but enjoy the new overabundance of warm office chairs at home. Kirby, the grumpiest Nevers cat, is apparently awaiting his unemployment check, as he’s the only one who remains uninvolved in work.

I type these last words as my 2-year-old tuxedo cat Angel, a known stage five clinger, begs me to take a break and hold her like a baby. Duneland’s pets are a talented bunch--no doubt. The Chesterton Tribune will be featuring more photos of Duneland’s essential furry workers in the coming days.




Posted 4/16/2020




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