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Raising A Puppy Through COVID-19, Q+A With Hayden Vest

COVID-19 has presented a perfect opportunity to introduce a new pet into your life. Pets can provide lots of positive mental and emotional support, especially right now, but you need to be aware that they are a lifelong commitment. RSPCA Canberra have said their animal adoption rates have nearly doubled since the pandemic began, because people have more time to devote to their pets while in isolation. However, there are growing concerns about how these pets will adjust, when their new families go back to work.

Hayden Vest is 23 years old and moved out of his childhood home a few months ago. When he was growing up, Hayden always had dogs in the house, so once he left home he decided to adopt a dog for himself, for company and support. The dog he adopted is Byron, who is a border collie puppy and is now 14 weeks old. Hayden got Byron only days before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and has had to raise his new puppy in incredibly unusual circumstances.


Q: If you had known COVID-19 was about to happen, would you still have adopted Byron?
A: Yes, getting him was a great idea. I’ve really enjoyed having him around the house, he has really helped keep up my spirits while stuck at home. Definitely happy to have him during this time.

Q: Does Byron motivate you to exercise more during COVID-19?
A: Yes, he requires plenty of playtime so I make sure to walk him often and tire him out by playing with him. He has motivated me to run when I haven’t been in the mood. My fitness has been thankful for him.

Q: How do you balance working from home and looking out for Byron?
A: When I first got him I didn’t have a doggy door, so I had to clean up his wees and poos during the day. Now he is a really good listener and will sit in his bed for most of the day, next to my desk. If he is a real pain I will give him a pig’s ear to entertain him. He has also helped during my time being stuck at home because I see myself as a really social person in the workplace, having him around feels like I have a work colleague at home.

Q: Long term, do you think Byron will be okay when you go back to work?
A: I think he will be fine after a small adjustment period. He is fine at the moment when I leave the house, but he gets very excited when I get home again.

Q: What are you thinking of doing to ease Byron into being home alone for long periods of time?
A: I’ll probably get him some toys that provide longer entertainment, like kongs with treats inside. Also I think I’ll introduce morning walks to provide him with something that will tire him out more for the long day.

Q: Normally do you take new dogs to puppy school?
A: I would have maybe thought about it, but he is very smart and already quite obedient.

Q: Have you had to do much research into how to train Byron?
A: I’ve always had dogs so I’m pretty confident with training, I do a Google search here and there to help. I enjoy teaching him new tricks and he takes to them very quickly, the vet has been very impressed with his training.

Q: Has having a puppy helped you mentally/emotionally adjust to the changes caused by COVID-19?
A: It definitely helps to have him around the house just to have another presence, some company. I don’t feel as isolated or crazy for talking out loud. He keeps me entertained and comforts me when I’m feeling lonely and isolated.

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