Teachers’ pets


O’Neill and his dog Nyah.

With school being online and teachers staying home 24/7, their pets are seeing a lot more of their owners than they normally would during the school year.

History teacher Jonathan York has a yellow lab named Dexter and a 20-pound Maine Coon cat named Stymie.

“Dexter likes his longer walks in the morning,” York said. “Because I’m not as rushed to get to school, he seems to know when my last class is over, knowing to ask to go on a walk.”

Spanish teacher Keith Downing has also been going on walks with his dog Elsa.

“I’ve been finding it hard to disconnect from school at 3 p.m. every day since I do not get to drive home and reflect or decompress,” Downing said. “I am using afternoon walks with Elsa to help me transition from work time to home time. She really helps me stay stress-free.”

Downing has been worried that she may develop separation anxiety with him working at home and being around her constantly. To solve that problem, he has come up with a solution.

“I keep the door closed at all times when teaching. I take her on a long walk first thing in the morning, around 6:30 a.m.,” Downing said. “After the walk, I can get ready for school and get set up at my computer for my first class. Sometimes, she still has energy and I’ll hear her squeaking toys in the other room during the middle of class.”

Staying at home has given teachers more insight into the lives of their pets.

“One thing I have noticed is how much they sleep during the day. They are both senior citizens now,” York said.

Additionally, history teacher Matthew O’Neil recently adopted a dog named Nyah.

“Nyah has been very calm during class time,” O’Neil said. “Our flexible virtual schedule has made it easy to find time to take care of her.”

During these unpredictable times, students and teachers alike can certainly take joy in the occasional pet’s appearance and sounds in online classes.

“When we go back, the boys are going to miss me,” York said.