update: asking to work from home with a new puppy

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer who wanted to ask to work from home with her new puppy (#2 at the link)? Here’s the update.

Given how much our work from home and flexible schedule perspectives have shifted during the pandemic, I thought I’d provide an update on my post from summer 2019. Seems like I wrote it in another world. Which is true in more ways than one:

The truth is I was unhappy in my marriage and unhappy at the corporate job I was in at the time. In many ways it felt like my happiness hinged on the new puppy- an unhealthy attitude in retrospect, perhaps, but one that ultimately turned out to be true…I’ve left that marriage and that job, and my dog is the absolute joy of my life. (She’s almost 2!)

Here’s how it went down: We wound up not bringing home a dog that summer because the litter we’d planned on purchasing from didn’t pan out, as the mama dog didn’t get pregnant. I quit the corporate job that august with no backup plan due to other issues, most of them stemming from how corporate and not-creative the workplace was. I worked retail (in a bookstore) from October 2019 to March 2020 (which I truly can’t recommend enough for someone disheartened by overly bureaucratic environments, the fulfillment I got from dealing with customers 1-1 and having set tasks to complete rather than pushing paper was really healing). In winter 2019 We brought home our puppy, which worked out perfectly with my flexible schedule at the bookstore so I could be home with her to acclimate her to the city environment and train her through the holidays.

And then March 2020 hit, and I was laid off from the bookstore due to COVID shutdowns. My marriage, already on the brink, teetered over the edge. It was a dark, dark time. But I had my dog! I wouldn’t have been able to survive it without her. But of course now that I was getting divorced I needed a job. In a pandemic. Yikes.

I got lucky: Since June 2020 I’ve been at my new job as a director within a small startup with ample PTO and, of course, flextime that already existed pre-pandemic but has transformed into a “work from home as much/as often as you need it because who knows when these variants will stop ruining our lives” mentality. There’s an office if we want to go in, which I do sometimes, and it’s pet friendly so a few of us bring our dogs! It’s a real pet-owner culture at the company too, which I appreciate. I’ve made new (human) friends during a difficult time in my life and have been promoted multiple times, now managing a team of two.

So, ultimately, a happy resolution to a controversial topic: the corporate job and marriage were mistakes, but the puppy was perfectly timed! Thank you for all you do.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

      1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

        We don’t deserve you, and this community warms my cold little heart. As does the puppy pic.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        She’s adorable, I’d want to stay home with her, too! I’m glad you’re in a better place, OP!

      3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        Thank you, Alison and team, for all you do to brighten our lives. And thank you, OP, for helping us truly understand how awesome this puppy is and how much you needed to be with her! Best of good fortune to you.

        1. JessaB*

          Yes, yes, yes. She is the most goodest girl, the best best little pupper. I am so glad the OP got her, and got to keep her when things went south.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Hahaha I came to the post after the pic had been posted and my first thought was, “I’m glad the LW and Alison knew this was the most important part of the update!”

    2. Morning reader*

      I see it now, what an adorable baby! Those eyes. Dogs will get you through times of no ….. better than …. Will get you through times of no dogs.

  1. Not really a Waitress*

    This makes me happy. For you and your puppy. I got a puppy right after my ex husband and I separated. He is 9 years old now and my baby! My kids are mostly grown now but my dog is my constant companion. I cannot take him to work unfortunately (he wishes I could) but there is nothing better for your self esteem then coming home from work and having him miss me so much!!!

    1. Merci Dee*

      Isn’t it just the best to come home to a pet?

      I have a cat, and every evening when I pull into the driveway, I can see his sweet little face peeking out of the front window until he knows it’s my car turning in . . . then he disappears from the back of the couch, and when I get to the side door, he’s waiting there for me with his little tail twitching to tell me hello. I love it so much!

      1. Jackalope*

        We have four cats and I’ve been working from home since the pandemic started so we’ve had lots of time together. The past two weeks I’ve been super busy and out of the house a lot, and every night when I come home I have four kitties waiting for me at the door. When my husband has been awake (I’ve had fairly late nights so he isn’t always) he knows I’ve made it home just by the Great Migration to the front door.

      2. MillenniOwl*

        My three are always waiting for me to come in the door as well, especially Mittens, the one I’ve had the longest. Even if the other two are sleeping or otherwise occupied, Mittens is always at the door.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My husband works from home now, but when he worked onsite, my dog could somehow tell when the car door closing was HIS vs someone else’s in our cul-de-sac. If it was anyone else (including our housemate who parked in the same driveway as husband), she’d be all WUFF WUFF WUFF! but if it was husband, she’d grab a favorite toy and meet him at the door all frantic excited wiggles.

      4. That One Person*

        I love it. Since getting her my kitty loves greeting me at the door, though admittedly it’s a little rougher since we’ve gotten a puppy (who I think is getting into his teenager phase). He’s pretty excitable still and also tries to convince her to play so when he comes quickly trotting/hopping along (because all that excitement seems to literally put a bounce into his step) she tries to either get up or moves a room over to happily observe my homecoming.

    2. Artemesia*

      So glad you did this and it worked out. I almost didn’t get pregnant with my second child because of where I was in the tenure track and the risk it would be — but then decided this is more important than anything else and conceived my daughter — then my college merged, my department and many others were eliminated as duplicates of the new place and I was 7 mos pregnant with no job beyond the next year. That baby made it all okay and 40 years later and two grandchildren later is the best thing that ever happened in my life. The career sorted out fine.

      Glad your puppy is a good friend and is there after the crappy job and the crappy marriage. Sometimes you have to go with the thing you know you really want.

  2. Heffalump*

    I’m a cat person, but that’s a cute puppy!

    Years ago I got a kitten after being dumped by the woman who was the great love of my life up to that point. The family had had cats when I was growing up. I liked them well enough but didn’t really consider them my cats. This was the first time I made a conscious decision as an adult to get a cat. The kitten (later cat) and I had almost 18 years together. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

  3. Popinki*

    PUPPY! She looks like a stuffed animal she’s so floofy those big brown eyes and floopy ears and I bet she’s the best girl ever, yes she is! <3

    OP, I'm very happy that you are in a better place, not only with your job, but relationship and pupster as well.

  4. Salad Daisy*

    I cannot imagine how people without pets survived during the lockdown last year, and it looks like we are in for another one. Nothing like cats meowing and dogs barking to make a Zoom call more interesting.

    1. Veryanon*

      I have a rescue dog that we had adopted before the pandemic, and she became my co-worker once I transitioned to working at home full time. Best good girl ever.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I adopted my dog (just out of puppyhood) two days before the first lockdown here. He came unintended into my life, I was actually waiting for my cat to leave us before adopting any other animals, because she’s never enjoyed any company, but he needed a home and my daughter campaigned very hard for me to take him in since her BF turned out to be allergic to him. I was hoping to have a very gradual adoption, to acclimatise the cat, but the young girl who had him before was frightened we’d have a Wuhan-style lockdown without being able to walk the dog, and we at least had a garden he could play in, so we took him in.
        Turned out walking the dog was considered a legitimate reason to go out even after curfew, so in fact having the dog meant I was able to get a lot more fresh air and sunshine than non-dog owners.
        As I didn’t have very much work at all, he was my main focus then, and has continued to be my main source of joy throughout these tough times.

    2. Wine Not Whine*

      I was owned by cats for much of my life, but in the last few years I’ve had practical reasons not to have one. While I did seriously consider adopting or fostering during the shutdown, in reality, those reasons haven’t changed.
      And to be completely honest, if a bit of a downer: I live solo. If I catch a bad enough case of the ‘Rona to be hospitalized or worse, that’s at least one worry I wouldn’t have and one less burden on my friends.

    3. Popinki*

      And in the case of cats, walking across the keyboard and messing up your screen, and mooning the camera.

    4. Constance Lloyd*

      My rental company doesn’t allow pets and live too far from family to safely see my favorite humans. I grew up with cats and dogs at all times so this is honestly really hard! I’m not looking forward to another winter of it, but my partner and I make do with lots of tea and scrabble. We also go for lots of walks and sometimes strangers’ dogs will smile at us OR pull on their leash to try to come say hi, and when that happens we talk about it for days. So thank you to everybody walking your dogs this winter!

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        Yes! I had my first successful houseplant during the pandemic. I adopted a 2-foot tall fiddle leaf fig in January 2019. It is now taller than I am. I’ve never been able to keep even a cactus alive for more than a month or two, so watching this thing periodically sprout new leaves that quickly became bigger than my own face has probably done the legwork of keeping me sane.

        1. Silvercat*

          Cactus are a lot harder that people realize!

          It sounds like the fiddle leaf fig is perfect for you

    5. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      There are days, it’s all of them really, that my AM walk with our dog is the only reason I put on clothes when I get out of bed. She’s the best.

    1. fullaboti*

      I’m really glad I saw the photo. Otherwise I would have thought you had a capybara as a pet and would be insanely jealous. :-)

  5. Voluptuousfire*

    OMG!!!!! Love her so much! I also adore King Charles Cavalier spaniels. They’re so cute and jaunty.

    Years ago during a beach boardwalk visit on a very warm day in March, I met two King Charles Cavalier spaniel pup brothers. They were adorable and kept bumping each other out of the way for my attention. It was so stinking cute!

  6. my roflcopter goes soi soi soi*

    One postive of covid is that I got to get our new pup off to a good start as well. I’ll be back onsite more in 2022, assuming we don’t go back to remote work thanks to omicron. Puppies are a HUGE hassle but so worth it.

    1. RunShaker*

      definitely. currently training 4 1/2 month old puppies (2). We’ve been having a trying time potty training one of them. But this has been a positive as well with WFH & being able to have time to train properly & balance work.

  7. AnonInCanada*

    I’m happy that everything worked out for you, you’ve got rid of the dead weights in your life and …

    … PUPPY! She’s such a cutie! What a wonderful early Christmas present to share with all of us!

  8. RunShaker*

    Your pup is adorable! One good thing with WFH due to COVID is that we were able to foster a pregnant dog that was on euthanasia list. She had 8 puppies & we kept 2. Momma & other pups were adopted out by rescue. I have to say training has been trying with one of pups. I agree with OP that dog (or cat, or another type of pet) can be bright, wonderful light in a dark world. I’m happy everything worked out for you!

  9. Introvert girl*

    This warms my heart. I also managed to survive the pandemic madness thanks to my dog. I now have a new job working from home. My dog loves it. And the midday walk has a real positive effect on my work.

  10. Pandemic Dogs Club*

    I brought home a dog on the day my state shut down — it was a foster situation that was planned before we knew a shutdown was coming, it was just delayed because of out of town travel (the last normal thing I did in 2020) and scheduled spay. She got a *very wrong* sense of what to expect from life in this house, of course, and demonstrated some separation anxiety behaviors when everything opened up and our time out of the house became longer and more frequent. Regardless, she’s pretty damn great and, unsurprisingly, we also joined the Foster Failure Club.

  11. Llama Zoomer*

    This puppy, my goodness. Just want to squeeze her and pet on the couch all day. Work, whatever! We just had to say goodbye to our 14 year old dog that we got as a puppy — I’m so grateful we got to spend the last 18 months with her at home, she was extra spoiled – as were we with all of her love. <3

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I second this request. I even have pictures of my adolescent dog chewing on my now- deceased office chair, so there is a vague work at home connection!

  12. Hope this helps*

    ADORABLE!! I know Alison is on vacation, and we have lots of updates going on, but I really, really, hope we have another call for our animal coworkers again. I loved all the dogs, cats, small mammals, reptiles, and even bugs – it was such a pick me up.

  13. Bucky Barnes*

    “which I truly can’t recommend enough for someone disheartened by overly bureaucratic environments, the fulfillment I got from dealing with customers 1-1 and having set tasks to complete rather than pushing paper was really healing”

    Honestly, this right here is why I was desperate to work retail a couple of years back when I was in a really bad place in an office job. I couldn’t get anything completed due to the bureaucracy and I just wanted something where I could get tasks completed each day. I totally get this.

    And your dog is adorable.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I tell people regularly that if retail/customer service paid decently, scheduled predictable hours consistently, and offered benefits, I’d go back to that in a heart beat. I excel in customer service skills. I like my admin/office manager work well enough, but I’d happily take care of people if it was valued the way I value my time.

    1. allathian*

      Or if you shop, make sure you pick a reputable breeder. Some people want a pet that hasn’t been traumatized by awful experiences in the past, and that’s a perfectly legitimate wish. Some people want a show dog, and that’s also a legitimate wish, but that does require getting the dog from a breeder with all the breeding certificates, etc. and paying quite a lot of money.

      Certainly shelters are far too full, and if you can adopt a pet from a shelter, or help socialize abused and probably traumatized animals by fostering, by all means do so. But it’s not the only responsible way to become a pet owner by any means.

  14. squirreltooth*

    A cav is worth everything—they’re truly some of the best, most loving dogs. Mine is one of the joys of my life (though he’d be a mess if I stopped working from home; they’re truly Velcro dogs).

  15. cactus lady*

    Congratulations! I too got a puppy right before COVID and it coincided with me splitting from my ex. Puppies are the best!

  16. Puppy OP*

    Thanks for all the support for me and the pup! The update to the update (sent in September) is I’ve been promoted again at this job, raising my income by 25% in less than 18 months. Never did I imagine that would be possible in my corporate path. Sometimes you have to burn it all down to find where you were meant to be. I hope this update gives hope to people who, like me, thought they weren’t emotionally/psychologically cut out for the way work is modeled for young people in America. It is possible to find fulfilling, creative, and lucrative work that doesn’t feel like you’re selling your soul away and waiting to die. :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, you sound so good here, you came back even stronger. I am sorry for all that you went through but I am so very happy for you now.

  17. Exhausted Trope*

    Be still my heart…. That puppy is too adorable! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  18. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    1. Your pup is adorable.
    2. In my in-between year of changing careers (if you can call it that, I was a relatively recent graduate as it was!) and starting graduate school in my new field, I worked 2 jobs, one of which was part time at a large bookstore. (The other was a full time, not very well-paid job, but it had benefits and it was relatively low stress if quite boring and my boss was not really a good manager.) I LOVED THAT BOOKSTORE JOB. Every once in a while I dealt with cranky or problematic customers, but it was not the norm. And though this particular store was part of a larger national chain, the local management was just really, really terrific and supportive. They were actually better to me when my grandfather passed away than the full time job with benefits!

    1. allathian*

      I worked retail as a student and for a while after getting my degree, and out of all the service jobs I ever did, the bookshop was definitely the most fun thing to do. We also got a significant discount on books, and first dibs on new arrivals.

  19. Elizabeth West*


    I’m so glad you made it through all that and found a decent job, OP. I hope I can find one with such a good attitude about keeping people safe. (A dog-friendly office, with rules, would also be nice, heh heh.)

    Give that baby a pat for us!

  20. Yessica Haircut*

    Wow, this update really reminded me of how much the world has changed in a short time! I have a clear memory of reading this initial letter and (with apologies to OP) thinking that asking to WFH for a new puppy would be very unusual and likely to reflect poorly on OP. Now, reading this in late 2021, that seems like a perfectly normal/reasonable request, and I can’t put myself back in my old mindset where I thought otherwise!

  21. Anonymous Bosch*

    Possibly the cutest puppy ever!

    King Charles Cavaliers tend to be one of those breeds that remain close to puppy cute even after they are fully grown.

    They also have a reputation for being even tempered little sweethearts. No king would want a snappy or bitey animal as their lap dog.

    Congrats on new job, new life. I love a happy ending.

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