There are many of us who rely on pets in our freelance lives. From battling the isolation of working at home to giving our daily routine some balance.
It might sound silly, but my dogs are a huge part of my freelance life. I thought I’d try to explain why.
Introducing my freelance pets
They often say a dog is a man’s best friend. Well, I have 2 of them.
George is 4. He’s a grumpy little sod and doesn’t like change. But he LOVES his ball. So much so that if you say ‘ball’ out loud he will suddenly appear with one. Even when you think you’ve hidden them all.
Fred is 2. My wife picked the name. She likes Harry Potter. He’s the nicest, softest dog you’ll ever meet. His dream day is a lazy morning, long walk in the afternoon and an evening in front of the fire.
We also have a lodger called Denzel. My wife’s choice when we first moved in together. We endure each other. The cat, not my wife. He gets on well with the dogs I suppose. He doesn’t do much apart from ruin the carpets.
What I learn from them about freelancing
George is our miracle dog. When he was only a few months old he ate his puppy pad and spent a week at the vets. Before his third op we were told there was a good chance he wouldn’t pull through. It’s the only time I can remember crying as an adult. I never cry.
He got through the op and made a full recovery. But it didn’t happen overnight. It took time. To me George is a constant reminder never to give up and to keep going.
And from a practical point of view, I think my tears also had something to do with the vet bill. Another important freelance lesson – get some insurance!
Fred joined us when he was 6 months old. He was being trained to be a police sniffer dog but failed to make the grade. We naively thought the standards must be high and we’d be getting a well-behaved dog. We were wrong. What we actually got was a very nice dog with so much enthusiasm for sniffing that he forgot to listen. I’m guessing that’s why he failed.
Fred represents the importance of listening. Enthusiasm isn’t enough. It doesn’t mean we have to listen and act on everything. But no matter how hard you work, if you’re not prepared to listen to others there’s every chance you could get lost along the way.
Denzel is a cat. He’s selfish. All take, no give. That’s not how to freelance.
How they make a difference to my freelance life
The loneliness and isolation of freelance life is well documented. Quite often the dogs are my only daytime company. They may not be humans but as office companions go, they’re up there.
To be honest, it’s just nice having them around the house. They get so excited when I go downstairs to make a brew. I’ve been known to talk to them too. We all do that, right?
The biggest benefit to me and my work is, without doubt, that they make me get out of the house.
A long lunchtime walk with Fred and George is probably my favourite thing about being freelance. I’ll usually stick a podcast on and head out into the hills for an hour or so. It breaks my day up nicely and I’ve never been very productive in the early afternoon anyway.
It’s widely regarded that there are a range of physical and mental health benefits to having a dog. I can vouch for many of these.
I’m not sure but if I’m being picky, they can be a bit needy.
Fred usually pops up to the office late morning and tries to distract me. He’s worked out that if he puts his paw on my keyboard it annoys me. He then stares at the front door until I take them for a walk which can be distracting (unless you have a heart of stone).
Skype and client calls can be interesting too. I try to avoid them around the time I know the postman usually delivers. A low point was definitely the time that the window cleaner turned up unannounced while I was on a call. Carnage.
The future of freelancing with pets?
I’ve been tentatively looking into the idea of co-working spaces. But are Fred and George ready?
The short answer is no. Great dogs, but not very obedient.
If you can sit at the dining table, why can’t we?
You’re not going to come down and stroke us? No problem, we’re very bouncy, we’ll come up to you.
There isn’t a huge choice of co-working spaces near me and I’m not sure that what I really want actually exists.
In my head there’s a co-working space just for freelancers with pets. Dogs playing together all day in some kind of creche with a big outside area. Not having to worry whether your dog is annoying someone because everyone loves dogs. Group dog walks at lunchtimes. That would be the dream.
I’m not realistically looking for a co-working space anytime soon, but if you are then WeWork has been recommended on Twitter as having dog-friendly options.
What would freelance life be like without my pets?
This will sound over-the-top, but I truly believe I wouldn’t have taken to freelancing the way I have so far if it wasn’t for having Fred and George around.
They help stave off the loneliness and isolation and force me to get out and take a break. They’re also a reminder of why I went freelance. I wanted to spend more time at home and swap a commute for dog walks.
And there’s something to be said for having these 2 faces around the office every day.