Who knew that the world would face such a time of fear and lockdowns, where everyone is trying to stay healthy; at the same time make a living to survive during lockdowns. Thanks to the technology that we can still connect with everyone and work from home, as well as socialize with our near and dear ones.
From the past one year, Video calls (predominantly over Zoom), and meetings have played a very important role in our lives. Most of us were pretty new to working from home and didn’t know much about how to go about with it. Phone calls, emails, and, messages worked fine even when there was no lockdown. But when indoors, how do we conduct meetings or share a virtual get-together with our family and friends! Besides the practical use, there were many who were even shy to be on camera compared to personal visits.
Well, I had a different problem. Not just that I was new to Zoom, but so was Junior. He just couldn’t grasp the concept of someone talking back on the call with their face being seen. Also, sometimes he looked traumatized seeing his Mumma laugh like a maniac along with the various people on the call.
Dogs recognize voices, and are far more responsive to tone of voice than specific words. So initially when I had Zoom family meetings, I kept my phone or laptop on speaker, Junior would hear various voices and get confused. He would hear people call his name, but wonder where they were coming from. I would even show him the screen, but since he was never used to technology, he didn’t quite understand what was happening.
It was funny, as well as confusing. Since these Zoom calls were totally new for Junior, he would do anything in his power to get my attention. He would keep patting his paw on me or start barking or circling around and whine or take something in his mouth which he knew he shouldn’t. He basically protested towards Zoom calls.
I knew I had to do something, as I had no other option since we were in the lockdown. So, I observed Junior when I had a Zoom call next and tried to understand his trigger. His first trigger was voices of different people coming from a device which he didn’t understand and not physically seeing anyone. So I started using earphones even on my laptop. His second trigger was everyone calling out his name. Now, since I already started using earphones, that issue was also solved and I would tell everyone on the call to give Junior some room to get used to the new normal.
Then, came a behavior that I had to correct of mine towards Junior. Earlier when Junior would act up, I would push him away. Pushing him away didn’t work at all and technically wasn’t the right correction technique. So next time when I got a call, and Junior started throwing tantrums, I ignored him. I did not push him away. I simply ignored him. And when he calmed down, I gave him a treat.
Slowly, I started introducing Junior to the device. My parents were always eager to see Junior and I had to find a middle way to get this worked out. Besides my parents, my extended family, friends and colleagues too wanted to see Junior. So I introduced treats training i.e. every time I would call Junior and he would come, I gave him a small treat. Then I made him sniff my phone/laptop and gave him a treat. Then I removed my earphones and introduced him to others voices one by one, and when he didn’t bark or act up, I gave him a treat.
Within a few days, Junior was doing just fine with the calls. But here’s a catch. Dogs are so smart as we all know, so is Junior. He started looking forward for Zoom calls now, because, he knew he would get a treat……ha ha ha ha!
Here’s another funny part. After Junior got used to Zoom calls, and he was done with his treats process, he would just go about doing his own thing. Once, he farted and I was on a work call. I wanted to laugh out loud but couldn’t. The way I controlled myself, I only know. Another example, yesterday I had a work Zoom calls, and Junior grabbed the broom from the maid and started running around in the house. The tug-of-war for the broom between my maid and Junior was a sight to see. But again, I couldn’t burst out laughing as I had a work call going on.
Besides his funny incidents, in and out throughout the calls, Junior would come every few minutes and poke his nose. Honestly, it’s the best and the cutest thing. Out of nowhere, he will come to me, lick me, poke his nose, put his paws on my legs or shoulder and go away.
What a journey it has been. Last year this time the whole world was under lockdown and we expected all this to end in a few months. But This year, we are again in a second lockdown and back to working from home or socializing from home. It’s really a blessing to have Junior with me who has never let me slip into loneliness. And of course, his funny, but innocent behavior is something that I will always look forward to in every Zoom call.