Working from home can be a lonely experience and working from home on a PhD thesis is an even lonelier one. Tea for one, lunch for one, hiding in a blanket fort for one. When I started working from home regularly I had hope that the quiet work space would focus my mind, which it did, but mostly towards lists of single lonely things.

Lots of people have pets to keep them company (admittedly some pets achieve this more than others… awesome as they are, I doubt a stick insect will really help you feel less alone) but pets (mostly) require 24/7 care or at least consideration, a fair whack of money (ex-PhD student: I don’t have any of this), and generally can be a bit of a tie (ex-PhD student: I have narrowed down where I can live to somewhere in the world where there is a job).

So if you’re working from home but don’t want to commit to your own pet, or aren’t allowed one (possibly because of over-hugging), why not borrow a dog for the day like I did earlier this week?

Dogsitting is the perfect accompaniment for PhD thesis writing. For a start by temporarily having a dog I can now take a break from my thesis to help explain why they are amazing. So here’s a list of the ways in which dog sitting makes your day SO much more interesting than working at your desk by yourself.

1. Belly rubs

Frequent breaks for Doggo belly rubs. When you attempt to leave to get back to work, Doggo looks sad/taps you gently with her paw/smacks you a bit harder with paw until you commit to more belly rubs. Repeat ~4 times until you finally retreat to your desk.

2. Teaching experience

Multiple failed attempts to try teach Doggo a new trick to impress owners when they come pick her up. End result: Doggo very happy with many treats, but owners nonplussed with your ‘progress’.

3. Fake poop anxiety

Mild but constant worry that Doggo has weed/pooped on your carpet, your imagination running wild with all sorts of nasty smells and stains, resulting in many trips to the room where Doggo is, making Doggo excited to see you and thus making it very difficult to leave again.

4. Horror movie noise maker

Freezing every time you hear a noise, trying to work out if Doggo is scratching her way through your kitchen cabinets or chewing your sofa. Sneak downstairs to find out, Doggo is just quietly sitting but spots you peering round the door… return to point #1.

5. Walks! (and actual poop)

Doggo walks. Praising Doggo for nice poops and wees until the 15th time we’ve stopped, because surely you cannot have any more in you.

6. Eating superior food

Lunchtime. The pure joy that your cheesy pasta must taste SO much better than Doggo’s dry biscuits. Sorry, Doggo, you ain’t gettin’ none.

7. Surprise stair entertainment

Suddenly hearing a loud clatter and seeing a face appear at the door of the study. Turns out Doggo CAN navigate your really steep stairs.

8. Dog vanity

Discovering that Doggo has never seen herself in a mirror before when you hear excited woofing from the bedroom. Seems that Doggo likes strutting her stuff around your sunny bedroom. The bedroom door stays firmly shut for the rest of the day.

9. Acceptance of co-dependance

Seeing the look of joy on Doggo’s face when you move her basket, and then her food bowl, then her water bowl, and then her toy to the study where you are. Doggo just wants to be near you.

10. Soothing looks

The comfort when, after a long snooze, Doggo gets up and puts her head on your knee, and looks at you with her big brown eyes. She doesn’t understand the pain of working on your PhD thesis, but she is trying darn hard to make you feel better anyway.


It’s sad when Doggo leaves. You report to her owners that she was good, no weeing or pooping inside, no scratching, and ate all of her biscuity lunch. Doggo goes out the door without a backward glance.

The house feels empty and quiet… but at least you have some peace to get on with some thesis work now.

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Christopher Riches · 8 November 2017 at 23:47

All of this applies equally well to Doggo owners, who occasionally work from home – the theory of achieving a good work/Doggo balance rarely stands up to the practicalities of providing those belly rubs…

There should be a database to match up lonely Doggoes with PhD writers!

    Michelle Reeve · 3 December 2017 at 21:16

    Haha! Yes very true. Ohh yes that would be an awesome database!!

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