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Working with pets December 6, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff.

Working from home as a translator presents all kinds of challenges: Do you call or email your client? Do you get up and shower or work all day in your pajamas? Do you feel guilty when you go to the grocery store at 10:00 a.m. the day before a holiday to beat the crush of pre-holiday meal preparation? But, for me, the greatest challenge is working around animals.

Being home all day, every day is very conducive to pet ownership. Most office drones don’t have that luxury and envy us. We don’t have to make sure someone is home in eight hours to let the dog out, and we can take the pets to the vet in the middle of the day if needed.

Having a pet can be very rewarding. I find it especially helpful, because it forces me to get away from my computer to take a walk or clean up after her. My white, fluffy dog is especially good at going out into the backyard and rolling in something dark and stinky, so that also forces me to bathe at least once a day, if not more.

Another bonus is that I actually meet my neighbors while walking the dog. I lived in my old apartment for three years before I got my dog and didn’t know any of my neighbors because I was holed up in the house all day and night. That changed as soon as I got Lily. We suddenly knew everyone and would have doggie play dates and walks with the Golden Retriever across the street.

I found having one pet wasn’t enough, so when my dog found a starving kitten in the backyard last summer we took her in to join our pack. Now Bailey helps me translate by walking or laying across my keyboard and adding brand-new words or deleting whole paragraphs because she is hungry or bored. I do occasionally throw her out of the office when I am doing something that requires focus, like balancing my accounts or credit card statements, and she stands at the door plaintively wailing her dissatisfaction while the dog scratches at it. This ensures that I finish as quickly as possible to restore some peace. As soon as I finish and open the door, the cat and dog both come bounding in to rejoin me, and all is forgiven.

You need to have a sense of humor if you have pets as coworkers – and a watchful eye. My cat especially loves checking out whatever beverage I am enjoying by pulling the glass down for an eye-level view. I have to anticipate her moves to ensure I don’t suddenly have a waterlogged keyboard.

I’ve come to rely on my pets to keep me company and to offer the occasional (much-appreciated) distraction. There is nothing more relaxing in the middle of a particularly stressful day than having to take a break to rub my cat’s tummy or throw my dog’s sheep down the hallway for a game of Fetch. Now if you’ll excuse me, the dog park is calling…

Update: This post was my contribution to Alejandro Moreno-Ramos’ book. Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation is now available for purchase for just €19.95. I can’t wait to receive my copy! Now if you’ll excuse me, my coffee is calling…



1. patenttranslator - December 6, 2011

You forgot the picture of the dog and cat!

But you can still fix that.

Working around one’s children is much more complicated. In fact, it is so complicated that I was renting an office for 10 years when our children were small.

Jill (@bonnjill) - December 6, 2011

Good suggestion, Steve! I hadn’t even thought to include photos. That oversight is now rectified!

2. Therese - December 6, 2011

When I had a large CRT monitor, my cats would sleep on top. One day one of my cats rolled over in her sleep, fell off, and knocked my glass of water across a dictionary, while I was on the phone to a client. My cats weren’t happy when I got a flat panel monitor. I love having them around.

Jill (@bonnjill) - December 6, 2011

I had to finally elevate my flat panel monitor using 5 hardcover books, since Bailey loves standing or sitting right in front of it to get my attention.

3. mfdanis - December 6, 2011

Translators have the cutest pets*!

*see Lily & Bailey (Jill Sommer), Ringo (Emily Tietze), and Patouti (May Fung Danis).

4. cristinadogmad - December 12, 2011

One of my clients sent me this link and told me he was sure I would feel identified… I am a translator, I work from home, in a big house in the country. I spend lots of hours at home and there is plenty of room, so, I keep saying to myself: “one more will not make much of a difference…” So now, it is 4 dogs asking for their walkies in the mountain and 3 cats looking for warmth lying on my keyboard and “inventing” lovely new words for me! You can see pics of some of them in my flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cristinadogmad/

5. Aleksandra - December 13, 2011

Thank you for this lovely post! And thanks for the pictures, your pets are adorable!

Me and husband had a dog and a cat few years ago and at that time, we both worked at home. While the dog was always around me, scratching my leg to get me to play with him or barking when it was a cuddle time, the cat was quietly sleeping under my husbands chair. We really enjoyed this time of our lives. We moved to another city because we got jobs that requires working closely with other team members in an office. We moved Toby (the dog) and Marco (the cat) to my parents home and now they get to play and cuddle all day long with them. So both pets and parents re not so lonely when I’m not around. Sometimes I miss them so hard, but fortunately we often go and visit them and fool around like we used to.

6. Kya Ora - March 29, 2012

I get the dog to do the filing and the cat takes care of the phone, but he’s ambitious and keeps hounding me for a promotion.

7. Crystal W. (@EatDrinkClev) - September 7, 2012

This is a GREAT post – love it! I know my pooch loves me working from home…but she normally sleeps all day. BUT – as soon as I have to leave she acts like she’s abused and neglected – ha ha! love the pics – I’m so glad you added them.

8. Ana Iaria - September 7, 2012

They are the best work colleagues ever. Wouldn’t trade them to work in the poshest office in the world. Those welcome interruptions by Lord George of Armani wanting to come on my lap and the purring of Lord Winston Ludovico are the best way to stave off stress!!!

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