Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Paw-ternity Leave Is On The Table

Late last month, our local news station, WFSB, published an article about "Meternity Leave."  No, that's not a typo. Meternity Leave is a fairly new concept that would allow women to have all the benefits of Maternity Leave without actually having a baby. Less than a week later, WFSB published an article focusing on another form of leave. Take a guess.

The article introduced "Paw-ternity Leave for Pet Owners."  According to the article, this is gaining some momentum in the UK and a few companies are offering their employees paid time off so they can take care of their pets.

Eyes. Wide. Opened. 

In the middle of the article, there's an image and caption from a New York Post writer. She quotes, "While my co-workers with kids walk out the door at 6 p.m., no one seems to care that I also have a child at home waiting for dinner." She's referring to her cat, Jameson.

Obviously, the first thing that came to mind, after reading the short article about Paw-ternity leave, was our kids. The big question surfaced.

What if I didn't work at home?

When we adopted Coco, he was very sick. Within a day or so after adopting him, we cancelled all of our plans for the month to follow.

Shortly after Sophie joined our family, we learned she was terrified of thunderstorms. Really. Really. Terrified. To the point where our summer activities revolved around the weather. If they called for thunderstorms, one of us, or both, stayed home.

And, Lobo. He arrived at our home as a foster the day after surgery to remove one of his hind legs. His other hind leg has limited mobility. We knew our life would change even more after we adopted him. We also had his anxiety to contend with.

I work at home. I get very little sleep and my sleep times are flexible. We didn't think twice. I was always home. Lisa took over, once home from work, so I could get some sleep.

If I didn't work from home, things would have been challenging. We would have alternated taking time off.

Would that have been enough?

About a month after we adopted Sophie, Lisa and I were running errands when a storm hit. It was one of those freak pop up storms. We rushed home. Couldn't find Sophie.

We panicked. 

We checked every possible nook and cranny. Or, so we thought. She had gotten up into our sofa. She was shaking.

I could spend the entire evening listing things that we needed to be home for. Storms. Tummy issues. When Coco had a minor blockage in his intestine. Sophie's oral surgery. Lobo's limited mobility, especially when his single hind leg tires out.

What if I didn't work at home?

I think about all the times we've had to leave gatherings, events and other functions early because of storms or it was time to feed the kids. Or, simply because we don't like to leave the kids home alone for more than a few hours.

Some people understand. Others roll their eyes and say, "They're just dogs. They'll be fine."

Would this be the same reaction if our kids were human?

I'm getting off track.

So, Paw-ternity Leave. My take?

I'm all for it.

Too often, I hear, "I'd love to adopt a dog, but I wouldn't be home during the day or evening the first week or so while they adjust and get used to things. I don't want to leave them alone that long during the transition period."

Or, I hear stories about pet parents who's fur-kids have fallen ill or have been injured. They need immediate medical attention and 'round the clock care during recovery.

The critics say, "Take a vacation. Use your vacation time."

But, what if an employee doesn't have vacation time?

What about parents who adopt human children?

What about foster parents of human children?

What about foster parents of fur-children?

What if someone is fostering a pup who's about ready to give birth?

What if someone adopts a pup from a shelter and wants to be home for a couple of weeks?

So many questions.

I'm not saying Maternity Leave is a vacation. Not by any means.

Going through everything we have with our kids wasn't a vacation.

Should paid leave be offered to the not-so-conventional situations?

Is non-conventional even the right word?

Your thoughts?

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