By Tim Wieland

(CBS4) – Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado, I’ve been writing about the professional and personal challenges of covering a pandemic as well as the value of local journalism in a crisis. So as we approach a holiday weekend, I’ve selected a lighter topic — but one that is still very important to many of our journalists working in the field, at home and in our newsroom. During times of crisis, pets are often the ones we turn to for comfort. That’s certainly been true for our team — as we cover this difficult story, our pets have become an important part of our work. Over these many weeks, I’ve met them on Zoom calls, heard them in the background during interviews, and even seen a few of them on TV during live reports or anchor segments. I asked several journalists in our newsroom to share some thoughts on the role of pets in their life during this difficult time, and to share a few pictures.

Laura Phillips
Managing Editor

While my guys aren’t trained therapy dogs (they’re barely trained), just having them sit with me all day is a natural stress reducer. I’ve also found my mid-afternoon walks around the block with Tripp to be a great escape from the stress of the ever-evolving pandemic news cycle.

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I miss the energy and comradery of the newsroom. These guys make working from home a little less lonely. Though, they’re no good at answering my grammar questions.

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While at home I’ve learned that Nero, who will be 17 in June, doesn’t usually wake until 2 p.m. Then he goes back upstairs for a nap at 2:30 p.m.. He is pretty unimpressed with my work-from-home situation.

Dago Cordova
CBSN Denver Producer

When my wife and I started dating 7 years ago, she had just adopted a kitten named Hershel. I was a dog guy — and still am — but I love this crazy cat.

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During this pandemic, he will meow into the area where I’m working in and rub against my leg for pets or sit and stare probably thinking “What are you doing here all day?” Taking quick breaks to acknowledge Hershel has been a giant stress relief. Focusing on his crazy and sometimes annoying ways is almost like a deep breath. It brings a smile to my face before I have to get back at it. I’m sure all pets are a welcome relief during this time and I’m thankful for Hershel.

Karen Leigh
News Anchor

My Bernese mountain dog mix, Ally, helps me during this time because she’s the essence of sweetness. She’s gentle all the time. These pictures sum her up. Just being around her calms my spirit. And she’s so darn happy to get out and walk every morning. Her joy – brings me joy. She’s the only dog I’ve ever been around that actually “purrs” when you love on her.

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When I worked from home, it was always nice to have ally sleeping on the pillow behind me. She felt safe, and in turn, made me feel safe. Comforting for sure.

Tori Mason

Natty is a pandemic pet! I adopted her from Demi’s Animal Rescue in April. Being home has been a good opportunity to get to know each other. When there are no events happening, it’s easy to turn on Netflix and suddenly be four seasons deep into a show. Having a dog forces you to leave the house, especially when you don’t have a backyard. Natty has taken me out of the sunken place that is my apartment, and into the sunny world of Denver parks.

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Since I live near work, I bring Natty to the garage where reporters/photographers sometimes put stories together. She‘s a ray of light inside a concrete room full live trucks. Natty is named in honor of LSU’s National Championship, but you would think it’s short for Nat sound based on how much barking is heard during my Zoom interviews.

So is she helpful at work? Not really, but she sure doesn’t hurt.

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(Unless you’re a mic flag.)

Jeff Gurney
Senior Executive Producer

How could Chuk not help me cope with stress?  Look at that face!

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He is there every night when I get home and literally follows me around the house and sits by my side when I work from home. He’s like an adult baby blanket. I let Chuk comfort me. Despite any feelings I may have about the pandemic, ie: worries, frightening thoughts, insecurities — He listens with no reply needed. He’s a great listener. Chuk helps put the normalcy in “the new normal.”

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The advantage of working from home is Chuk and I get to spend extra time together in his old age. And when Chuk and I go on his extra walks, his life makes me realize that it’s the little things that matter.

Kelly Werthmann
CBSN Denver Anchor, Reporter

In a time of so much uncertainty, one thing I know is certain – my dogs are always there for me. Whether it’s playtime, snuggles or fuzzy open ears that’ll listen to me vent, Penny & Sheldon are happy to be at my side. This, of course, is true with or without a pandemic, but it’s almost as if they know their mom could use the extra support. (Apparently they think that support is best given in sloppy kisses while I workout from home.)

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Over the last two months I have experienced the entire gamut of emotions — I’d be lying if I said I haven’t broken down into tears a few times, usually as I’m heading home from a long night at the station – and no matter what, Penny & Sheldon will come running to the door as I walk in, eager to show me how much they’ve missed me. Accepting their kisses and giving them good scratches behind the ear is an instant relief from the often tough day. They surely have no idea that there is a global pandemic turning our world upside down, but they have some sort of sixth sense, I believe, to know they’re needed now more than ever as that constant, love-without-condition companion.

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The reliable (and sometimes sloppy) support from my four-legged fur babies has been a wonderful stress-reducer through this bizarre time…I honestly can’t imagine life without them.

Jaimie Goldstein
CBSN Denver Producer

My pets (I’ve got two cats and a dog) have helped me cope through this pandemic as a great distraction. Walking my dog and listening to music – literally anything other than news about the pandemic – has helped in a meditative sort of way. It’s an escape from the fact that we are in historical times. (But you’re quickly reminded when you see someone walking your direction and you take another route just to avoid them.) It’s so cliché, but the animals are always there for you. They have no idea what’s going on. When you get overwhelmed, all they want to do is be near you. I’m lucky that they all follow me from one side of the house to the other so I’m never alone. I think my cats are more sad that they have to wait for me to wash my hands when I walk in the door before I can pet them.

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Working at home is a trip all by itself. It’s different. It’s something we never expected working in news. So to be home with them makes the day a little easier. I get to hang out with them all day. My one cat Bijou loves boxes, and one day I happened to get two packages. One from Target; one from Amazon. And they were different shapes. Bijou loved both of them. When I take a breather at home, instead of looking at my phone or going to a national news outlet to read more news, I go pet my animals.

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So it’s a nice break from everything. But they can also be annoying and walk on your keyboard or get in a cat fight on deadline and you have to break it up. (And when a dog walks on your computer, you’re actually afraid she will break it!)

Mark Neitro

I think my pets help bring me comfort, laughter and some smiles during this pandemic. As you can see, our dog Rocket loves attention and most days when I’m editing he’ll either be at my feet or he’ll pay me a visit in between my legs, especially if I’m eating.

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He also doesn’t mind a back rub while I use him as a footrest. Rocket also likes to bring his toy and play tug-o-war while I’m editing or on a Zoom meeting. Our cat Starlord can sometimes be seen rubbing up against the web camera during online meetings. And then there’s our 15-year-old Basset Flash. He sleeps a lot and has been found in some rather awkward, but funny places.

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These 3 boys are all rescues and even though their barking or meowing can sometimes interrupt an edit or a phone call, I couldn’t imagine working from home without them.

Aaron Romek
News Producer

I was fortunate to get Glacier last fall after my last cat passed away.  And I’m so glad I did before the stay at home order. Being in a long distance relationship and not able to travel, she has been my source of comfort during all of this. And as you can see in the picture she is a big cuddler, so when I sit down to unwind at night, she is right there next to me to help me do just that.


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When I do work a home, she likes to be right there again, often on the desk in front of the computer, and doesn’t like it when I have to move her off. Still she makes me smile a lot, even during the crunch of things early on when none of us knew what was going to happen next. By being home I have also been able to watch her slowly learn how to open kitchen cabinets and even closet doors.

Kathy Walsh
News Anchor, Reporter

There’s this saying … “Wake up. Hug dog. Have a good day.”  That sums up life with Cora Jean. Every day that I work at my dining room table during the pandemic, she’s beside me smiling. If I need to talk, she listens without judgement. She makes me take a break when she needs a break. A study dating back to the 80s found that touching or even talking to a dog can lead to lower blood pressure.

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Cora Jean is good medicine. Cockapoos rule! And if you don’t believe me ask photojournalists Steve Youngerman and Robert Sanchez. She greets them with unbridled enthusiasm. Steve in known to warn Robert not to get too chummy with “his” puppy.  I can’t wait to bring her to work when we can get back in the building!


Tim Wieland