StetPet Editorial Assistants

March 2020

By Jill Walters, Northwest Editors Guild Social Media Coordinator

We love our pets. There’s no question that interacting with a pet will usually make you happier—that’s when they aren’t chewing on your shoe or trying to walk across your keyboard. Numerous scientific studies have proven that petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure and have benefits for them, too. And recent studies even indicated that just looking at a photo of a cute animal can trigger an increase in productivity.

The Northwest Editors Guild introduced a weekly feature called StetPet on our social media during the summer of 2017 to give our followers a midweek smile. We’ve posted photos and descriptions of animal editorial and writing assistants from all over the world every Wednesday since, featuring plenty of cats, dogs, rodents, aquatic pets, and even wild animal visitors that “help” editors and authors with their work. StetPet posts are frequently the most popular posts on the Guild’s social media feeds.

In light of the constant changes and stress with the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we could all use extra smiles right now. That’s why we’ll be posting three StetPets per week on the Guild’s social media for the foreseeable future. It’s the least we can do to keep our editorial community a tiny bit happier during uncertain times.

Here we’ll meet three area editors who describe how their StetPets (and temporary StetPets) enrich their lives—and sometimes their work.

Alison Cantrell is a Northwest Editors Guild board member, serving as the Guild’s volunteer coordinator, and a freelance editor who lives in the greater Portland, Oregon, metro area. Alison’s dachshund, George, serves as the Guild’s “official” Portland StetPet Ambassador. (George is a girl, by the way.)

George with her copy of the Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).

George is a faithful StetPet editorial assistant. As a freelance editor, I work remotely much of the time, so George loves to keep me company and give me many couch cuddles as I brush up on style guides and other reading. George also makes sure I don’t burn out by providing much-needed reminders to take breaks so we can go on walks, play with her favorite squirrel toy, and take trips in the car.

George and Giant Pencil out for a walk.

Guild member Julie Swearingen, a freelance editor who recently moved to Bend, Oregon, takes her love of StetPets to another level, working as a pet-sitter for the company Rover, allowing her to care for multiple pets while also being able to edit.

I love being a Rover dog-sitter. When I first got started in Portland, I was looking for some extra income around my contracted office position. I met some nice pups, and friends requested me to walk or stay with their pets.

Izzy coming in to work with Julie.

Now, that I’m in Bend and my freelance is almost completely home-based, accepting Rover jobs means I have a quieter place to work than my home office which includes two cats and a small dog (who often scrap and drive me up the wall). Yes, I don’t have my second monitor like I do at my home office, but as long as I have a Wi-Fi connection, my laptop and I are ready to work. And many of these dogs require several walks per day, so it’s a great reason to get up, stretch my legs, and get away from the computer.

Murphy knows that reading a tough sentence out to a stuffed toy can help in figuring it out.

I also love being able to care for peoples’ pets. It gives me a chance to snuggle dogs I wouldn’t normally get to meet, give peace of mind to people when they travel, and have a fun staycation. Often, when I set up my “office” at their kitchen table, the dogs will sleep on top of or under my feet. Pet-sitting and freelance editorial seem to have been made for me!

Rossi resting from a long day of editorial work.

Seattle-area editor Jenny Rosewood, a technical editor with Google, has shifted to working from home every day due to the coronavirus outbreak. Her menagerie of StetPets, including Tillie, Charlie, Slinky, Poncho, and Zascha, are enjoying the extra company.

I live with three dogs and two cats on five acres in Kingston, Washington, just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle. I’m a technical editor with Google. I typically work from home about once a week while my husband works from home about three times per week. He does internal documentation for a local tech company. We usually coordinate our schedule so that only one of us is working at home at a time, but now find ourselves sharing the office five days a week with our herd of beasties! Let’s just say, it’s a good thing we both have headphones!

Did Tillie hear a meeting start without her?

I have a cat bed on my desk for Tillie (17, Russian blue) who somehow sleeps all day except for during meetings when she likes to walk across my keyboard. If I ignore her for long enough, she sits on the shelf above my laptop so her fluffy tail will drape in front of my camera!

Charlie demonstrates the importance of taking outdoor breaks to keep your mind fresh.

There’s a cat tower in between our two desks for Charlie (2, American shorthair) to snooze in when he’s in between stalking robins outside. He joins the dogs and I on our walks every morning. His favorite game is to tackle one of the dogs from behind to surprise them.

Slinky snuggles in her blanket.

The dogs are a little bit more work! They are all rescues with special needs. After a short walk in the morning around the property, they snooze most of the morning. Slinky (15, Chihuahua–Jack Russell terrier) sleeps on one of the two dog beds in the office. She’s the old lady of the pack and has developed epilepsy in her golden years. She will growl at us until we tuck her in under her favorite blanket. Poncho (2, red tick hound) sleeps on my feet, disappointed that he’s not in our laps! Before we rescued him, he was hit by a car and not taken to the vet immediately so he walks with a permanent limp and is on a special diet, but that doesn’t stop him from racing up and down our hill! Zascha (4, corgi–Great Pyrenees) sleeps at the top of the stairs just outside our office to guard us from any intruders. She’s almost 100% deaf, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to herd the cats.

Zascha taking a well-earned snooze while on guard duty.

We’ve had to adjust a bit now that we’re 100% WFH. My husband and I sync our calendars every morning in case we have overlapping meetings. The dogs go outside and I move to the guest bedroom during those meetings because we’re both loud talkers! The dogs are loving this new schedule! They get a bonus walk every day at lunch, extra training time, and of course, more belly rubs! They are going to be disappointed when I have to return to my normal schedule.

Poncho taking a very important midday nap.

Do you have an animal editorial or writing assistant who deserves virtual fame and ear scratches as a StetPet? Send us a photo and short description of your furry, feathered, scaly, or slimy helper so we can share the happiness with fellow editors. See the StetPet page on the Guild’s website for full submission details. We also accept photos of part-time or temporary assistants, wild assistants, and the occasional faux friend (think plastic dinosaurs and rubber duckies). And be sure to follow the hashtag #StetPet on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to see all the trusty animal assistants.

Jill Walters

Jill Walters is a Seattle-based freelance copyeditor and proofreader and serves as the Guild’s social media coordinator. She is also a past Guild board member and was on the Red Pencil conference committee in 2015 and 2017. Even though she created StetPet, she doesn’t have one of her own, but you might recognize some of her regular dog-sitting clients in occasional posts. She also acts as “assistant” to Guild mascot Giant Pencil. You can reach Jill at social@edsguild.org.

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