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The University of Southampton
Southampton Clinical Trials Unit

National Pet Month - Lockdown and working from home with the pets of the SCTU

April is National Pet Month. So, we asked our staff how their pets have helped them over the last year, from coping with lockdowns to providing some unique challenges to working from home.


Seres and Esme
Seres and Esme with Olana

Seres and Esme (Olana, Senior Trial Manager)

Seres is an 11-year-old Bengal and as you can see from the photos wants to be around me a LOT. She is very interested in what’s happening on my computer screens, but sadly her typing skills aren’t up to much! She is missing her back left leg and now has a phantom limb and will often try to scratch her head with her missing leg. She also has her own Instagram account (@three_quarter_kitty, feel free to follow her.)

I’ve discovered since being home all the time that Esme (also 11) spends 99% of the day asleep unless it’s time to be fed, she does make a pretty good hot water bottle replacement though! She’s also 11 and is a furry bowling ball of a cat.

It has been really nice having them around to provide company in the absence of colleagues during my breaks. Though I can’t say either of them make very good substitutes, as to date neither of them has even offered to make me a cup of tea nor sit with me for lunch.



Rosie (Jayne, Senior Administrator)

Rosie is a labradoodle and is 9-years-old. She is my perfect companion working from home and sits with me in my office in her little bed.  She is a perfect excuse to get out at lunchtime for a quick walk too.

She loves Weetabix for breakfast and I can’t go to my sock draw unless I close it as somehow she associates socks with going for a walk.


Nubo and Nimbus
Nubo and Nimbus

Nubo and Nimbus (Keira, Pharmacovigilance Manager)

Nimbus (‘fancy rat’) and Nubo (‘Dumbo-eared rat’) are so social, always happy to see me in the morning. They ensure I take regular breaks for cuddles. Their favourite treat is blueberries, and Nimbus does a better job at finding crumbs than a hoover!


Rat in a hat


They can both spin around on cue and have good recall for a click sound (as long as they are not already eating) and they all suit all kinds of hats!




Clone the horse

Clone, Belle, Gus and the chickenes (Victoria, Programme Manager)

My horse is called Clone (you can probably tell I used to be a lab scientist!) and is now 24. He is the kindest horse I have ever met. We used to compete in show jumping but he now leads a fully pampered life doing just what he likes which is just as he deserves. Going to see him daily has been amazing during lockdown, it’s got the kids and me out of the house and out for a proper walk in all weathers.


Cats Belle and Gus, and the chickens
Cats Belle and Gus, and the chickens

We also have five chickens called Fluffy, Bubble, Flower, Betty and Fleur. They all have individual characters and run to the gate as soon as they see me incase I have a treat for them. Fresh eggs make the best cakes – plus the kids love to collect them.

And there are the two cats Belle and Gus (pictured as kittens). They are so gentle and Belle especially has really helped the kids during lockdown. It’s been tough for them some days but having the cats to curl up with and all the animals to look after has given every day purpose and structure.

Belle especially has really helped the kids during lockdown. It’s been tough for them some days but having the cats to curl up with and all the animals to look after has given every day purpose and structure.

Salem the cat


Salem (Beth, Associate Professor of Statistics)

Like all cats, Salem has alternated between benign indifference and keeping us firmly under the paw during lockdown.  He likes to join my husband for his morning meetings and sleep in the sunshine on my desk during the afternoon. 


He did drop a live mouse at my feet when I was in the middle of recording a lecture, which certainly livened things up!  He is named after Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch because he looks exactly like him and because we suspect he also dreams of world domination. 


Finn and Charlotte
Finn and Charlotte

Finn (Charlotte, Data Manager)

Finn is is two and a half year-old Cavachon. He’s made lockdown more bearable by providing whenever I need them, though sometimes he demands cuddles for himself when I’m in the middle of a meeting – not so helpful!

He is a bit odd as unlike most dogs, he hides away whenever we’re about to take him for a walk and acts as if he doesn’t want to go. But once we’re out the house he loves his walkies. His favourite thing is to go up to every human he meets and sit on their feet until they give him a pet.


Diesel and Zeus
Diesel and Zeus

Diesel, Zeus and the chickens (Lucy, Data Manager)

Both Diesel (black lab) and Zeus (chocolate lab) were very willing to join the data team, although they were certainly a bit more of a hindrance than help! They’ve both helped keep me sane during lockdown providing much needed company and often accompanying me to meetings via Teams - luckily there’s a mute function for when they get too excited. Diesel will roll over for almost any kind of treat, but especially a pig’s ear, and Zeus likes to be carried about via piggyback.


Dandelion, Burdock, Sage and Onion
Dandelion, Burdock, Sage and Onion

The chickens are called Dandelion, Burdock, Sage and Onion. They are all ex-commercial girls who are being thoroughly spoilt in their retirement. They too have recently undergone a lockdown from Dec 14th to Mar 31st due to the risk of avian flu. They are very much like humans in that plenty of treats have kept them occupied while they’ve been unable to roam freely about the garden.



Tripawd Toffee
Tripawd Toffee

Toffee (Anna, Senior Trial Manager)

For my beloved Toffee, who passed away when he was just over 9-years-old, I have written a childrens' book called 'Tripawd Toffee'.

Toffee lost his leg when he was 3 but that did not deter him from being the cheeky, boisterous ginger Tomcat that he was before.

And you can find out more about Tripawd Toffee here.


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