Sniffing out the best way to keep in touch

Landing your dream job can feel like—well—a dream come true. But it can also mean making a sacrifice or two. When one of those sacrifices involves leaving behind your 15-pound best friend for three months, you really want to be sure you’re making the right decision. You also want to have a way to communicate with that best friend while you’re away.

In November of 2016, Jennifer McDermott packed her necessaries and moved from Sydney, Australia, to New York City—leaving behind Frank, her eight-year-old pug and doggy-confidant. Frank and Jennifer had been together since Frank was an 11-week-old puppy, so leaving him behind, even if for only three months, turned out to be about as difficult as you could imagine. One comfort, however, was that Frank, according to Jennifer, was more of a people dog than a dog’s dog. “He has never met a human he doesn’t like and wants to greet everyone he sees,” she says. So, she felt OK leaving him in the care and safety of a friend while she took her long-dreamed-of move to the Big Apple to set up her new life there.

Frank enjoys the view with his tongue out.

“Moving countries is a very intense and, at times, lonely experience,” says Jennifer. There were times when a cuddle from Frank would have done a lot to cheer her up, but he was an ocean away. Lacking a teleporter to beam him there, she found the next best thing: video chat. Jennifer had used Skype to keep in touch with friends and family back home in Australia—as well as her sister in Nashville. So, why couldn’t a virtual contact with her flat-nosed buddy work just as well?

Frank searches for Jennifer in a Skype video chat.

This did the trick right away. At least for Jennifer. Dogs have a harder time recognizing a two-dimensional image on a screen, and smell is of course their favorite way to confirm they’re with a friend. But dogs also have great hearing and can recognize the voice of a loved one instantly. “Without smell, Frank wouldn’t immediately recognize me on Skype,” she says. “However, as soon as I spoke, his ears would prick up and he would do the iconic pug head-tilt.” It was just what she needed.

Frank, like most dogs, is obsessed with food. So, it made Jennifer’s heart melt even further when he’d dismiss his dinner or even a treat to stick his face up to the computer, sniffing and scanning the screen to find out just from where the siren voice of his dear mom came.

Jennifer uses Skype for more than just dog time. In her role as a communications manager at finder.com, she finds herself on Skype a lot. “I collaborate regularly with global colleagues, so Skype is instrumental for staying in touch across different time zones,” she says. “We also have a number of remote workers here in the U.S., so I use it to conduct face-to-face meetings with them, or to interview candidates.” She was, in fact, interviewed over Skype for her current role. Her first day on the job was the first time she met any of her colleagues in the flesh.

Frank and Jennifer go for a stroll on a cool New York afternoon.

Jennifer and Frank are reunited now in New York City, so Frank doesn’t miss any more meals or snacks to sniff her visage trying to see if the screen is indeed his loving mom. And Jennifer gets those Frank snuggles she needs when missing friends or family in Australia or other parts of the world. Now, her Skype time is divvied up between work and family. Her niece and nephew are four and two respectively, and video chats have become an important way for her to stay a visual presence in their lives, even though she’s so far away.

Thanks to this easy way to communicate with Frank, friends, and family, Jennifer came to love her city and relishes the decision to pursue that dream job and set up her new life there.

We love hearing how Skype keeps you in touch with friends and family—even four-legged family. To share your story, just tag us @Skype on social media, and we might feature you.

Images courtesy of Jennifer McDermott.