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  • Writer's pictureLTV Staff

‘Fluffball’ Helps Family Through Trying Times

Barkley isn’t quite a therapy dog, but he has certainly been a source of comfort for the Nguyen-Bowen family during these challenging times.

The East Hampton Village family decided to get a puppy two weeks ago when they realized they were going to be spending a lot of time at home. At seven-and-a-half pounds, Barkley, a mix of poodle and Bernese mountain dog, kind of looks like a living, breathing teddy bear. He’ll be about 30 pounds when fully grown.

“It’s been a welcome distraction,” said Keith Bowen. His wife, Anna Nguyen, called Barkley “an angel.” They also call the puppy “fluffball.”

Barkley has helped them stay in good spirits while they all work from home. Anna works in the podcasting field for Apple and Keith works for Altice USA. Keith's elder son, Jack, works in the finance field. James, his younger son, is a Fairfield University student who is completing his semester through online courses after returning early from his study-abroad program in Italy.

“They are not fun, to be honest,” said James, who would normally be playing intramural basketball and soccer and hanging out with his friends in addition to schoolwork. “It’s a lot of busy work and kind of annoying. The instructors definitely don't like it, either.”

But they are enjoying having more time together, watching movies often and taking walks for exercise. They acknowledge getting a little more sleep than they used to. Anna cooks Vietnamese food for everyone and Keith, who was a chef in college and is kind of the “head of the kitchen” at home in East Hampton, cooks lots of other things.

“We’re still trying to get the boys to cook us a meal,” Anna said.

“And the kids have learned to do the dishes,” Keith said.

Anna has been video-chatting with friends more frequently than she saw them before the COVID-19 virus made “social distancing” a thing.

“Before, it was much more casual, texts here and there,” she said. “I feel like I've seen friends on video that I haven’t seen in a very long time.”

Jack, who only recently graduated from Fairfield and entered the workforce, has been playing Call of Duty, a video game, and doing online “happy hours” as a way to bond with his coworkers virtually.

COVID-19 is still on their minds, but they’re helping each other through it all.

“There’s a little bit of nervousness,” Anna said. “The uncertainty of how long this will go on for and how serious it could really get. I think whether or not we’ll get sick is always on the back of our minds.”

They are also counting their blessings, in particular living in such a beautiful place.

“I think we all wish for this virus to get contained and go away,” Keith said. “We’re thankful to be out here and to be together.”

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