My dogs have been my salvation during this pandemic and I think I may be theirs as well. They are so dear and devoted, happy to sleep at my side, cuddle in my lap, catch an errant Frisbee, or happily stroll along with me on walks.
We’ve done a lot of strolling these weeks. I have my one, youngish Boston Terrier who is my main walking squeeze. She’s come a long way with that, having come to us from the terrors of a terrier Amish puppy mill in Ohio. She spent her first two weeks with us ensconced on the floor under the kitchen table growling from fear and confusion. It is now four years since then and though still skittish, she walks (mostly) with confidence at my side and has (mostly) emerged from under the kitchen table (sans growl).
Brinkley is my old man. He’s 14 – 15 in September, and he’s pretty gnarled now, takes a low dose of prednisone daily to keep pain at bay. He can’t see or hear, and we have to be oh so careful with him to keep him safe. Occasionally he gets “lost” in the backyard and can’t find his way to the door. I must then go out and rescue him. I adopted him from a breeder when he was 6 months old after he’d been returned by two previous buyers and he’s been my lover boy ever since.
Sasha is also on the downhill slide at 12. She has battled Cushings Disease for years, but she has done so with grace and dignity. She is the low dog on canine totem pole in our home. Still, every day at lunch she parks herself at my chair and looks at me with big, doleful eyes that beg for the daily ration of her beloved carrots. She always gets them. I adopted her through a rescue group from a family that just didn’t want her anymore.
Finally, there’s Rosie. Rosie was allegedly a Boston Terrier, but with her longish snout we knew there was something else going on with her. Curiosity compelled us to get a doggie-DNA kit, and voila! We were right. Our clearly non-pure (but adorable) Boston was ¾ her namesake and ¼ Cavalier King Charles!! Go figure. She is my man-friend’s favorite but she puts a little twinkle in my eye, too. She is also the wild one of the bunch and her mission in life is to place a Frisbee at your feet.
A time carved out of time. A chasm, deep, but not bottomless.
The landscape is changing. What will it look like when this is over? Will it be ever over?
I tell my students who are sad about missing their graduation to think that they are experiencing something cataclysimic that shall be forever embedded in history, a history about which they can say, “I was there.”
I am one of the lucky ones. I am content with my simple, daily life of reading, writing, and playing with my animals. I am alone with my partner, but instead of a time of tension and separation, we are growing closer. He is our courier and he is happy with that. I am our hearth keeper, and I am happy with that.
Still, we listen to the news, watch our governor’s daily briefs and cheer him on, watch our president’s daily briefs and scoff in disgust, and wonder how it will all turn out in the end.
This is Ethel. Ethel is my green cheek conure-parrot. Ethel is my very feisty, very nippy, very bratty parrot. She is also my energetic, always-in-motion, hilarious friend. Ethel has bonded tightly to me and she acts like a shy toddler when someone comes in who she doesn’t know. That’s when she gets herself as far under my chin as she possibly can, probably thinking the visitor will not be able to see her there.
Ethel dances to my said rendition of “You Are my Sunshiine,” and as only animals can do, she clearly loves singing as she happily bounces her head up and down to the beat.
As are so many of us, during this pandemic I am working from home. When I’m at my desk I usually let Ethel out of her cage. I try to encourage her to play on one of her jungle gyms but she usually decides I am her favored playground, which means she crawls all over me, nips at my ear, and generally makes a pest of herslef. A funny pest — the other day, she climbed onto my keyboard and in a flash dug up the “R” key, and like a naughty kid, off she scurried in her hunched over parrot walk, R key in mouth.
Long story short, I got the r key back and at this moment, Ethel is hanging upside down from my glasses. Sigh.
So many things are different now, and so many changes yet loom. It’s hard to put words to it all. What I can put words to is the changes in humans, at least the ones I encounter on my daily walks of sanity with my little dog.
Not too many of us are out walking, and I wonder if I’m making some violation of something or other. True, we are all on isolation in our homes, but should that include staying off the sidewalks? We don’t. Nor do others in our little neighborhood. Like one of my neighbors said today as we passed one another, “You’ve got to get out of the house.”
Getting out of the house restores the humanness of our predicament. Smiling, saying hello and waving reminds us we are not alone.
Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications