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Dog Days

Our Folio Pets columnist skips the dog park for a stay-cation with mom

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If all this talk of COVID-19 has taught me anything, it’s how often my mom touches her face without thinking about it. But as is so often the case when it comes to humans, there are more questions than answers. Namely, “Why are you stockpiling toilet paper?”

Whatever the answer to that riddle, my mom and I have been listening to the experts and practicing social distancing and self-isolation. Days typically spent raiding the farmer’s market for local treats, or visiting the neighborhood coffeehouse for a double-shot puppucino, are now passed pacing around the house searching for my squeaky squirrel and watching too many episodes of Gossip Girl. Annoying as it is, lounging around at home does have its perks. I’ve discovered a podcast for dogs. Each episode features dog-directed praise and messages of affirmation and reassurance—and we all could use a little reassurance during this uncertain time. I admit: my ears did twitch slightly when the presenter said I was the best dog ever. Preach on!

There’s never been a better time to practice old tricks and learn new ones. The mail carrier’s visit breaks up the monotony, but I wish deliveries would be more predictable. (I’m literally a creature of habit!)

In between escorting my mom to the bathroom and supervising Orange Cat through the window, I’ve managed to burn energy with some indoor games. Okay, they won’t exactly get my heart racing like a day at the park, but they beat napping all day until I am able to get back to my usual routine. I run, fetch and either toss my squeaky squirrel in the air or chew on it till I’m ready for the next throw. I kick around my IQ ball until the last piece of kibble falls out, which gives me a sublime sense of satisfaction. It’s also something to focus on until it’s time for a nap (or another episode of Gossip Girl). What better way to pass the time?

I’ve started putting more energy into challenges that give me some type of reward at the end. Like nose work. All I have to do is let my schnoz sniff out goodies that are hidden around the house. It gives me a feeling of purpose and a full belly. Speaking of reward at the end, I use some of this forced downtime to plan life post-COVID-19. I take out my diary and start scheduling dog-friendly trips and writing new goals I want to achieve. COVID-19 has given me an opportunity to play the philanthropist, too. I cleaned out my toy chest and filled some charity bags for homeless pets, which made me feel good.

Being forced to stay inside isn’t ideal, but it’s absolutely necessary for keeping others and myself safe during the virus outbreak. Plus, there are worse sentences than house arrest. I have a seemingly endless supply of snacks and, of course, the company of my mom.

I’m vigilant about washing my paws, and I take care to just consciously breathe. These are tough, uncertain times; the best thing we all can do is be kind to our neighbors and ourselves as we go through this trial together.

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