I got a puppy this past spring. When I wrote tips #14, 19, and 24 of “how to do a pandemic” post earlier this year, I didn’t think I’d actually get a dog. But after thinking about it off and on for years, I decided this was the best time to go for it. And, wow, am I ever glad I did.
Months later, in the same half-joking spirit as the earlier list, it seems fitting that I write a sequel of sorts. Here – in no particular order – is a partial list of things my puppy Covi (yes, Covi) has taught me during COVID-19.
- Playgrounds are more interesting with kids! Okay, this one wasn’t really a revelation. But there was still something heart-striking about seeing Covi stop in her tracks when kids began playing together again. For weeks, our walks had taken us past empty playgrounds covered in “caution” or “danger” tape. Seeing these same places full of laughing kids was a surprise to the puppy and a jolt of relief for me.
- I have too many accessories. My work-from-home attire is pretty minimal. I’ve managed personal hygiene, but makeup, jewelry or clothes made for anything other than comfort are no longer in the routine. So, the dog was understandably confused when she first saw me in a dangly necklace, and again when I wore something other than Birkenstocks or sneakers on my feet. It begs the question: why do I have all these things if I can go so long without wearing them? And what good have any of these belongings done me during this bizarre year?
- Masks are not that big a deal. Long before masks became mandatory in Calgary, Covi had adjusted to this particular accessory. Sure, the first few times she saw a human in a mask prompted a few quizzical head-tilts…but it quickly became a non-event. Interesting when puppies can adjust faster than people.
- Companionship is a big deal. This one is more serious. When I wrote last year that I wanted to be a mother and a wife one day, a friend asked how I was going to do either of those things if I didn’t make some life changes. She had a point. Unfortunately, a pandemic isn’t a great time to fix those things, and it is conducive to beating myself up for not using the last decade differently. For years, I’ve chosen to work like crazy and fall in love with men who, while good people overall, couldn’t seem to tell the truth about our future prospects (to me or to themselves). While I’m an introvert and have usually seen “alone time” as a treat, there’s something about being alone with only a screen for company that is crazy-making after a while. Covi’s presence has truly felt like a lifeline.
- Getting outside is a must. I think lots of people have picked up this lesson, and I’m grateful for a four-legged friend to remind me of it. It boggles my mind when people say that employees aren’t productive at home. On the days I’ve worked from home this year, the hours have been long, and the To Do list is incessant. Being at an office has always included chats with coworkers, walks to get coffee, or even just walks from one meeting to another. At home, it’s endless hours of video calls and frantic typing to try and get things done – often for exhausted and stressed-out people on the receiving end. Given my aforementioned workaholism, it would be easy to stay consumed with work. Instead, I have a furry friend with a built-in alarm clock for when it’s time to stand up from my desk and take her for a walk.
- My neighbourhood is full of interesting things! I’m embarrassed to admit that I walked and drove in this area for almost a year without noticing all kinds of interesting houses, yard décor, and buildings nearby (pigeon racing club, anyone?!). I was always in such a hurry to get somewhere that I took the most direct route, and was focused on other things during my commute. But when you’re with a creature that insists on dawdling along to smell everything, you can’t help but notice your surroundings. I feel so lucky to have moved here last summer so I could be settled and able to explore now.
- It’s okay to talk to strangers. Maybe other people are also learning #6 above, or maybe Covi is damn cute. Either way, people are quick to say hello and I’ve been talking to more strangers. Taking care not to breathe all over each other doesn’t mean we can’t say hello to people around us.
Speaking of communicating with each other, I’m going to see what I can do to maintain enough energy to start blogging regularly again. Looking at a screen during non-work hours is a tough sell these days, but the reasons I originally started the blog hold up. If you’re still with me, thanks for your patience. Two-legged or four-legged, let’s keep looking out for each other.