I’m staying home tonight (New Year’s Eve), in my pajamas and with Izzy. As it should be. I don’t particularly like being out and about on New Year’s Eve, which is a holiday that seems to equate to lots of inebriated people, loud noises (often including fireworks), and general debauchery.
If you are one of my followers who is currently locked down due to Covid-19, I realise that it has been a tough year and that you are probably itching to get back to a normal social life. Try to see the glass as half-full – you are home safe with your dog.
As we see out 2020 and welcome 2021, I cannot help but reflect on the events of this year and the role our dogs have played in it:
- The best lockdown companions you can have – dogs. We always knew that dogs are great companions but how much did they prove it to us (and continue to do so in many places) during lockdown?
- Izzy was the host of Word of the Day during our lockdown and she also was the reason I was outside walking twice every day – as usual for us – but even more important for structure to our lockdown days and for the mental health that physical exercise and fresh air bring.
- So many office-based jobs can be done from a home office – and how many dogs benefited from this? If my friends and clients are anything to go by – plenty.
- My hope is that employees have proven their ability to remain productive in a working-from-home environment and, therefore, that employers will be more receptive to work from home arrangements going into the future.
- Working from home cuts down on commuting times, reducing pressure on the environment from emissions which is good for the environment. And reduced commuting times mean added time for quality of life for everyone. More time typically means that dogs benefit from longer walks and bonding time with their owners – and both benefit from the companionship of having the owner around more. I’m not a big fan of commercial day cares, with dogs in an over-stimulated environment and walking/standing on concrete all day – working from home is such a better option for office-based roles!
- Olive and Mabel – the rise of the dog superstars and their sports commentator Dad, Andrew Cotter. I loved watching all the YouTube videos with expert commentary by Andrew. What an example of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” With professional sports shut down, Andrew directed his talents in a new direction and he and his dogs have become celebrities because of it. I haven’t read Andrew’s book yet, but it is on my reading list. Here’s one of my favourites from the Olive and Mabel YouTube series:
- Teaching humans resilience. Dogs live in the moment and how much of that did we need in 2020? They didn’t understand a virus and the need to obey physical distancing. But they did it. And so can (and should) we!
- A new respect for vaccinations and their role in society. I’m not an anti-vaxxer but I have a healthy respect for what protections proper vaccination can give. How many people are now totally reliant on a global strategy to vaccinate against Covid-19? It makes you think, doesn’t it?
- Emergency planning – what happens if you can’t be there to take care of your dog? With the prospect of getting ill, many pet parents have finally made the time to make arrangements for their pets.
- Adoption rates soar – a recognition that it takes time to settle in a new pet and a Covid-induced lockdown provided that time. And while there have been training challenges for puppies raised during periods where socialization hasn’t been possible, overall the role of a pet to support physical and mental wellness has never been more recognised.
The pandemic has also taught us about how much we rely on each other – for trade, for the manufacturing and the movement of goods, and for our economies. I am grateful to all who embraced SUPPORT LOCAL and have deliberately chosen my independent practice to support their dog’s needs, even when faced with reduced incomes and stress brought about by Covid-19.
As many of you know, I embraced Fear Free certification in 2018. Fear Free is about reducing fear, anxiety and stress in animals and promoting these strategies to professionals in pet care and to pet parents. My wish for you is that 2021 is also a Fear Free year – where we see an improvement in the pandemic, and for all those affected, the time and space to begin the healing process.
My best wishes to you and yours for 2021.
Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand