Where would any of our islands be without Dogs (or pets of all kinds).
Over the past 45 days my superannuated pug Coco has been my constant companion, my sounding board, my colleague and my editor. She shares office space with me, always keeping her workspace clean and her in-box (food bowl) empty. And her salary is quite reasonable.
I’m not sure what one does with a cat in a lock-down (no judgement implied – cats are endlessly fascinating to me but I am allergic and have never lived with one since the days of Lydia, a Siamese who used to bite my six-year-old toes in the still of the night) but dogs have been an important outlet for many in my community. No matter how tightly we want to seal up the house for quarantine, we still must get the dog outside. Several times a day and in several waves, the pet parade passes outside of my window. A bewildering array of breeds and sizes prances ahead of the owners, both parties enjoying every moment of the sunshine (or the rain – it never seems to matter much). The humans, despite themselves, bask in the relative freedom of their perambulation. Moods lighten a bit and there is even room for a friendly nod or a mask-wreathed smile, as long as the alien dog and owner don’t stray too close.
I observe a lot of puppies in the mix as well. Well, what better time to bring a new pet into a house than one where we are forced to be there anyway. I have read that animal shelter numbers are low, an unforeseen benefit to the shelter-in-place regimen. The better angels of our natures have come forward or maybe have been adopted by us.
Pets have scientifically documented health benefit. Just like chicken soup, it turns out that owning a pet leads to demonstrated and reproducible improvement in cardiovascular function including heart rate and blood pressure. Even the small amount of exercise involved in walking an animal leads to better joint function. And with my pup around, I never get to finish a cookie. There are even dogs that are trained to identify seizures or diabetic crises. What better companion during a health crisis?
In Wes Anderson’s 2018 animated classic Isle of Dogs, the cat-controlled politicians exile all the canines to a small island thinking that they will become savage and self-destructive. Naturally, the opposite occurs, as the dogs create a society that looks out for each other and ultimately for a human who is likewise stranded there. We are so fortunate to be able to share our lives and now our solitude with these small blessed creatures.