Bridging the Divided

Furbabies Helping Their Humans Through The COVID-19 Crisis…..

Finally! Within the dark cloud of COVID-19 is a silver lining. I heard a story on the news about a segment of the population thrilled stay-at-home orders are in effect across the nation. Drum roll, please! You guessed it – our furbabies are ecstatic many of us are working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. And more than a few of us are glad for the distraction of wet noses, sloppy kisses and wagging tails. We are saturated in COVID-19 information and nearly all of it is adding to the stress of a nation already at their breaking point.

Many of us working from home are attending virtual meetings. I do not usually say this, but technology has significant advantages. From the safety and comfort of my home, I can stay-in-the-know, get work done, and limit exposure to the dreaded and deadly COVID-19 virus.

On the flip side of having furbabies while working at home, I have a lot more ‘help’ with job duties. Our littlest one insists upon sitting in my lap and I am not opposed until she wants to walk across the keyboard. Neither are the dogs on the same page as I, seeing my job as more suited to being the gatekeeper of the revolving door to let them in and out, in and out, in and out – you get the picture. And, of course, there are challenges to virtual meetings as the pups are not shy about making their presence known when I am obligated to unmute the phone and add my two cents worth. The trick is to unmute the phone, speak quickly, and mute again before they have inhaled and let loose a chorus of varied-pitch barks each trying to be heard over the others.

In most states, the stay-at-home orders allow ‘essential’ movement. Not sure who defines ‘essential’, nevertheless I see more people out and about with their dogs in the afternoons. Another silver lining. Dogs out walking their humans provide humans with much-needed exercise, Vitamin D from the sun, and fresh air. An oasis of serenity is found within the simple act of dogs walking their humans. Our minds so consumed and overwhelmed with information about COVID-19 we are unaware of the extent until the fog of information overload is temporarily cleared. It’s good to know our furbabies have our backs during the virus, isn’t it?

For some parts of the nation, the significant impact of COVID-19 is just now making itself known. Not only are our minds overwhelmed but our bodies are registering the effects as more and more cases are identified, the death toll rises, and people are experiencing the stress of uncertainty, fear, and job losses. I am considered part of the ‘at risk’ group because of asthma. Typically, I don’t have issues with anxiety and yet, a time or two I have gotten a bit concerned because of heart palpitations, headaches, and episodes of difficulty breathing; all symptoms of anxiety. Fortunately, we have plenty of furbabies to offer comfort and stress relief. Petting an animal releases oxytocin in the brain to counter the effects of adrenalin rising in response to stress. Breathing improves, the heart slows its pace, and tension drains away. Our furbabies ensuring I will survive another day to provide them with food and a lap for napping, and of course to let them in and out, in and out, in and out.

I feel sorry for people who don’t have furbabies to ease the tensions of a nation in crisis. Without pets to lessen the burden, some may turn to alcohol, anxiety medications, or substances of the herbal variety, currently illegal in most states. I am not opposed to herbal alternatives to medicinal chemicals or alcohol in moderation. They have their place, but at the same time, they are mind-altering and I prefer a clear head most of the time so I can let our furbabies in and out, in and out, in and out…..

Please wash hands frequently, stay home as much as possible, and maintain social distance when out and about. Our nation and the lives of others depend on it!

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