JWU professors, like students, are experiencing the “new normal” at home during the global pandemic, COVID-19. In this series, we’ll explore how they are navigating their day-to-day, both inside and outside the online classroom, and their observations of the world. Read more here.
Trying to model good citizenship, every day at 1 p.m., my husband and I drop whatever we’re doing and turn on our local TV station to listen to the governor and various team members regale us with data, restrictions, and updates regarding the COVID-19 crisis. Sometimes the news is good. Sometimes, not so good; however, we keep telling ourselves that at least we’re informed. And, as of today, this hour time slot is the one constant in both of our schedules.
As is probably true of most folks, the rest of our day is filled with our required at-home work routine as well as rather mundane tasks — laundry, cleaning, and cooking. If we feel daring, a highlight is perhaps actually leaving the house to go to the drug store, grocery shopping, or a gas station. This last one, admittedly, is a very rare occasion since we’re never really driving far. After all, Rhode Island is the “greatest little state in the union,” touted as being a 45-minute drive from one end to the other. However, the price of gas is low and it is an opportunity to safely leave the family abode, complete with requisite mask and gloves, albeit briefly.
Perhaps the brightest light in this seemingly never-ending remake of Groundhog Day, is our beloved one-and-a-half-year-old 33-pound rescue puppy, Casside. She has absolutely no idea why we’re both home all day and night, but she doesn’t care — she’s quite happy about this situation. For her, it translates into more frequent walks around the block to visit (at the end of her six-foot leash of course) neighbors who pat her, reward her with dog biscuits for no apparent reason, tell her how cute she is, rub her tummy, snuggle with her, who, in short, make her life better. I’m certain she misses her regular puppy play group, however, her friendship with Gracie, her 70-plus-pound BFF is intact, and they visit each other on a daily basis (weather permitting) to roughhouse, romp, and bark — to generally relish each other’s company.
Just as Casside is content with this new arrangement, in many ways, recognizing it is not permanent, so am I. It has given me time to reflect on what’s really important. That translates into conversations with neighbors we don’t normally see; phone calls to friends who live in other states for in-depth conversations vs. Facebook posts; waving to other neighbors at the mailbox as we pass by; saying hello to unknown dog walkers we meet on longer expeditions outside the boundary of our own cul de sacs (an added benefit being a bit of much needed exercise); watching movies we always meant to see but never had time to view in the theater; doing a bit of creative writing; experimenting with different wine varietals (enough on that subject); reading — books, magazines and newspapers that have no relation to our jobs.
It was during this last activity that I began to discover a wonderful and amazing furry silver lining to this crisis — the feel-good pandemic stories about pet adoptions. Many shelters have notices stating, “No dogs currently available for adoption – all have found loving homes”. Other shelters, forced to close their doors, have seen similar rapid upswings in terms of foster homes and pet adoptions. And, really, why not? This is the perfect time to bond with a new pet. Working and schooling from home, limited opportunity to travel — whatever the reasons — folks now have the time to spend acclimating (translation — house training) their new furever friends.
Let’s remember that social isolation can lead to depression, loneliness, anxiety, and countless other stress-related diseases. Pets provide the emotional support, not to mention the companionship, we all so desperately crave now. For years, studies have proven the positive effects of pets — lowered blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rates — just to name a few.
Anyone still on the fence about adopting need only check out social media to be convinced: Skype visits, live-streaming videos, Facebook photos, phone conversations, drive-thru pickup or curbside adoption all can convince even the most die-hard holdouts that (to quote one shelter) “a pet can be the best quarantine buddy ever — and they’re certainly more fun than a 2500 piece jigsaw puzzle”. So, what are you waiting for?
Karen Silva, Ed.D., teaches in JWU’s online graduate degree programs. If you’re interested in pursuing your master’s degree, consider exploring your options from JWU Online. Learn from experts with real-world experience. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].