"Think Like a Dog"... or Something Like That 

After a long night of ‘fighting’ to get my pillow back, I’m greeted each morning with licks and snuggles from my eleven-month-old Pomeranian Spitz. Nights can be tricky because there tends to be a lot of groggy pushing and pulling of the blanket and pillow as my dog, Theo tries to take up as much room as he can on my bed. By the morning, I’ve completely given in and we can both be found fast asleep lying right next to each other. As of today, I’ve officially given up on training him to stay the night in his own bed. It’s no secret that having a pet at home, specifically a dog, can completely change your life. There’s no one else in the world who can give you as much unconditional love and affection that a dog does. No matter what, he’s always happy to see me, be it a couple of hours apart or even after being away for as long as it takes to take a shower, he always greets me with the same level of energy and enthusiasm. 

smiling puppy in dog bed by jamie street Photo by Jamie Street from Unsplash Since he’s so young, the only life he’s known is one amid a global pandemic. That means he is in fact the most spoiled little puppy who spends all day picking which family member to cuddle with depending on his mood. According to him all four of us almost always work from home, spend all our time at home, eat at home, and devote all our time to be at his beck and call. He’s living every dog’s dream, as are most domestic pets and animals at this time. With nothing better to do, each and every person in my family has spent some time alone with Theo, casually talking to, playing with, and letting him know how much we love him, and he’s enjoyed every single moment of it. It is in these moments that our thoughts are consumed with nothing else but him. All the worries and concerns of the day seem to fade away.

Normally, no matter how hard we try to avoid talking about the “elephant in the room,” so to speak, of the pandemic or quarantine or the vaccine which we all hope comes soon, there are few times when we can totally avoid the topic and it always sneaks its way back into the conversation. I’ve myself set out a disclaimer of sorts with friends before starting conversations, saying, “Please, can we just not talk about it!” but still, it comes up as we off-handedly discuss our post-college plans or even our next month “plans.” The only person, or living being with whom this conversation has actually never come up with, is my dog. It’s never been mentioned or subtly hinted at, it’s just completely outside of the little bubble of social interaction when I’m with him. Unfortunately, this feeling is short-lived and as soon as I avert my gaze, it all comes rushing back and the state of the world, the sheer irresponsibility of people who choose to ignore the virus and the human right atrocities which occur every day around us come rushing back, all while Theo continues to race around the house playing with a ball between his teeth. 

It’s funny how dogs are supposed to be able to sense our feelings, yet he hasn’t seemed to pick up on the low morales and the overwhelming sense of despair we’re all feeling right now. According to him, all that matters is that we’re here together, having a good time and eating good food. He doesn’t seem to care about what tomorrow brings, as long as today ends on a solid note and can’t bother with “what-ifs,” only “what now?”, and I envy him for that. While I’m so grateful for this extra time that I’ve gotten to spend with my family, as we learn to make the best of this unfortunate situation together, sharing laughs, tears, and pizza slices, I know we’re all ready to go back to “real life.” It only begs the question, what does this “real-life” look like now?

 

mom and puppy Nancy Aviña As I think about that question, I’ve decided to adopt my dog’s perspective; one where I remain present, grounded and content in the moment I have, rather than panicking about all that has happened or is yet to happen. So during these “unprecedented”, “unpredictable” and never seen before times, try thinking like a dog. Make happiness your priority, find reasons to smile, eat well, and spend your time with the people you love. It may be the only way we can find to get through these next couple of months in one piece.