So there’s this bug going around…
No, I don’t have it — yet.
Am I the only one out there not freaked out, but still get that it is a real thing? I mean, I know I will likely get it, or at least be exposed to it if I haven’t been already. I also assume that, sadly, I will know someone who dies. That’s an awful thought, but the odds are likely.
In the meantime, I am not sitting around wringing my hands and obsessively watching press conferences or reading charts or graphs or statistics.
My life has changed, sure. Date nights are gone. So is any personal space. My activities at home have to be curtailed to accommodate our home being turned into an office and school space.
The first time it started feeling real for our family was on our trip to Seattle Feb 27-March 2nd. That was about the time it started breaking open in Washington. As we wandered through museums and tourist attractions, rode planes and Ubers and ferries and monorails, ate samples at food markets and didn’t wash our hands enough, the bug was out there, closing in.
On Wednesday the 10th, HWSNBN was sent home from work to self-quarantine. He hasn’t been back to work since. That was the first way the pandemic has affected the family. We are lucky that he is still working — but keeping puppies quiet during his conference calls has been challenging.
At my weekly marketing meeting for Secondhand Hounds, the animal rescue I work for, we discussed possibly changing our upcoming events. I reached out the next day, Thursday, to my upcoming puppy parties (that’s what I do: I run our puppy party division), assured them that animals can’t spread the virus, but if they wanted to reschedule, that’s fine. No one took me up on the offer.
The next day we sent another letter, informing that all events were canceled, whether we liked it or not.
About that time my daughter and son were starting to feel the ripple effects where they are.
Singer Girl goes to school in Michigan (Go Blue!). She loves it there. I told her to prepare for things to change. I told her that her A Cappella group’s trip to Boston would likely be canceled. She said no way (it was canceled). I told her folks would soon be leaving. She said no way. The local kids started heading home temporarily. The school canceled classes for two days to decide how to handle the situation. They went to online classes. She wanted to see what would happen with all the social stuff. When St Patrick’s Day and Aca prom and here sorority’s charity event were all canceled, she was stunned.
I told her she would be coming home soon. She said no. She was still working; in fact, she was working more than she ever had, to cover the shifts of all those who had left already. She also worried about exposing us to anything she had come in contact with.
I told her she would be coming home. She said she didn’t want to leave her friends. I said just start emotionally planning for it. She rolled her eyes, and we hung up.
Two hours later she called and said, “Ok: come get me.”
So last Thursday I drove 10 hours to Michigan. We packed her up the next day and drove back on Saturday.
Now, we all have to juggle wifi and quiet time so she can do her studies, HWSNBN can do his work, and I can stay sane while they step all over my routine.
Sailor Boy is supposed to change duty stations this summer — to Italy. Not sure if that’s going to happen now. The military is taking some major steps to deal with the virus, and his day to day life has drastically changed. He calls every day, and we discuss the latest development. Will he go to Italy? Will he stay with his current ship? Will he deploy? Will the navy help him move? Will I have to go to Washington and help?
Weirdly it’s like wartime. It’s what he signed up for, I tell him. In a lot of ways, this whole gig reminds me of what I imagined WW2 was like. Folks are sacrificing and stockpiling. We are being told to use supplies wisely. Many common items are hard to come by. People are churning out homemade masks and hospital gowns to protect health care workers. Neighbors are checking in on one another. Again, we all are waiting for that shoe to drop: who will we know that will pay the ultimate price?
Rescue is all weird now too. We have been told to stop doing spay and neuter surgeries. We’ve already cut our office staff to a skeleton crew. On the plus side, more people than ever before want to foster. Sadly, we are unable to take in as many animals as we usually do, as we have cut down on transports to minimize potential volunteer exposure. So we have fosters just waiting to help, and we can’t get needy animals to their waiting homes.
On a day to day level, my life isn’t radically different. I am not worried. My philosophy for most of my life has been to plan for the worst, hope for the best.
In 2015, I saw a movie that pretty much changed my life: Bridge of Spies. Tom Hanks stars as an attorney on cold war America, called upon to defend an accused Russian spy. He funds the situation distasteful, to say the least, but does his civic duty Upon meeting the spy in jail, Hanks’s character explains the gravity of the situation, while the accused spy calmly listens. hanks, exasperated, asks why he is so calm. Isn’t he worried?”
“Would it help?” the Russian replies.
Would it help? Does worrying help? No, of course not. It just stresses you out. So from that moment on, whenever I get that nagging feeling, I pause and take a breath. Rather than waste energy worrying, I take action. Do what I can to take control of the situation, then let it go.
That’s where I am now: I have done what I can to prepare. Now I breathe. And wait.
Thanks to everyone who reached out to me after yesterday’s blog post. It’s tough to know your crowd — some folks don’t get it. Thankfully, they have kept their mouths shut to me (and I mean thankfully for them. I do not go gently into anything. Good night)
Today my son reached out to me with a dreadful tale about animal abuse. Some (can’t really call them human, or even people, so I will go with the most polite moniker with which to bestow them) ASSHATS decided that owning a puppy was too hard. After their 8 month old labradoodle chewed up a pair of tennis shoes, they took the puppy to the woods and shot it.
Luckily, the police were called. The puppy is doing well, and will be adopted by one of the police officers.
The Asshats are in the brig. Hopefully the Navy can punish them more than a civilian court. In most instances, animal cruelty/abuse/neglect is a misdemeanor. In Washington state, where this happened, I believe the minimum punishment is $150 fine, the max is $10,000 and five years in jail, presumably for repeat offenders. ( found this link helpful, btw: http://www.dopplr.com/animal-cruely-laws/).
Here in Minnesota, my rescue just last night brought in an owner surrender Dachshund named Uno. Uno is struggling, but making it so far. (to donate to his care, go to https://www.facebook.com/SecondhandHounds/)
Nope. This is not a stray. This woofer had an OWNER.
Today I want to reach out to all of you animal lovers out there. So many folks have asked what they can do for me and my family in our time of grieving for Penny — a dog who may have come from a breeder (I didn’t know better back then) but has helped so many foster dogs learn how to be forever pets.
You can help by:
- Fostering. Find a local foster-based rescue and open your doors to an animal. At our rescue, there is no cost to the fosters — all expenses are covered by Secondhand Hounds (including massive, expensive medical care). Fosters choose which animals they foster, and they choose the animal’s new family. Most rewarding thing I’ve ver done. Yes, it’s hard to let them go. But it’s worth it (in 5 years we’ve never kept one!)
2. Adopt, don’t shop. Don’t use a breeder. Yeah, there are good breeders out there. But there are far more animals killed daily in shelters (some of them purebreds, if you care about that) than you want to know:
NEW YORK, N.Y.– The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today released national shelter estimates showing dramatic decreases in shelter intake and euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats. The ASPCA reports that an estimated 1.5 million companion animals are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year, a decrease from about 2.6 million estimated in 2011. Contributing to this reduction is an 18.5 percent increase in national adoptions. An estimated 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats), up from 2.7 million adoptions in 2011. (March 2017) https://www.aspca.org/about-us/press-releases/aspca-releases-new-data-showing-remarkable-progress-homeless-dogs-cats
So yes: the numbers are better. But 1.5 million animals last year!!!
3. Spay/neuter your pets. yes, you love your Fluffy. But don’t breed “just to see” what the pups/kittens will be like. Every litter brought into this world means another litter dies.
4. LOVE your animals! Get them preventative care (you do NOT want me to put up pictures of a heartworm-ridden hart). Vaccinate. Keep their teeth clean.
Do not leave your pet in a car. ‘Nuff said. (and fyi: the police are getting more and more ok with breaking windows to save animals. So there’s that).
5. Support bigger penalties for animal cruelty. The animals are insanely forgiving. We don’t have to be.
I would love to invite you all to share your stories with me — pets you have loved and lost, your forays into rescue, etc. If I can convince just one person to help in Penny’s name, it will help ease our pain.
Now: go hug your pet! Walk your dog, stroke your cat, make googly eyes at your fish. Enjoy them!