Diluting the lock down, a return to normal? Eased lock downs have us enthused about what can only be described as a new normal. As we celebrate this new normal, let us not forget the dangers of Covid 19. It is vital we continue to protect the aged and infants, vulnerable and immune compromised. The best we can do as a global community is to educate ourselves and stay vigilant. The globe is on a collective journey, an exploration, in unchartered territory, we must navigate with caution, but not be so afraid at every turn that we retreat.
How do we deal with our pets in this strange new world? By now we’ve come to realise there is no rule book, no government, individual or organisation has the answer. We have no frame of reference and pets have never been a more integral part of our lives. A diluted lock down is like learning how to drive. There is great excitement at the prospect of freedom, but a real fear of seizing it.
Lock down pets, shelter dogs and cats are the heroes of this pandemic. They kept us sane, and entertained. Social media stars, they cut across political, social and cultural lines. For as long as living memory serves us, pets have been play companions for children, working dogs, companions, hunting dogs, military and police dogs the list is endless. Now they’ve become integral support systems.
Diluting a lock down, seems to be the only exit strategy. No country or city, big or small has ‘lifted’ a lock down. We must begin to learn the do’s and dont’s of a new normal. The powers that be want us, the people, to be mindful and prepared for the next one.
Veterinarians, scientists, epidemiologists, and governments wisely used lock down -dinning it into us as a citizenry – there is no return to normal, only a new normal. Which means our relationships and interaction with our pets alter permanently. Our relationships alter with human beings, caregivers, travellers the list is endless. Calls from countries for the no return to normal without vaccines, are from privileged countries and peoples.
Far from cold formal boardrooms, our studies, libraries, kitchens and living rooms now host individuals we would never have dreamed set foot in our homes! Who knew shorts, a formal business shirt and dog would one day be standard attendees at boardroom meetings! We’ve come to realise formal is good, but informal is better! How else do you explain pets leading Zoom meetings? And we’re asking, do we want to return to normal? Keeping your dog or cat isolated in an imposed daily quarantine when you can be by their side.
We live in a time of unprecedented democratic access to information. There’s a catch, you must learn to sift through the propaganda, publicity and bluster, and make an educated informed decision. Use this to your advantage, as the lock down dilutes, and we find ourselves in the new normal.
At Oliver we’re not in the business of selling animals- and never will be. Throughout the lock down because we’re a website we are accessible. Searches and questions move online and the primary enquiry we have received apart from rehabilitation aids for pets. . . is adoption/ purchase of animals.
This enthusiasm is both encouraging and daunting. Encouraging because, when an unwanted animal anywhere on this planet finds a home we rejoice. Daunting because if the new normal aligns itself to the old normal (human nature reverts to its comfort zone sooner rather than later) newly adopted and purchased pets are in trouble. Lock down puppies and kittens will end up back in shelters, overburdening staff. Novice foster homes are not equipped to raise well behaved puppies and kittens. This is a huge burden to shelter managers and volunteers who must now retrain pandemic puppies and kittens.
Now we could get all teacherly here and give you a perfect plan on how to prepare your pets for diluting the lock down. Instead, we’ll give you six suggestions on how to ease your pets back to self reliance. Give them the confidence to jump back on the kitchen counter and couch, because they know that they are Home Alone!! You are the best judge of your situation so be practical yet guarded.
6 things to keep in mind when you head out with your dog
1. Start by moving to another room in your home for a couple of hours a day. Close the door on your dog or cat if you have to, your goal is to create physical distance.
2. If your pets are crate trained and have been ‘running free’ for the lock down duration, start a gentle return to the crate. A couple of minutes a day.
3. Start making noise, but not so much that your neighbours call the police! City pets have enjoyed a peaceful couple of months. They need to readjust to the return of traffic and noisy streets. Make sure your dog is secured on a leash and a well fitting collar when outdoors. Sudden noises and loud sounds will scare them after this brief tranquil period.
4. Walking your pets has changed. If you rely on a dog walker, take extra precautions to make sure they know how to walk your dog. Humans with masks and gloves is not a normal sight for your cat or dog. Get them used to the ‘new look.’
5. For countries with large street dog and cat populations, be mindful of the fact that they’ve had a free run of quiet streets. These dogs and cats must re learn to deal with people and pets on leashes. So even old street dog and cat friends may need some time to get reacquainted. Please be patient with them.
6. Seasons have changed while we were in Covid-19 quarantine. Pets have spent an unusual length of time indoors. If you are stepping out into summer, or warmer weather than when we retreated, make sure to keep your pets hydrated.
Your pet is your emotional support, lock down buddy and the world’s best psychiatrist. Daily or weekly Zoom meetings and weather reports are fun because cats, dogs, and kids have become a part of our work day.
I don’t care if they had a pet snake, racoon or spider. If you ask a pet owner of a departed pet, what they wish they’d done different- you’ll get the same response. Time the’d wish they had more Time.
If this horrendous pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value or time, freedom and kindness. Value the time you have with your pets, be kind to them and if you have the capacity to work from home, if for nothing else, do it for your pets. Do not use them as distractions and tools while you need them, discarding them or sending back to a shelter because your life has returned to ‘normal’.
Lock downs are the dominant news, online and off, they’ve captured our minds and lives in real time. As we muddle through this Orwellian dream (nightmare) Animal Farm and Major’s wisdom made sense of it all.
“I merely repeat, remember your duty of enmity towards Man and all his ways. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes upon four legs is a friend. And remember also that in fighting against Man, we must not come to resemble him.”Major, Animal Farm by George Orwell
Pig wisdom from Major, has got us thinking, how long will it be before our reality is Planet of the Apes? Humanity proves the opposable thumb took us “out of the jungle” and into a pandemic. We couldn’t stay away from the jungle and went back in not to visit but to loot and plunder. Let’s prove Major wrong and go back to being friends. What walks on 2 legs has a chance to make peace, do not squander the opportunity.
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