Opinion

It’s a Dog’s Life

A friend recently sent me an adorable pic of a raggedy dog with a wide, jowly grin.

The caption read: ‘Pandemic pooches everywhere.’

It couldn’t be more apt. Probably the happiest beings by far right now are the dogs around the world because owning a pooch has become a symbol of freedom. And dogs are the ultimate winners. It’s no longer a chore or a bore to walk the dog but a source of great joy and anticipation. And not just for the dog. In fact, if dog owners had tails, they would be wagging too.

You could say that owning a dog in this pandemic has become the ultimate get out of jail free card. A genuine reason to be out and about.  Not that all dog owners are deserving of special treatment. Going on the informed reports of another friend, (she hears all trending gossip in a well-heeled medical hub), there are many ‘fake’ dog owners who are using pooches for their own ends. They’re walking dogs, (sometimes borrowed), that once barely saw beyond the back fence. Their owners, (or borrowers) are having secret rendezvous with friends, and the dog is a mere decoy.

These imposters are easy to spot, she notes. Simply observe the walkers in shiny new lycra and full makeup, barely working up a sweat. And note that the dog is dragging the human. Also observe that the dog in question is usually a highly strung, slightly overweight pooch that lifts its leg on every blade of grass and has absolutely no idea how to walk on a leash. They’re also devoid of social etiquette. And they sniff every passing dog’s nether regions and that of their owners for good measure. But who’s complaining? These dogs are a picture of pure, unadulterated joy. Long may it last.

Amid the COVID-19 gloom, it is also encouraging to note that dogs are not only a ticket to freedom but a darn good substitute for a hug. If you can’t hug a human, there’s nothing in the whole world better than hugging a dog, which is why animal shelters have reportedly seen an escalation in adoptions. That’s good news! And not only for dogs, but for cats too. I’m sure if given a choice, many in isolation would be choosing pet over human.

Our feline remains a source of eternal vexation for the dogs who walk past our front gate. He maintains a permanent air of bored disregard and lounges on his back no matter what the impending danger. He even remained in situ recently while a Groodle came so close he made nose contact. It could be that our ginger fluff ball is too darned fat to run away from anything. Any day now I’m going to have to put a “Do not feed the cat” sign on the fridge door because no one seems to check if he’s been fed or not. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s not the only one being a tad overfed in this pandemic. Our resident neighbourhood bull, George, is also showing signs of overindulgence. Normally quite frisky when offered something delectable, he is currently less enthusiastic than usual. Just this week he lumbered over from the far end of the field when I beckoned with an indulgent air of ‘Ok, so you walked all this way with an apple—may as well eat it, Human.’ He took the apple and slowly crunched, but I could tell this wasn’t his first. And nor would it be his last. 

Although right now, it seems that it’s a dog’s life. And that’s no bull.

© 2020 Lois Nicholls