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A dog’s take on the Coronavirus

A black labrador guide dog | A dog's take on the Coronavirus

There is no evidence to suggest that dogs can contract or transmit COVID-19, which is good as we are extremely social animals. The usual hygiene practices still apply, like washing your hands after petting us and no kissing or licking.  Being guide dog owners, Mummy and Daddy had in boxes of hand sanitiser as they use it all the time.  Oh, and no sharing food with us… I’m a Labrador-retriever cross so I can’t believe I just said that!

During this time of social isolation, the lives of dogs have changed dramatically. With so many pet parents confined to their homes, dogs have never been happier.  Dogs are adjusting to their homes being full of their favourite people.  Dogs and children are spending more time together.  We can be the best of friends but we communicate very differently – dogs find it hard to tell children that they don’t like something, while children behave in ways which dogs can find worrying.  Unlike working dogs, who go everywhere with their owners, pet dogs are normally at home all day simply waiting for their parents to return.  Post coronavirus pandemic it will be hard for dogs to re-adjust to being home alone again.

Dogs are sensitive to changes in their people.  We really do know when humans are having a rough time.  We use a rich variety of signals to figure it out.  When Heidi and I guided Daddy and Mummy into town we couldn’t help but notice the differences.  Heidi kept looking at all the closed shops, trying to work it out.  I’ve taken mummy to the supermarket during the hour set aside for older and vulnerable people to shop – a surreal shopping experience for us both.  One lady ignored the new distancing rules to kindly enquire if I had adequate food supplies.  Mummy was able to reassure her that 20 kilos of dog food was delivered just before all this happened.

As long as you are not feeling sick, take advantage of this time to enjoy some extra playtime with your dogs and enjoy mind relaxing walks.  Fresh air and exercise may alleviate some of the anxiety that you may be feeling.  Don’t deny your dog daily exercise as it keeps us all fit, healthy and happy.  Dogs give our owners an excuse to go for a walk or the motivation to get some exercise.  We also try to instil routine, which we love.   

While you’re out walking your dog, it’s still a great time to acknowledge other people – you don’t need to get up close to do it.  Smile and give a ‘thumbs up’ or wave.  Dogs are still great networking enablers … just remember to maintain a 2metre distance.

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