Written by Robin Shor
I recently had to hire a dog trainer (again). Like all problems, aggression or desocialization is never the work of the moment. You come to the realization that you can no longer ignore the dog’s behavior before something bad happens.
When we met with the trainer, she asked questions like: “how long has she been like that?” It was a good question. I needed to dig down into my memory and answer the question honestly- because what would be the point of hiring a trainer if you are not going to be honest and accurate in accessing the dog’s behavior? Working out the timeline of Dolly’s fall from grace (or deterioration in good behavior) coincided with the start of COVID.
Pre -COVID Dolly had been in training; she graduated from doggy school and was still a young pup, and was socialized, even reasonably well behaved. Then March 2020 arrived and everything changed. Each morning, we watched the news (we worshipped the daily connection that showed that the world still existed), and watched the people from channel 4 chatting, updating us on the weather and on COVID. I would go to work and drive down Needham Street under the best conditions (it is a traffic nightmare, and it was deserted). To look into the Marshalls parking lot and not see a car, was surreal.
Starbucks was closed as well as all the local restaurants. Splash was open nominally; our doors were locked but we were considered essential workers and we all came into the office each day. While people talked about learning new skills and trying to survive the isolation, I bumped along, working 9- 5 (we had reduced our hours) and spent my days working on projects in towns where work was allowed and dealing with parts and issues. I was fortunate, I had a bit of normalness, in driving to the office each day and having a little interaction with my co-workers. My dog, however, did not have the same good fortune. Her doggy daycare was canceled, and the dog walker did not come. She stayed at home with my husband and they took their solitary walks alone.
Things gradually changed and we all welcomed a bit of normalcy with things re-opening, but there were plenty of indications that things were far from normal: a dog that after a year and a half of not seeing anyone enter our condo unit decided that no one really needed to come into our condo. It takes a lot of patience and training to get the dog back to the place she was pre-COVID. It seems like going back to normal is not as quick as getting out of normal. We are all stuck dealing with backorders and stuff that has not come back into production at the speed it was pre-COVID. We have all scrambled in our various ways during COVID: to keep working, stay in business and stay sane.
People still get COVID. We are all affected by it even though it does not seem as scary and out of control. Factories are not producing products at the same rate and things are still back-ordered. Essential components are sometimes on the witness protection list and have crazy backlogs on certain items.
Although my awareness of Dolly’s increasing anxiety with people crept up on me, poking me in the nose and demanding my notice, it was not surprising. We all suffered during COVID; postponing weddings and other social events, and visits with elderly parents and children who were extremely isolated. In hindsight, I wish I had paid more attention, although I do not know how much I could have done about it. I felt like the manufacturers who were stopped dead in their tracks, being forced to shut down factories, and trying to protect their employees. Dolly appears to be recovering, like the rest of us, as we navigate this new world post-COVID.