Well, we are all still here.
A year later.
I'm not here to argue the merits of locking down or not locking down. I'm not going to push my personal views on the safety or necessity of getting vaccinated. I definitely won't bore you on the economic cost of this whole disaster.
Everyone has written their views about this and the reality is this:
We are all in this together. Whether we want it or not.
Our world has become a radically different place.
The idea of "thriving" or "jet-setting" seems laughable nowadays. The language has changed to "getting through" "surviving" and "coping."
Funny thing - this isn't describing the horrors of the disease but the world we have created to protect us from it.
Instead, I'm going to talk about my experience getting my dog Snowy. And how my little Balinese street rat helped me survive the worst parts of being isolated from the world.
Considering this pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Maybe my experiences can help you get through the hard times ahead too.
Meet Snowy the Bali dog
I found myself living in Bali for a few months at the outset of Corona. My landlord at the time, an overweight Australian man, came home with a mangy, flea-infested mutt (I've always wanted to say that!) from the bar.
He planned on keeping the pup, but after a few days, decided drinking at a pub was harder with a puppy. The little tyke had to go.
To say it was love, at first sight, might not be true but it was definitely the 2nd or 3rd look.
From that moment on, I've spent no more than one week away from my dog. He has become my best friend and one of the most positive influences in my life.
A year living with a dog during the pandemic has opened my eyes to just how beneficial an animal can be.
My furry socialite
I'm an extrovert.
At least I think I am?
This pandemic has turned a lot of behaviors on their head and now I'm not so sure anymore.
Months spent sitting inside watching tv.... actively avoiding people. Has slowly made me less and less likely to seek out social interactions.
I understand as an extrovert it crucial for my energy and mental health but for some reason I find more and more excuses to not go out.
Step in doggo!
Snowy is the most social dog on the planet. Having to walk Snowy every day along the beach is an exercise in interactions. He will run up to every person, force them to play with him, and get me to talk to the owner as a consequence.
I hate to think where my mental health would be without these daily walks and I truly worry at the people locked in cities for months at a time.
He Keeps me present
Over this past year, I have noticed myself becoming anxious more and more often.
I'm no expert, but I think it has something to do with the amount of time I spend looking at a screen.
I have gone from surfing, rock climbing, running, and scuba diving. To watching tv for hours and then when I'm bored, turning to my phone. On a good day, I spend 6 hours looking at a screen. On a bad day, it can be as high as 16...
All that time essentially turning myself off from the world has left my brain desperate for sensory feedback. The feel of the wind on my cheek, the sound of waves crashing, or the texture of the sand between my toes.
My daily walk with Snowy used to involve my phone.
Nowadays I take this hour like a moment to unwind and re-experience being present and alive. My teacher on this trip is the wise and all-knowing guru Snowy pup.
What is it about petting and playing with a dog that is so relaxing and comforting? Whatever it is going, down to the beach doesn't help me connect as deeply without my dog there to guide me.
He strengthens more than my mental health
If there was one reason alone to introduce a pet to your life right now, this would be it.
All that time spent outside in the big old world. Getting fresh air and good sunlight on your skin. Exposing yourself to god knows what germs your dog rolled in at the beach.
All that exercise you are getting everyday walking for half an hour or more.
It improves your immune system.
All this talk about pro or anti-vaccine, it's enough to make anyone go crazy. The only thing I know I should be focusing on is keeping my own immune system as strong as possible. Luckily living with Snowy means that base is covered by day-to-day living.
If you are lazy like me then anything that makes your life easier is a definite bonus!
If you have never considered getting an animal of your own. or, you are someone who has been coming up with endless reasons to not get one. now might be the perfect time to adopt a little furball into your life.
The pandemic has been difficult on humans but it has been even harder on our four-legged friends.
The animal shelters are full, with more and more people unable to afford to look after them without job security. If you can afford it, not only will you save their life, they might save yours.
There was always a reason why it wasn't the right time to get a dog either financially or responsibility-wise.
But, not a day goes by that I'm not openly thankful for having Snowy in my life.
Dang guess I better add "teaching gratefulness" to his list of lessons.
He's such a good boy...