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Social distancing sounds simple, but …

By Scott Hunt

The Dog Grumbler

 

WE are social distancing.

It sounds simple but it has required some tricky rearranging.

The dog has no idea why all the routines have changed, but she is adapting as dogs do and making the most of things.

There are bonuses for her and she wasted no time capitalising on them – more time on the bed watching News Breakfast each morning; more time at home in the garden terrorising birds, opportunities to revisit a bone buried long ago.

We miss our friends but are making new ones.

We visit the beach at quiet times.

People stay apart but their dogs still socialise.

There are calm dogs and crazy dogs of course.

Just as there are calm and crazy humans — and many shades of grey in between.

The crazy, uncontrollable dogs however, seem more often than not to be in the company of tense, highly strung owners.

The calm dogs on the other hand invariably accompany relaxed, sociable people.

My aging back keeps me from walking too far, but the dog examines the locality while I sit and watch, and last week an old dog detoured to say hello as it passed on the beach with its owner.

It knew we were friendly.

I think it knew my back hurt.

It came and stood where I could scratch it and lingered for half a minute or so.

It exchanged perfunctory protocols with my dog and then devoted it’s time to me.

I could feel bones through its shabby coat and there was a slight limp in its gate, but this was a contented dog enjoying life, company and a sunny day.

We exchanged some oxytocin and he or she left to catch up to the boss walking ahead.

I didn’t get a good look at the owner, but watching that old dog manage a careful but happy canter as it hurried to catch up, I realised that I knew some important things about her.

She was patient.

She was lucky and she knew it.

She was loved.

She was enjoying the sun, the sand, the air and the beautiful harbor, and especially the company of a friend like no other.

Dogs live to travel in company and when you understand this there are few pleasures greater than ambling along, knowing that your dog will catch up, that it will always find you; that it will stop to sniff, to socialise and enjoy social media, but never forget who’s leading the walk.

She knows she is lucky.

So does her dog.

For the lucky, isolation is no big deal.

We don’t need to shake hands, to engage in small talk — our representatives are on the job.

We don’t lose touch with the rhythm of life because our offsider will remind us about the important things.

We have access to therapy most people don’t experience.

In this case, someone else’s offsider reminded me that a bad back and some solitude are just small stuff.

It noticed me and chose to go out of its way with no bidding — not because it was itchy and needed a scratch, but because it somehow knew I needed a little therapy.

We returned to the car with a slightly happier limp, a little more oxytocin running through the system and a quiet song in our heart.

Many of us are isolated — but some of us are never alone.