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May 13, 2020

Stressful Beginnings Equal Happy Endings For Rescues

By Dianne L. Grigg

We are all connected whether we want to acknowledge it or not. There is an invisible web of energy that we share with our family, friends, community and the world. This network may stretch and bend, but ultimately when things go south, it is those links that get us through. They protect us from catastrophic harm. At no time in history has this been truer. Never before has this global matrix been more evident. We sympathize, empathize and reach out to each other. The pandemic of 2020 is a turning point in history, and we are pressed to take notice – imposed by an invisible foe to open our eyes and see firsthand the unbearable, unspeakable truths that the COVID-19 virus has given birth to.

The motto has been that we are in this together, for better or worse. This pandemic has taken our systematic structured world and turned it upside down. We are not able to go to work, and life is at a standstill. Our creatures, through no fault of their own, are stuck with us all day every day, with no end in sight. Think about our animals, many used to their own routines, their own flow, watching us move smoothly and readily through our day. They are now quizzical, annoyed, befuddled. Some are downright elated that they have someone to play with every moment of the day. Even while we are working virtually, our friends just want to have fun.

There’s no more blithely staring out a sunny window, contemplating everything and nothing. Gone are the quiet naps which last for hours. And yet, once the initial surprise wears off, there is a unique realization that this arrangement may not be bad. Our animals bring us comfort, reduce stress, mend loneliness and boredom. Their restorative energy allows us to better cope with the uncertainty of this single, catastrophic event. Our best friends, by their very nature, reduce negativity and moodiness.

As days melt into one another and time just keeps on rolling, as the news and social media pummel us with perhaps too much information, isolation has proved to have a positive side, fostering and adoption. Never before has the human-animal bond been stronger. The desperate need for companionship has produced a monumental request for companion animals all across the country. Decisions are made quickly as social distancing precludes visiting local shelters. Many animals are looked at virtually. Adoptions and fostering applications are completed online, and picking up a new friend is done outside. And yet it is working.

Dr. Apryl Steele, president and CEO of Dumb Friends Leaque in Denver, states there is a waiting list of 2,000 people wanting to foster. San Francisco SPCA has a list of 1,600 people championing to foster animals in need. The Oregon Humane Society has 1,000 volunteers. The Washington D.C. Humane Rescue Alliance had 1,000 requests in a 10-day period. When humans get sick, animals suffer. When the caregiver is not around, these animals need care. The act of fostering and possibly adopting a shelter animal makes room for the many who have nowhere to go. Fostering promotes socialization and takes an animal from isolation to having a real chance of a forever home.

All of humanity and nature rests upon the coming together of collective resources to battle a foe we cannot see. It is an opportunity to do good. When we open our hearts and homes to the companion animals in our community, we are sending a message of hope that life will go on. The victory is sweeter when we have a best friend by our side. Anecdotes abound as people post stories about being with their animals all day every day. Many are funny, others poignant. Yet the consensus is this: we would rather be with our animal sidekicks than be without them. As the world keeps spinning, their energy keeps us going.

Change is inevitable. Love keeps us in motion. It quietly gives us reasons to be optimistic and know that something good will come out of all this. That hope sometimes comes in little bits, like the wag of a tail, a contented purr or the tweet of a feathered conversation. When things return to a new normal, and they will, our best friends will wake up one day and wonder where we are. They will miss us, long for us. Look for us. Well, maybe for 10 minutes. Then they will sigh, stretch and take a nice, long nap.