Here is Cassandra’s newest Lhasa Apso column from the June AKC Gazette about surviving this pandemic. Thank you Cass!
Lhasa Apso column
Staying close while apart
Dog folk are breed apart. Infected with a passion that many find inexplicable, we are loathe to give up our weekend wars fought in 40-foot by 40-foot rings. Which is why the cancellation of dog show weekends and clusters, currently to the end of May and who knows beyond that, is a reminder of the serious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. So I sit in my home, hoping that boredom and social-distancing are my contribution to my friends’ and neighbors’ health, not to mention my own. Fortunately, we have our dogs for companionship.
Our community is close-knit. When one falls, many are there to lend a hand. But the setting that holds our social glue is missing. Our community is sitting at home, or should be. As I clean long-overdue closets and cupboards, fill bags that I cannot deliver to charities, and for once have more time than I need to groom dogs, my thoughts also turn to what would happen to my dogs if I were to become too ill to care for them. I have legal documents detailing what happens in the event of my death. But if I am gravely ill, what happens? Worse, if no one knows I am unable to care for myself or my dogs, what happens?
Stores of food and supplies, legal directives and money cannot replace the most important element in disaster planning: the human connection. We cannot do this alone and we definitely are all in this together.
Maintaining a support network is critical. Those who live alone, despite age, should have a contact with whom they check in daily. Whether it’s social media, a phone call or e-mail, contact is crucial. A missed contact is a signal something is amiss. Keep a help-chain of friends and family listing names and contact information of who is called first and down the line as options are eliminated. Dogs can be cared for in-home or spread among a few individuals - who can go to whom? Who can come to the house for routine care, to groom dogs or help disperse dogs among friends, or take them to a pre-arranged kennel for boarding? In the case of the latter, an agreement for payment can be made in advance. None of us wants our dogs to wind up in a shelter and risk being adopted out. Therefore, pre-planning is essential.
While we practice social-distancing for personal safety, we must avoid emotional distancing. Connections to family and friend are a keystone to both emotional and physical health. Peace of mind about the care of our dogs in the event of personal illness contributes to emotional well-being. While each of us hopes we will not need to activate our plan, someone inevitably will be affected and need help. Dog people always rise to help each other – but can only do so if they know help is needed.
Many people who remain healthy are suffering financially. Superintendents and their staff, handlers and assistants, vendors, people who work at show venues all rely on dog shows for their living. Exhibitors who lost day jobs lack money to pay bills. Funds are needed by local food banks or other organizations that bolster people’s basic needs when times are bad. Support government efforts to help workers and health care professionals. Support Take the Lead; undoubtedly there will be sick members of our community needing financial help.
Keep your distance physically, but stay connected emotionally. Stay healthy.
Cassandra de la Rosa, The American Lhasa Apso Club, e-mail: email@example.com