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Pets Can Be A Help During Pandemic

I was raised on a dairy farm and so living with animals was a part of my growing up. Back in those days, we had a relatively small number of milking cows–30 to 40–and so each one had its own name. My favorite cow of all time was Doris. She was a large, mostly white Holstein who was deliberate and never in a hurry. When I milked her, she would turn her big head, and almost smile as if to thank me.

I understand that cows are not house pets yet they still have their own presence. When I was a teenager, I would be milking sometimes at 5:30 a.m. in the morning. I would be listening to Doc Webster (Dennis’ father) on the radio and would sometimes talk back to him as if he were listening. And, sometimes, I would talk to the cows. Doc Webster couldn’t hear me and the cows really took no notice but (as my friends will attest) I have always enjoyed talking, and so it gave me some relief from the monotony of milking.

I think it is that way when you have pets around the house, especially during COVID. You are not getting much human interaction, the kids and grandkids are not visiting, so why not talk to the pets? It is better than going “stir-crazy.”

Up until COVID time we just had a dog, but my wife also likes cats and she decided it was time to get one. Now, we can talk to both the dog and the cat.

It is interesting to watch how these two animals are now interacting. The dog knows that there is a new presence in the house, and that he is no longer the “be all and end all” in the animal pantheon of our family. The cat, I think, frustrates him and the dog will start barking in a high-pitched tone as he tries to stick his nose and paws into the cat’s face.

The cat’s best defense, it seems, is to ignore the dog which then drives him even a little more crazy. Yet, beneath it all, it seems that the cat and the dog actually like each other and through it all are defining their role and space in the household.

And, through all of this, two older adults who are a bit socially-starved right now, sit there observing it and somehow feeling better about life in general as these two animals animate the atmosphere.

Did I think that at my age I might be sitting in a recliner in front of a warm stove enveloped in what is going on between two animals in my house? Not really. Usually, at this time of year, we have been “putting on Christmas” and looking forward to going south in the spring.

But, not this year. We are “hunkered in our bunker,” wearing masks and trying to stay safe until we can receive a vaccine. Which makes the role of a pet more important than I ever thought it could be. It is nice to have a cat and dog getting to know each other. It brings a breath of new life into the house.

So, if you have been putting off the idea of getting a pet, now might be the time to change your mind. A pet might just be the companionship you need during this time of COVID.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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