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It has been a whirlwind year. We took her to beaches, mountains and deserts, to offices and photo ops, and to the apartment of many friends. Since Alex and I are both journalists with crazy work schedules, we worried about how we would take care of a dog – the daily walks, rushed mornings, and paying for medical emergencies. We had never assumed a greater responsibility than ourselves. What I didn’t realize is that when you love a creature that depends on you, taking care of him or her doesn’t feel like a chore.
It has been an incredible eye-opener, and since we don’t have kids yet, it’s also a glimpse into the world of parenting. Watching Alex develop a relationship different from the one I have with Zadie has been fascinating and moving. She runs to me when she’s afraid; she runs towards him when she wants to play. They chase each other around the house and sometimes I tell them to calm down, to practice for the devastating mom that I hope to be someday soon.
But once the pandemic hit, a well-honed routine disappeared overnight. We were at home the whole time. There was no departure for work; there was no end of day meeting. It was just the three of us, together, 24 hours a day. I don’t know what we would have done without Zadie. His schedule is the only structure of our lives now.
The stress of living through a pandemic, of moving on to working from home where we are on top of each other and can’t take calls at the same time, caring for at-risk parents, and a host of other challenges sometimes comes with it. summer, overwhelming. Zadie, of course, doesn’t understand any of this, a fact that I find extremely heartwarming. When I start to panic, I walk over to her dog bed and she stretches for some belly massages, and I remember breathing.
As long as we have our health, life goes on. No matter what is going on in the world, Zadie still needs to walk when we wake up and before going to bed, and once or twice in between. She drops her ball in my lap if I’ve been looking at my computer for too long, and I remember the breaks are good for dogs and humans.
This year Clear the Shelters takes place in August, and I can’t believe it’s been a year since our fateful morning in TODAY Square. With so many seeking companions in quarantine, shelters this summer have reported record interest in adoption and promotion. It’s great for animals, and I can’t help but feel warm and fuzzy when I think of all the families who used this time to bond with a new dog. Pets have been shown to help overcome a range of struggles from low grade anxiety to depression, and Zadie’s positive effect on my mental health is undeniable. It lights up our lives and makes us smile a hundred times a day.
I don’t know how long we’ll still be working in this apartment – our whole world is reduced to a few rooms – or when we’ll have a coronavirus vaccine and Americans return to the office. Living in uncertainty is part of the so-called new normal for all of us. Until then, I’ll be working on my collection of photos of Zadie napping, Zadie playing, and Zadie napping and playing from different angles than others. As for quarantine recreation, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
So, to anyone who doesn’t want to adopt a pet: I hope you go. If you have a gruff owner, I hope he turns out to be a secret softie. And if you run out of phone memory, hope you will buy some first. You will need it.
CORRECTION (AUG 21, 2020, 2:50 p.m.): An earlier version of this article stated that Clear the Shelters Day is August 29, 2020. The adoption event lasts throughout August, due to circumstances by the pandemic coronavirus, not just August 29.