Unconditional love, cuddly hugs and moments of joy. We could all use some of that right now—and it’s exactly what my pets have given to me during the pandemic.
It’s such a serious time in our world. People are gravely ill and dying. Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed. A contentious election is coming up. Many of our kids aren’t physically in school.
It is essential that we make an effort to find things that bring us happiness right now. For me and my family, that happiness source is our dogs, cats, and other fur babies. Yes, it’s chaos, but it’s happy chaos that brings us something positive and fun in our lives right now.
As busy as things are, a pet is such a net positive that we recently added one to the brood: a Maine Coon named Spaghetti, the new best friend to our other Maine Coon, Meatball. Spaghetti loves to play, and pausing for a few minutes to hang out with him during the day feels like a true break.
Spaghetti wasn’t in the plan: I was out running when a man stopped me on the street, and I thought, “Oh, God, he’s going to yell at me about Trump.” Instead he said, “I see on your Instagram that you have Meatball; my wife raises Maine Coons and we have a litter.
So, Spaghetti fell into our lives and has brought us all such joy. We may not all always agree on how to get through this pandemic, but we agree on Spaghetti.
My daughter Carlie’s dog, Hobson, has also been particularly special. He’s an incredibly empathetic dog who really feels when people are upset. One day I was stressing over a few really serious things related to the pandemic, and without any prompting this 110-pound Bernedoodle put his paw on me, looked at me, and dropped his head into my lap. I was like, 'You really know what I’m thinking.'
Our pets have also been key for my 88-year-old mom Emilie, who has Parkinson’s. She’s really been struggling. But if you put a pet in front of her, particularly Hobson or my late father’s German shepherd Daisy, she just lights up.
Life is extraordinarily busy right now, and pets require time and care. I pick up a lot of poop these days. But it’s more than worth it for the smiles, the funny stories and the way our pets bring our family together. They are our instant smile-makers.
Pets might not be the right choice for every family at this time. But I do believe everyone needs their own smile-maker, their own source of joy. I strongly encourage you to find your own: a hobby, a nightly relaxing bath, undivided attention with family at dinnertime, soaking up your baby’s smiles. Everyone needs at least a moment of joy in their day, now more than ever.
Know Your Value wants to see how your pets—or any other “smile-makers”—are helping you find joy during this difficult time. Send your stories and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.