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The Big Winners: Dogs

By Shlomo Maital

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   There is one big winner in the COVID-19 “shelter at home”: Our dogs. Like Pixie, our mixed-breed part-Yorkshire. We’re always at home, so any time is play time, and she brings us her rope and her weasel, to throw and play fetch. Then it’s walk time – it’s legal under partial ‘shelter at home’ to walk dogs, so she gets many daily walks, and we benefit from the fresh air.

When it’s TV time, she curls up on our laps, and as an equal opportunity dog, divides her presence between myself and my wife. She does her little circle – legacy of her wolf origins, who circle before lying down to sleep – and tucks in at our feet, her right ear straight in the air, alert and listening even when she sleeps. All this, in 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds).

Dog cognition expert Alexandra Horowitz, Barnard College, writing in today’s New York Times, observes, “[Dogs’] simple presence, and their willingness to be touched, is viscerally satisfying. Time spent reading on the couch is massively improved by a dog’s head resting on my leg, a warm snuffling muzzle directed at me is instantly calming. …there are some 90 million dogs in the US and in some ways we have treated dogs as quasi-people all along. “.

   Horowitz notes that normally dogs experience social isolation, as the owners are at work. They stay alone for most of their days. Now that WE are in ‘social isolation’, we are giving dogs ‘more of what they deserved all along – our companionship’.

One of the benefits of COVID-19 is a major rise in dog adoption. “…shelters that recently put out calls seeking foster care for homeless animals reported being inundated with applicants…”.  

Concludes Horowitz: “I hope we will maintain some of our current abnormal condition, giving our dogs the companionship they need. I hope we will come out of this with a fuller appreciation of the privilege that it is to keep the company of animals.”

Pixie: Thanks! We love and need you.

Rescue Dogs – Rescue Children
By Shlomo Maital 

Seven years ago, our daughter in law came upon a puppy in Tel Aviv. A mixed-breed Yorkshire,  the four-month-old puppy jumped on her, on a Tel Aviv Street.  Dafna could find no owner, and brought her home, bathed her, cleaned her up (she was full of fleas and ticks), took her to the vet for shots…and asked us if we could help find her a home, as a rescue dog.   I met Pixie (the name we gave her) when I came home from a working trip to Europe.  As I came in the door, she jumped into my arms and licked my face… instant love, after 3 microseconds.  At that instant, my wife and I decided we would keep her.  Since then Pixie has made us laugh every single morning and with her antics, made the awful news in the New York Times and Ha’aretz bearable.   
     Pixie IS a rescue dog.  She rescued us, in a sense.  She takes us for walks and offers unconditional love, rain or shine – and an incredible greeting every time we come home, as if we were long-lost siblings.
    Several of our friends have rescue dogs, too.   One has a beautiful placid huge golden retriever, female,  she (the dog) carries herself with dignity worthy of Pope Francis.    Taking home a rescue dog is truly worthwhile and meaningful —  often, it keeps the dog from being put down, in rescue kennels that are vastly overcrowded, because so many unworthy people bring home puppies for children and then suddenly discover dogs need care, feeding and walking ..and abandon them. 
     So yes – great that we love rescue dogs.
     But what about rescue kids?  Writing in The New York Times, Nicholas Kristof points out that America is neglecting kids – and not just those of immigrants. 
“It’s not just the kids at the border.  America systematically shortchanges tens of millions of children, including homegrown kids. The upshot is that American kids are more likely to be poor, to drop out of high school and even to die young than in other advanced countries.”
    So —  What about a program for rescue kids?   Resources for education, food. (Republicans now seek to cut a food stamp program that has fed millions – including one child in five who lives in poverty in America,  a Third World statistic).   Even, perhaps, adoption, when justified. 
   Kids are as lovable as dogs. And they deserve just as much love.

p.s. this is blog # 1,500.  Thanks to all my readers. 

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital

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