Pet Play Date! (Borrow A Dog!)

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When fears around pets transferring the disease were finally squashed by health experts, a friend’s offer to “loan us” his dog was something I finally took him up on. My kids were thrilled. His dog is a gentle 13-year old granny who was very sweet house guest.

But let’s back up for a second: for the last two months, we’ve been on lockdown here in Beijing. Things are getting better now with a slow emergence and inching towards normalcy, but we’re watching a scenario unfold overseas that is much like our early February. We’re sending love and sympathies to all those who are isolated and struggling.

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With kids, it’s great when there’s more than one, but inevitably they will want their friends and miss school. Playdates are considered off-limits and I understand why! Even though kids are spared the severity of this illness, they are still carriers and keeping them in the practice of physical distancing (or social distancing) is also important for protecting the rest of society–especially their grandparents.

So, I’m suggesting a different kind of playdate: A Pet Playdate!

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When “Gogo” came to stay with us, my kids were beyond excited. It was like Christmas all over again. They became very calm and sweet with her, babying her and cuddling her almost around the clock. Giving her a bath was the ultimate highlight of their week. They even wanted to sleep on the floor beside her… (but instead we made her a “super bed” more like theirs so she’d be more comfortable.)

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I’m sure there are pets in your neighbourhood whose owners would be open to giving them a “pet vacation” with you and your child(ren). If you are a pet owner, consider loaning your dog or your cat to a (non-allergic!) family whose kids are going as stir crazy as their parents! It was such a joy to watch my kids experience this. I wish I’d taken my friend up on it sooner.

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I have to admit that I’m not really a dog person–or a pet person–anymore. Living my crazy freelance lifestyle that includes a lot of travel has shifted me away from the notion of pet parenting. (Not to mention being a single parent to two kids already. Two is enough!) But, I really enjoyed having “Gogo” with us for three nights. The kids were over the moon, and it added another dimension to their cooped up experience that was really precious to witness.

Hope this suggestion is helpful!

As a voice from the future, it will get better! Yesterday, I actually went *out* for a morning coffee for the first time in about ten weeks. I saw a small group of people gathered at a bus stop and did a double take. I saw others buying breakfast foods from a newly re-opened restaurant. But the biggest surprise was seeing a handful of elderly people in the small neighbourhood square playing ping pong at the outdoor tables. This really made me smile. It was 19 degrees Celsius yesterday and a glimmer of hope was pushing its way up from the soil, out from the buds of the trees, and tentatively hanging in the spring breeze.

Much warmth from us to you!

~es

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