Dogs in a Time of Corona

I love my dog and my dog loves me.

That’s been my doggie mantra ever since all this corona-lockdown business hit our planet like the proverbial plague. Beforehand, it was more a matter of:

I hate my dog and my dog hates me.

Of course that’s not really true, just as it isn’t really true when exhausted parents of impossible toddlers and recalcitrant teenagers secretly think to themselves at moments of despair: I hate you! In reality it’s only the behaviour that is the hated party, not the beast themselves, canine or otherwise.

But still, until a couple of months ago I certainly found my dog … how to put it? … challenging I believe is the required euphemism here. The word ‘challenging’ camouflages a whole host of sins, all of which are centred round adjectives of the dreaded ‘d’ variety: difficult, delinquent, deviant, detestable, and desperate, to name but a few. Until recently, Bruno the Beast was all of those.

Until recently, my entire life with Bruno seemed to be built on the same exhausting, repetitive cycle that it once had been with toddlers – all to do with the key word: NO.

Bruno trying to eat our supper when we aren’t looking – NO!
Bruno trying to drink the garden up (after rain) – NO!
Bruno trying to dig the entire garden up – NO!
Bruno trying to scoff all the flowers – NO!
Bruno trying to sprint after all joggers, cyclists, and anyone carrying a shopping bag – NO!
Bruno trying to jump on our laps – NO! (We’re not being mean; he’s just way too heavy.)

I could go on till midnight with this list, but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, here’s the miracle. Thanks to lockdown, my mad Malinois has suddenly transformed into a beloved Malinois. So why is this? The answer is boringly simple: spending more time together.

Before Lockdown (let’s call it BL from now on) I would leave the house for several hours each day; now I only go out for doggie walks and bits of shopping. BL, the walks were more of a chore than a pleasure; now I actually enjoy them. BL, I would only occasionally let him off the lead; now I regularly throw a stick or ball for the hairy athlete, who gallops and bounds and leaps into the air in sheer juvenile joy – and then collapses on the grass, panting like a trooper, tongue hanging out, to regain energy before the next round. And once back home, sleeps like a baby (and snores like an old man), thereby granting his benevolent owner me time.

Since Lockdown, I cuddle him more, he cuddles me more (of sorts); I blow kisses into his big, furry, jowlsy neck; he follows me everywhere; he gets more treats because, quite simply, he’s all round nicer now and deserves an additional piece of sausage or frankfurter whenever he knows he’s being good and looks at me in that particularly irresistible way. And no, he won’t get fat, because the extra time spent on dog walks is keeping him mega-fit.

Now he even allows me the luxury of a long, bubbly bath in the mornings, no longer howling like a spoilt wolf at the bottom of the stairs as soon as he hears my toes hit the water, thereby depriving me of every ounce of pleasure the bubbly, start-the-day therapy was supposed to provide me with.

When so many families are having to deal with the strains and stresses of spending too much time in confined spaces, being squashed together with small children, listless teenagers, bickering partners, or ailing parents, I feel guilty to be rejoicing in the improved relationship with my Mad Malinois, who is no longer quite so mad. All thanks to lockdown!

In a nutshell, by being forced to spend more time at home, my dog is now getting far more attention, exercise and love. Which, as we all know deep down inside, is the secret recipe to all successful relationships.

I love my dog and my dog loves me!

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