This is Laddie, and during this COVID-19 lockdown, I’d like to say a word to all my two-legged friends who come to pet me at PAWS Your Stress at Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre and all the other libraries and student lounges I go to get petted.
First off, I want to tell the students that I miss you and hope we will all be back on campus soon. Who knew we’d miss school this much? I also want to say that I hope you stay healthy. Drink lots of water. Eat good kibble. Don’t stock up on snacks—it’s way too easy to eat them all at once. Go for walks.
It’s important to love your people and your four-leggeds if you are lucky enough to have them. If you live with someone, no matter how many legs they have, cozy up on the couch often. Talk to each other and shut off the TV. There should be lots of petting. Don’t watch the news more than once a day. Find better things to do. Chase a ball. Stick your nose in the cat’s belly— she might pretend she doesn’t like it but believe me, she does.
One more thing I think will help you cope with these strange times: learn something new. Don’t be scared like I was. My Mum brought home this collapsible thing that would shut up flat and then open up. She said it was a stool. She is worried that the people at the care home we visit might lose their balance. They have to reach to pet me because I’m small. But still, I didn’t understand about the stool. When she put it in the kitchen I ran into the living room. But I came back because she had treats. She wanted me to put my paws on the stool. I just couldn’t. I was afraid. But I wanted a treat. I tried putting one paw half-way on the stool. I figured she’d give me a treat. She did—she’s a bit of a pushover. But this was exhausting and we both had to go for a lie-down. The next day, she tried to get me to do it again. She really doesn’t give up. And she hadn’t run out of treats yet. I was still leery, but I put both my front paws on the stool. She gave me two treats. Then she wanted me to do more, if you can imagine that. Something about “all your feet.” All? That was just too scary. We had to go for another lie-down.
I’m going to have to skip over the days when all I could do is put my front paws on that thing. My Mum found a new bag of treats and one scary day when she said, “all,” I put my back feet up on the stool and my front feet slipped right off. That was no fun, but she gave me extra treats—rewards really seem to work for her. Days later, the first time I managed to keep all four paws on the thing, she gave me lots of treats. Then she called her man-child from the basement to come and watch. I got so excited with a spectator in the kitchen that I jumped right over the thing. The next time, I slid right over it. The man-child said, “Naw, he can’t do it.” That really worried me because my Mum and I both knew I could.
I am sending you a photo to prove what happens when you really stick to learning something new. You can do it, no matter how impossible or scary it seems. I can sit on this thing now for as long as my Mum wants me to. I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not even nervous, and that’s saying something. I have anxiety about a lot of things.
I am proud that because I learned something new, the seniors at the care home will be safer when they pet me. I hope I can return to the care home and to PAWS Your Stress very soon. Until then, be well, and don’t forget to learn something new.
PS. Did you know that St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs are now doing virtual live therapy? Visit us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/PAWSYourStress/ There are some really cool dogs there doing all kinds of things. My turn is coming up soon and even though this is way out of my comfort zone, I signed up.