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CHOICE Furry Friend Dodger here, living in the time of COVID-19.

Wow: my day-to-day life has really changed in last weeks. Between you and me, in some ways, I’m living my best life: I love having my people home with me all the time. But I miss friends coming over, going to the office with Mom, sampling at the pet store, and getting treats at drive-thrus.

I know I’m a lucky dog because my humans are healthy, my boys aren’t going to school, and Mom and Dad are working from home. But it’s hard not to be worried and scared with everything that’s happening and changing (and so quickly!) in our community, state, country, and around the world.

But it’s important to do what we can, even when we’re worried and scared, especially when we’re worried and scared, so here are some important things you can do during the outbreak:

    1. Listen to the experts: Stay Home. Stay Healthy.” If you’re sick, stay home. If you can work from home, stay home. If you don’t absolutely have to go out, stay home. Being “low risk” for COVID-19 complications does not mean “no risk” for complications. Staying home slows the spread of COVID-19, helps our healthcare system not become overwhelmed, and protects people who are at high risk for complications. Physical distancing saves lives. It’s difficult, I know, but we have to work together to stay physically apart.
    2. Regular exercise is a vital part of staying healthy, but remember: even outside and on the trail, it’s critical to observe physical distancing. This is especially hard for me because I’m a lover and need attention more than anything. (I think I need attention even more than food!) My family and I are taking long walks on the trail near our house every day, but we’re careful to go really early, before many people are out and about, and keep our distance from the few people we do come across. This makes me sad because I like meeting people, saying hi to other dogs, and hearing what a good, handsome boy I am. But staying at least 6-feet away from people slows the spread of COVID-19. We all need to do everything we can to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and our healthcare system during the COVID-19 outbreak.
    3. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless, but you’re not: if you’re able to help, do what you can for others during this difficult time. There are lots of things that are safe and easy to do to help people in your community. You can call and check in on family, friends, and neighbors. You can donate money over the phone to local food banks, homeless shelters, crisis centers, and United Way. You can donate blood (gross, I know, but hospitals are in desperate need for blood, and it’s safe to make an appointment and donate). You can foster a shelter animal or donate money to help feed animals without forever homes. You can support local restaurants and local businesses by buying take-out and gift cards to enjoy when life gets back to normal. Because it will get back to normal.
    4. Misinformation is dangerous. My mom is the Communications Manager at CHOICE, and she’s been working hard to keep the website and social media account updated with verified COVID-19 information and resources. It’s hard work because misinformation and rumors are spreading about as fast as COVID-19. Make sure you’re getting your COVID-19 news from credible sources like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health (DOH), local public health departments, the Governor’s office, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
    5. Self-care is an essential part of overall health and wellness. The news makes Mom sad and worried, so I do my part and sit with her so she can pet me when she’s checking for information to share with CHOICE and CPAA partners. She’s also declared Saturday a “No News Day” at our house because she needs the break after working all week. Keeping regular schedules, staying hydrated, eating healthy food, exercising, and having purpose is even more important than usual because we’re all processing life in the time of COVID-19. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself, as well as the people (and animals) around you.

The COVID-19 pandemic is happening everywhere; that’s literally what “pandemic” means. So even though we have to stay physically apart right now, we’re all living in the time of COVID-19 together. And that’s what gives me hope: we will get through this together.

Be well, everyone. Clean hands, kind hearts.