What It Is Like To Have A Service Dog During A Pandemic...
It is the beginning of May and like most people, in most places, we are still in covid-19 "Lockdown" in an effort to flatten the curve.
Having a service dog during a pandemic presents unique challenges and worries.
Thankfully everyone in our family is OK and we are safe. We have only been going out for essentials on the odd occasion.
The biggest challenge I have found is lack of public access exposure for Foreman and practice for us as a team. I was really worried about this since we are still technically in the first 6 months of being a team. Thankfully, we are still able to keep up obedience at home and alone while on walks etc. and this is what we have been advised to do by George of MSAR. So, so far, so good.
One of my big worries was/ is when out in public.. do I have to wash Foreman down afterwards?? For now when we come home I have been wiping him down with baby wipes. Is this really doing anything? Who knows, but it makes me feel better.
Another worry has been what happens if I end up admitted to hospital during the pandemic?? As mentioned in my last blog post, I was REALLY sick in February and in hospital for close to 3 weeks. Even then they were preparing for the pandemic.
As far as I know, most hospitals here are not allowing visitors. This would mean, if I were to be admitted to hospital, I wouldn't have any help with Foreman if I needed it. I would also have a very hard time getting him out at night as they have most of the exits taped off to avoid people entering the hospital without being screened(this is the case at the hospital I go to, it could be different elsewhere).
I am very thankful we have been able to avoid this type of situation.
While the pandemic has come with challenges and worries, it has also come with some lessons.
If you too have a service dog.. here are my tips and things I have learnt and found helpful:
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. I know if Foreman he doesn't get enough exercise, he goes a little stir crazy in the house and doesn't focus as well.
Engage your dog's mind! It can be as simple as your service dog doing a treat puzzle or if your dog is like Foreman... just have him do laundry, hold something or put things away.
IF you are going out into public to do groceries etc. utilize your time and work on things you can't at home. It can be as simple as your dog walking next to your shopping cart or being in a down stay while people pass with a shopping cart.
Most teams will probably be a bit rusty when we come out of this. Reality is... how we are living, is something I'm guessing most of us have never had to do before. Just keep working hard and focus on what you CAN do given the current circumstances. This too shall pass.. it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.
I hope everyone is doing well!
Stay safe and wash your hands(and paws)!