what i learned

Has My Dog Been in Quarantine Her Whole Life?

Blackout series. Illustration: Jules Julien

For nine years now, Brownie darling, you have given us your alert attention and poured oceans of love upon us, cleaving in two when we come home, barking shrilly at anyone who dares to ring our buzzer. Your world is defined by our sofa, our voices, our comings and goings. In fact, you’re obsessed with us, and all we have to do is come home to you.

But now, we’re all at home and all on the couch. Except for those magical occasions, three or four times a day, when you and I go for a walk. Nowadays, Brownie, these constitutionals are the high points of my day, too. I realize I have been so wrong to limit the stopping and starting and sniffing, all to rush you along so I could get back to my coffee. Those walks are your treasure hunts and coffee breaks and cocktail hour.

I’m sorry I teased you about the Prozac. Since you are such a picky eater, getting that Prozac into you has become a real challenge. Only swallowed if encased in a treat—I even have to serve it to you on a tiny Spode dish. The vet diagnosed you as “bored and anxious” when you used to chew on gravel or tear up paper towels you dragged into your crate. We felt for you but thought it was hilarious that you, a small dog who is so doted on, should need an antidepressant. How very “New York” of you, Brownie!

Well, guess who is bored and anxious now? Guess who else needs a groomer? I have learned what you already well knew, that walking is more than exercise and a powder-room break but, in fact, it is a conversation with the natural world. I have found that I, too, enjoy everyday meals served on Spode. Believe me, at this point in lockdown, there’s not a person, dog or human, who could not use a serotonin boost.

*A version of this article appears in the June 22, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

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Has My Dog Been in Quarantine Her Whole Life?