The Gang's All Here: Of Pandemic Puppies and Equine Friendships

As the daylight ever so slowly begins to shorten and we pull ourselves away from the hour upon hour of watching and tending the garden and the countless hours lounging in the extreme heat, waiting for a breath of cool air, that change of season is now upon us. There is the refreshing crispness in the air in the evening accompanied by the search for an ever so slightly warmer sweater to wear.

Of course, this summer has been as no other. We have had the daily uncertainty with regards to how our life may be different from one year ago and as to how it may be unfolding this Autumn.

We have been bombarded each day with an overload of information, some of which is rescinded the next day, along with the disturbing fact that we need to be wary of the sources of this information. For many, the stress of this situation with COVID-19 in which we currently find ourselves is truly disturbing. Often at a loss as to how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from falling ill, we tend to look for outlets which will assuage our worries.

Most recently, there has been a surge in the adoptions of pets of all sorts in Canada and the United States, and I suspect throughout the world, as people search for comfort and a small diversion from the reality of our new situation. Facing the prospect of having to be at home for the foreseeable future, the idea of getting a furry friend can be a huge emotional benefit for many as a way to break up the loneliness and monotony of the "quarantine". The term "Pandemic Puppy" has become popular with many. Introducing a puppy to your home can give one focus, more structure and the joy of nurturing a wee life and in many cases give an animal a much needed home and a life out of the local shelter or fostering home. In many movies dogs are depicted as providing significant help to the main character(s), such as in I Am Legend, where Will Smith had a canine pal named Sam to help him through his new frightening reality. Marley & Me depicted a warm and loving family puppy story and Timmy always had Lassie to help him in each adventure.

Bringing a new life into your home is not only a source of immediate comfort but is also an act of optimism for a better future.

As things turned out, I ended up having a Pandemic Puppy of my own, although this had been planned long before our new reality materialized, and we are so very grateful we have her, especially now. Koko is the name of our new dog that we welcomed home last fall, our old canine friend having passed 6 months prior. We had planned to get a friend for Koko, but just had not found the right one. It wasn’t until the first week in March that we finally found our match and brought Chanel home. Three days later everything in the exterior world began to tumble like a house of cards. Our timing was unintentionally perfect, as we would not have headed out to search for a dog following the release of information surrounding the new circumstances of living with the coronavirus.

We welcomed home another female; this time, a Yellow Lab, and not a German Shorthair Pointer. Our girls hit it off immediately and have been inseparable ever since.

Dogs are well recognized as therapy animals and their presence in one's life is a calming factor, even in the absence of a pandemic. Besides this, they provide you with an enforced structure, routine and exercise, all of which assists with overall wellness.

Our new dogs have given my husband and me more humorous moments than I can count as the dogs roll about and vie for the softest area of their new dog bed or play with such exuberance that they tumble together in a ball of fur down the slight embankment in the back yard. Then they pop up looking so very surprised with quizzical looks on their faces! They are a wonderful way to start the day, even before coffee. While half asleep these two furry bundles of joy put a smile on my face and give a sense of optimism and purpose for the day. I am sure that we are treating them more like people than animals, but we are enjoying ourselves thoroughly just the same.

Our two horses, Muffin and Dusty, have found the new canines to be a wonderful addition to our farm family. We have had new dogs before and with each introduction there seems to be three stages. First comes the Curiosity, then the Entertainment factor and then the Bonding. Dusty and Koko are now very content to share treats on the floor of the barn. Muffin has also become accustomed to Chanel pulling bits of hay from his mouth, which I have never seen happen before with any of our other dogs. These days, when I am riding in the paddocks on the farm, Muffin and I have a friend, Koko, trotting along behind us, trying to anticipate our every move. Muffin and Koko on occasion are seen playing their own game of tag as only a large horse and a dog can do! At first, we did not realize that Muffin was engaging with Koko when Koko was jumping all around his legs and Muffin's head was waving back and forth. We soon realized, though, that they both had their own game to play. For the time being, Chanel is content to watch from the other side of the fence. When the four furry friends all understand each other and live happily in peace, so do we.

The day we brought Chanel home a friend came over to see her and thought that she was just adorable. I received a phone call from her the next day to say that, much to my surprise and delight, she was now the proud owner of our puppy's brother. They have been together only once and had a great time dashing about and rolling around. My friend and I do chat on the phone and via email about how much love and life our new furry additions have brought into our homes.

We look forward to the day when we can get our canines together again to play as we relax on the porch over a cup of tea and smile together over the antics of these wonderful new additions to our homes. I hope that your home has one too.


WHO IS ELLEN CAMERON?Ellen Cameron - Red Scarf Equestrian Guest Blogger

Ellen studied Fine Art and Art History at York University, Toronto. Her original concentration was in painting where she worked on commissioned oil paintings. While photographing subjects for use as a visual reference for her paintings, she realized that her true passion was photography. She was always fascinated with drawing and painting horses and was awed by the power and majesty of these magnificent, yet gentle creatures. “I seek to convey the remarkable spirit of the horse, with all its strength and its seemingly contradictory fragility.”

Browse Ellen's works of art >>


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