When I last wrote about my pets two years ago, the world of pets – like the world of humans – was much different than it is today.
Since the start of the pandemic, my pets, like millions across the country, have become spoiled by having their adult “parents” around pretty much 24-7. But I was curious about how they’ve been coping with everything, and so, as a salute to Jewish Rhode Island’s annual Pet Edition, I thought I’d get in touch with my inner feline and canine by conducting an updated interview with my cat Cooper and my dog Buddy, a Shih Tzu-Pekingese mix.
One thing I discovered is that Cooper, like most felines, has been pretty much unaffected by the pandemic and continues to do what cats do best: chill out. He still meows when his food and water bowls are empty, purrs when he annexes our laps as his personal leisure space, likes to nap at my wife Lynne’s feet and enjoys practicing his long-jump maneuvers by leaping onto our kitchen table whenever I walk out of the room and foolishly leave food there.
Buddy, on the other hand, has been more affected, barking his head off more than in the past. That’s especially noticeable whenever Buddy hears Lynne’s voice on a work Zoom call, or just the phone, or when he feels left out when we put him on the other side of the gate that separates the family room from the kitchen. He also barks like clockwork when the 6:30 p.m. news is over, jumping on the gate and whining until my wife threatens him with banishment to the crate. Not to mention the barking jags every time the doorbell rings.
So, to delve into those and other matters, I recently chatted with both Buddy and Cooper:
Me: Have you been more agitated than last year?
Buddy: Not really, but I’ve been wondering why you guys don’t get out of the house more.
Me: That’s an excruciatingly long story, but why does our being home seem to cause you so much consternation?
Buddy: Hey, I’m a dog, not a linguist. In plain English, please.
Me: Why are you barking so much?
Buddy: I bark, therefore I am. In other words, when you guys are around, I want to talk – and barking is how I communicate. I thought I made that clear the last time we talked.
Me: You did, but you seem to be a lot more on edge these days.
Buddy: That’s your perception. I’m just a dog, and actually, I’ve enjoyed walking in the park with Lynne. So, this arrangement has had some positive results.
Me: I’m glad you think so. I just wish you’d stop going mental whenever the doorbell rings.
Buddy: I just can’t help myself.
Me: That’s not good enough. What will it take for you to stop yapping so much?
Buddy: Bribe me with more snacks so my mouth will be too full to bark.
Me: Speaking of your food habits, why do you prefer egg matzah over wheat?
Buddy: Hey, I may be a dog, but I know the difference between real food and a piece of cardboard.
Me: Have you been upset over the last year?
Cooper: Not in the least. Why do you ask?
Me: Never mind. I should have realized that cats can relax much easier than dogs. Have you changed any of your behaviors?
Cooper: Don’t be ridiculous. I’m a cat, and I know how to deal with strangers. Whenever someone comes over I don’t recognize, I do what all cats do: flee to a safe hiding place and reemerge when the intruder is gone.
Me: How have your days been going?
Cooper: Same as always. I meow for food, water and for you to open the basement door when I become too lazy to open the cat door. And I’ll walk all over you just when you’ve found your sweet spot on the couch, or are trying to figure out the Jumble.
Me: What’s your favorite activity?
Cooper: Being on the lookout for my next vacant lap.
The Q-and-A sessions with Buddy and Cooper reinforced what I knew two years ago, and what I’ve known ever since the pandemic began: Our pets may on occasion drive us crazy, but they’ve been a constant source of comfort, relief and hope throughout this ordeal that has grossly overstayed its welcome – and for that, like pet owners everywhere, I’m extremely grateful.
LARRY KESSLER (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at larrytheklineup.blogspot.com.