Hi. My name’s Shirelle. I’m a dog.
Really. I’m a husky-mix, and I live in California with my human friend. I’m not sure of his actual name, but because I think he’s the best sounding, smelling and feeling human, and the face I most love to see, I call him Handsome.
I also have a website, AskShirelle.com, where I give advice to people who write in. I get all sorts of questions, about everything from difficult parents and kids, to pet issues, to crushes and dating. LOTS on crushes and dating!
But lately, what I’ve mostly been hearing is fear and confusion about this awful crazy Coronavirus. Parents are worried about how to care for their family, kids are scared their parents won’t be able to feed them, everyone’s wondering how long they’ll be shut in… and of course, everyone’s wondering if they or their loved ones are in real danger!
And they’re right to worry! At least for a while.
You see, the difference between this virus and the many, others out there that make people (or dogs) sick is that this one is new. As far as anyone can tell, it didn’t even exist till last year.
So all these other diseases and toxins out there have been investigated and worked on by doctors and scientists for centuries, to a point where humans know how to cure, or protect against, almost all of them. But not this one. So yes, that makes it scary.
But here’s the good news. Doctors and scientists are a clever bunch, and they are busy working on solutions to keep us safe. They just don’t have them yet, but they´ll get there. In the meantime, governments all over the world are doing their very best to contain the virus. To keep it from spreading, as much as they can.
And how are they doing that? Oh you know very well – it’s what you’ve been hearing everywhere for the past few weeks. They’re telling everyone:
- Stay home as much as possible
- Stay six feet (two meters) away from other people as much as possible
- Wash your hands as much as possible
- Keep your hands away from your face as much as possible
- Don’t cough or sneeze on others, as much as possible
- And especially, if you’re feeling sick, keep yourself inside and away from anyone else.
If everyone in the world did this, perfectly, the virus would find no one to hitch onto, and it would die off within a couple of weeks. But … it’s not possible for everyone to do these perfectly. People have to get food, doctors need to work on sick patients, and you all have families and loved ones we’re there for.
So does that mean we’re all doomed?
Not a bit.
First of all, because we know what to do, we can keep this nasty little thing from hurting most of us.
And second, although the world economy is taking a big hit, with all these people not going to work, we’ve seen it way worse (you might have heard of The Great Depression, in the 1930s, when it seemed like no one was going to be able to make money again for ten years! And the world survived that!).
And we know that this will end. Maybe in a few months, certainly within a year. And when that happens, the economy around the world will EXPLODE! Can you imagine how many people will suddenly be rushing out to restaurants, to beauty salons, to clothes stores, to movie theaters, to dance clubs, to travel – everything they were unable to do during this.
But third, biggest of all, there’s something about this craziness that’s different from most of the other awfulness we’ve seen before, or ever will again. Do you know what it is?
For once in our lives: EVERYONE IS ON OUR SIDE.
You know how, when you play a sport, everyone on the other team wants you to lose, so they can win? Or if you get into an argument, the other person wants to prove you wrong? Or how, way too often, some people dislike or distrust some groups of other people, because of their color or their religion or their nationality?
There’s NONE OF THAT in this! When a person gets sick from this virus, EVERYONE IN THE WORLD wants them to get better. EVERYONE wants you to wash your hands, EVERYONE wants you to stay safe.
So I’m not going to tell you to be happy about this. But maybe you can find some things to enjoy in it. Maybe you get to spend more time with your parents than usual, and have some fun with them while they can’t go to work (I can tell you, I am LOVING having Handsome home so much! I have never gotten so many walks, cuddles, or treats!). Maybe you can catch up on the reading you were supposed to do three months ago, so you’ll get a better grade at school – even if all your classes are online – or learn an instrument. Or get better at that videogame that’s always beaten you.
Or, and here’s my favorite idea, maybe you could take this time to do something absolutely wonderful for someone. Do you have neighbors who need to stay locked in, who could use someone to bring them some food, or take care of their garden, or walk their dogs? You could be that person. Or even just calling them and talking with them, or singing a song.
Do you realize that you kids and we dogs have a superpower in common? We make people happy just by being there, just by giving them a smile or wagging our tails. You and I can be the best part of a person’s day, so easily.
So in the end, yeah, this stinks. But it’s also an adventure. And just like Harry and Hermione and Ron battling Voldemort, or The Avengers battling Thanos, you’re going to have bad days and good ones, victories and losses, and laughs and tears.
But, also like them, you also get to use this time to find out, and show everyone around you, who you really are.
And when we’re all past this rotten time, that’s what people will remember, and that’s what will matter.
For the rest of your amazing, beautiful, and treasured lives.
Doug Green and Shirelle
Shirelle is a Husky Saluki mix, and Handsome (aka Doug Green) is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles. Together they help kids aged 8-15 with social, developmental and emotional issues that concern them.