The Spanish Water Dog and the COVID-19 Lockdown

We were all surprised by this terrible pandemic that has forced us to stay at home for who knows how much longer…

It has also surprised all domesticated living beings and some wild species because they are venturing into spaces that were once difficult for them to reach…

Our dogs, especially the smartest in the world, the Spanish Water Dog, have realized that something is happening. Yes, having their owners at home all day, every day, is not what they were used to. Our dogs must be thinking something happened; but well, for them it’s much better because they are with their loved ones all day and there’s hardly any anxiety or desperation waiting for them to come home.

The routine of daily walks remains the same although there are fewer dogs in the park than before, and people keep their distance and talk less. They see the mask as just another garment, although the muffled sounds from talking through it distort normal voices. They’ve noticed a plastic smell from gloves that masks the characteristic and unique scent of each of our hands.

In the park, they also miss being let off to run a bit, play with other dogs, get among the flowers, or go into the pond; but upon receiving affectionate and encouraging words from their owners, they quickly realize that “today we’re in a hurry” and they have to take a shorter walk.

Back home, they see the joyful welcome from all family members compensates for the short walk, and they happily accept cuddles, kind words from everyone, grab their toy, and present it to the nearest person, inviting them to play, even if there’s little space.

Indoors, there are many games we can play with our dogs… The simplest is to take a tennis ball, place it in a visible spot, and command the dog to fetch or retrieve if they see it (assuming they already know how to chase the ball). Once they master this simple exercise, the next step is to hide the ball where it’s not visible but let them see where we put it, so they can follow our steps. They’ll bring it back quickly, and we’ll show our joy and satisfaction for their success. Repeat this three or four times. Next, hide the ball nearby without them seeing where it goes, give the command “search,” and they’ll find it using their powerful sense of smell… Repeat several times, express joy, and relax.

Dogs don’t forget; they have excellent memory. They’ll always remember which games we’ve taught them and even the time and place where we played. This means we can play every day at the most suitable times for everyone and gradually combine exercises. With so much time ahead, we can teach obedience exercises, like when they should fetch a toy that’s safe for them. Teaching them to find slippers under the bed by putting a ball or another favorite object inside, bringing the leash for a walk, picking up toys from the floor and putting them in the drawer where they belong, etc. Endless activities that will keep us happy, distracted, and help time pass without dwelling too much on the situation we’re in.

Antonio García Pérez. April 25, 2020.

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