Some people have found it challenging to be isolated in their homes for the past year, but for me this has been an amazing opportunity to pursue my own personal growth. Rather than seeking validation through external sources like “having a job” or “going anywhere,” I’ve begun to look inside. As a result, a major transformation is taking place, one which I can only describe as profound personal evolution, and definitely not as me literally turning into a dog.
Since last March, I’ve started to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. There are now three things that I look forward to each and every day: food, going for a walk, and the mailman arriving. This is growth. This is balance. This is definitely not me becoming a canine.
Sure, there aren’t a lot of places we can’t go right now, but I believe that we must make the most of what we have, and I’m disciplined about taking myself out for a walk at least once a day. I don’t go far, but it’s not because I’m on a literal leash, it’s because it’s not safe and I’m not allowed to. So it’s more of an invisible leash. But again I want to emphasize, not an actual leash. And that my friends, is evolution: seeing the possibility within limitation.
I don’t get to see people that often, so when I do I get really excited. If I run into a friend on the street, assuming we’re both wearing our muzzles — I mean masks — I’ll jump up on them, run around in circles, and smell their butt. Because of the muzzles, I don’t always recognize people right away, so it’s important to establish who’s a friend and who’s a foe in the most reliable way possible: butt odor. They say when certain senses are deprived, others become sharper, and as my sense of meaning, purpose, and self have dissolved, my sense of smell has become stronger than ever!
In quarantine, I’ve become more resourceful. When I get anything remotely valuable — be it a roll of toilet paper, a voting ballot, or a negative covid test result — my instinct is to bury it. At first my husband found this behavior worrisome (he was all “how are they going to count your vote if it’s buried in the park?” and “we can’t use the toilet paper if it’s under a rock”) — but as I’ve told him many times, this is a positive development. Now, if I ever need a negative covid test, I know where to find it.
I’m getting better with boundaries. In fact, I’ve become territorial to the point that I won’t allow anyone else in our house. This is for health reasons, but also to protect my stack of bones. My husband finds my behavior worrisome, but I explained that if no one comes in, there’s no way they can pee on our stuff. He doesn’t seem to think other people peeing on our stuff is our biggest concern, but I’m finding myself increasingly worried about it. My point is, I’m using my survival instinct, and definitely not behaving like a 4-legged animal with a den to defend.
Perhaps it’s because I’m deprived of human interaction, but I feel my empathy has improved in quarantine. Now when I watch television, if the actors cry, I cry, if the characters feel pain, I feel pain, if a woman who looks remotely like me appears on screen, I start barking at the television like a maniac, running back and forth, and generally losing my shit. I’ve never felt so emotionally connected.
My husband says we’re not allowed to have chocolate in the house anymore because it will “literally kill me.” I’m not sure if this is based on the consumption habits he witnessed in my first months of quarantine or an actual biological defect, but there’s not much I can do about it, I’m not allowed in stores. He gets the food and I just have to accept what’s placed in my bowl. On the bright side, though we don’t get to eat at restaurants anymore, I’ve discovered that I can make do with less. A lot of times I’m happy to just throw together a pot of spaghetti, or gnaw on an old shoe to satisfy my cravings.
I don’t remember what my skills were before quarantine, but I’ve learned to appreciate the new skills I’m developing. My number one skill these days is sitting.
Okay I’m starting to realize that some of these things sound a lot like the behavior of a literal dog, which I’m sure I am not. Although to be honest, I’m not 100% sure of anything these days. But let’s just say… I had become a dog — would that really be so bad? I’ve always identified as a “dog person,” so perhaps this is just the next stage of my evolution: after a year of house-bound isolation, I can now truly say I am a “Dog-Person,” and I would still take that over Cat-Person. So, progress.