We have made changes to how we work at the Tulsa SPCA. We imagine you have as well. A friend sent us this article from Tulsa World’s Wagoner County American-Tribune and asked if we could write a pet-focused version.
Gerard Clancy, MD, is a psychiatrist and professor of community medicine and psychiatry at the University of Tulsa. He’s also a dog dad to two rescues. From Dr. Clancy’s article: “Over the past few days, I have received calls from colleagues acknowledging the stress this is starting to bring on them and frankly asking how best to deal with the anxiety. I answer them that yes, this is stressful. I follow that they are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. From that declaration, there is a need for planning and action to manage the stress of this unique time.”
Below are nine action steps that may help us and our pets get through this:
1. Just the facts. Media coverage can be scary, but remember that there is no evidence that your pet can become ill from COVID-19. There is the possibility that the virus can live on an animal in the same way it can live on our clothing, a doorknob, or any object. Practice good pet care and good self-care. And stick to the facts, not the hype.
2. Do the five. Help stop coronavirus.
1 HANDS – Wash them often
2 ELBOW – Cough into it
3 FACE – Don’t touch it
4 SPACE – Keep safe distance
5 HOME – Stay if you can
3. Stay connected. We have found in the last couple days that video calls and virtual face-to-face can make a big difference in how you communicate with your friends, family and virtual colleagues. In a manager’s meeting this morning, foster dog Carlie, joined the conversation twice. Let your pets join you while you use FaceTime or Zoom.
4. Acknowledge this is stressful. Your routine has been interrupted and so have theirs. Be sensitive to the fact that your presence at home full-time is new for them too. Help them relax by keeping a schedule for feeding, walks and naps.
5. Personal health. The focus of this shut down is clearly on human health and wellness, but what if you have a pet emergency and care is needed? Some veterinarians, including the Tulsa SPCA’s own shelter vet Dr. Megan Buford, are scheduling virtual appointments. Because animal welfare has been deemed an essential service, you should be able to call your vet and get the answers you need.
6. Take a break. No one wants to take a nap with you more than your pet! Snuggle up. Turn off the news. Just be together for a bit.
7. Can-do list. So much of what we’re hearing in the media is about what we cannot do. It’s good to make a list of what you can do. Read to or with your pet. Try some gardening. It’s tempting to stay indoors and eat comfort food, but now is the perfect time to get some exercise with your pets. It’s good for you and it’s great for them. Walk your dog. Play with your cat. Please don’t let them wander without you, though. The CDC is recommending that we keep our animals with us.
8. Structure. Don’t lose track of the rhythm of the days. Even though you’re napping, try to get good sleep at night. And try to get up at the same time in the morning. Your animals might help remind you to get up on time. But if they don’t, it’s okay to use them as a reason to keep your schedule! It’s good for both of you.
9. Gratitude to those on the front lines. We are super grateful to all of the Tulsans who have stepped up to foster and adopt the animals in our care. We are also incredibly grateful for the delivery drivers still bringing us pet food and veterinary supplies, the American Waste drivers that continue to remove trash and recycling, the DoorDash drivers and Shred-It team who still show up even when most things are required to be shut down. Thank you for putting up with our foster dogs barking at you while you try to do your essential jobs.
These are difficult times for us and for our pets. But it is also a great time to bond with them and to reap the benefits of their unconditional love. If you’re not yet parenting a pet, we can help you with that! Please apply to foster or adopt a dog or cat. We’re happy to match you up with a #quarantinebuddy.