Keeping the faith: surviving lockdowns with your dog

Lockdowns can always cause anxiety among all of us. As I write this, there is a sense of dread and uncertainty among residents of Metro Manila with the coming imposition of a third lockdown in the coming days. Although I have long been resigned to the inevitability of lockdowns for as long as the pandemic is raging, I know I still have to prepare my household, four-leggeds included, for the challenges that the lockdown would bring.

As with many other people, my immediate thought upon hearing about the coming ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) was to do a grocery run to stock up on essentials. For the dogs, that would mean their supply of fresh meat and poultry to add to their kibble. Thankfully, I have stopped myself from doing so, reminding myself that supermarkets and retailers of food continue to operate even during lockdowns, and that stocking up now doesn’t really do much other than fill up my freezer and making me feel in control.

This, I guess, is the problem. I want a semblance of control in the face of the coming unknown, and doing something to achieve that sense of control, no matter how illusory, has been my way of quelling my bubbling anxieties.

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on

Having said that, I’ve still had to make some real preparations for the household and for the dogs as well. Thankfully, my favorite vet and I were chatting just a few days ago about how a lockdown seemed imminent, and I had taken the opportunity to ask about his clinic’s plans if a lockdown is imposed. Of course, I will still have to ask him again to confirm that his clinic would stay open once the lockdown begins. I guess I’ve been scarred by the earliest days of the very first Enhanced Community Quarantine, when all veterinary clinics were deemed non-essential and I had nowhere to go. When vet clinics were first allowed to reopen, there was a lot of confusion among local authorities. I remember that I had to plead with a stern-looking military man to let me pass through a checkpoint so my dog could get to the vet. I do hope that this does not happen again with ECQ 3.0.

Still on lockdown preps, I also had to check if we had enough maintenance medicines and supplements for the dogs (and humans). Lockdown or not, I always make it a point to have a well-stocked medicine cabinet but impending lockdowns are a good opportunity to replenish fast-moving items and first-aid essentials.

Then, of course, there are the cleaning items that I regularly use. One of my biggest frustrations during the first ECQ was when limits were placed on the number of disinfectant bottles that one can buy. (For context, alcohol, sanitizers, and face masks were all in very short supply back then, so the government had to impose these controls.) This of course, was disastrous for our household, since we consume a lot of disinfectant for our multi-dog household to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause dog illnesses such as parvo, distemper, and others. At one point, I was going from one sari-sari store to another just to snap up all the disinfectant that they could sell to me. Those days are long over, though, because I have discovered that my next-door neighbor is actually a distributor of disinfectant, and I am now able to purchase all the disinfectant I need in bulk.

The most important preparation one can do, however, is the mental readiness for what the next few days would bring. For me, at least, being mentally prepared also toughens me up emotionally for the uncertainties that lie ahead. Then, there is the spiritual dimension. Amid the uncertainty and the unknown, I’ve found it important to keep the faith, and to know that there is Someone up there who is in control — not only of myself, but also of the dogs.

Who knows what the next few days would bring? Hopefully, all of us will emerge from this lockdown in good health and good spirits, strengthened by the comforting presence of our enduring and ever-loyal furry companions.

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