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Ask Walter: Peace and togetherness

Creature Comforts

Dear Walter: Life was pretty predictable and orderly until very recently. My people used to leave to go to school and work, after which, I’d have a juicy snooze on my soft blanket. So pleasantly peaceful. Just when I would start feeling lonely and needed a potty break, they’d be home to let me out and feed me, and the noise would start again until bedtime.

I used to love the commotion after a quiet day. Kids running around and squealing, people talking, cat meowing — I didn’t even mind the electronic gizmos humming and talking and making all kinds of strange noises. And every evening, they’d throw the ball in the yard for me. Extra long Saturday morning walks were excellent. It’s been the same routine for years — the best.

Now, all of a sudden, WHAM! — the whole family’s home ALL THE TIME. All day, all night. I can’t remember when we were all together for this long, not even on most weekends, what with softball games and dance recitals and picnics I’m not invited to, and stuff. At first, it was super nice, I mean, I LOVE my people, but now, I’m not so sure. They’re EXHAUSTING.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore walks, but all these extra walks and the kids wanting to play with me and dress me up in hats and brush my fur the wrong way is starting to become a little tiresome.

What gives? Will things ever be back to normal? This family’s high maintenance. I miss my delicious all-day naps.

— Peace Lover

Dear Peace Lover: Word on the street — er — internet (not too many folks out and about these days) is that there’s some kind of scary, invisible disease out there, and people are hunkering down at home for awhile. It’s been ages since I was used as a pillow, poked with magic wands or had a kazoo tooted at me, but I feel for you, friend, as it takes a stoic dog to put up with that stuff.

I will openly admit to having “lost it” a few times when our small humans pushed my buttons one too many times. Our boy and girl are pretty much at home most of the time these last few weeks, too, but they’re teenagers and spend many hours sleeping or hanging out in their rooms, so we dogs are off the hook with the entertainment duties. Since I’m now 14-years-old, and I’ve never had a particularly long fuse, it’s good that nobody teases me too much anymore. Don’t think I could hack it.

The boss lady and man seem to be keeping their regular schedule. Something about “essential.”

I dunno. I sleep most of the day, so as long as my meals are on-time, I’m feeling fine. I’m not sure how long this people-at-home thing’s going to last. I’m hearing some positives and negatives.

All I can say is do your best to enjoy all the attention while you’re young enough to have fun with it. I miss walks, but I just can’t do it anymore, and being carried is not my style.

Dear Walter: The neighbor dog’s all grumpy about his people being home all the time, but I think it’s AWESOME! I’ve never been good at being alone, and feel kinda panicky when everybody leaves me, so all this togetherness is my DREAM. I haven’t dug the door frame, chewed any table legs or peed in the house in, like three weeks, ’cause I’m NEVER ALONE!

I want this to last forever. Please tell me it will never end.

— Together Forever

Dear TF: Wow. Sounds like you are afflicted with some serious separation anxiety — a disorder that causes fearful behaviors when you feel alone. Your desire to dig the door, soil in the house, lick or chew household items (or yourself) compulsively is NOT being helped by the current “shelter at home” situation.

Your family should start trying to go back to some ordinary routines (even if it’s to put on shoes, grab their keys and leave the house to go for a walk without you for a while.) It will help you acclimate and conquer your anxiety if they work on this now, rather than when life goes back to normal and they must leave you for longer periods. Be brave!

Dear Walter: Please use your considerable influence to broadcast this message: Putting stickers on the cat is not nice. That is all.

— Sicka Stickas

Dear Stickas: I am sorry for your misfortune. While school and daycare are closed, I advise using your cat ninja skills to slink like you’ve never slunk before, achieve new heights, and find secret perches far, far away from small people with crafting supplies.

— Daverio is a veterinarian at Williamsport West Veterinary Hospital. Her column is published every other Sunday in the Lifestyle section. She can be reached at life@sungazette.com.

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