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We Never Could Have Foreseen the Benefits of Having a Dog

So much talk this summer about Back to School—or as I call it, Back to Something. Schools have created model after model on a bridge that is wobbly at best. Every day brings more cases, different schooling scenarios, and utter chaos—it’s so unsettling.

In the midst of all this change, I realized there was only one COVID constant—the family dog. Actually, for many, the new family dog that joined the family during the pandemic.

Day after day, my Facebook feed shows happy family members—mostly teens—holding the newest furry addition, with a look that says, They couldn’t come up with their usual lame excuses of not being home, no one to walk the dog, etc. etc., so look what I finally got! The teen’s look is smug because, well, the teens were right—in particular the many teens that said, “The dog will make our family so much better.” (I know many parents who scoffed at that one. “Can you believe she actually said that?” one friend chided.)

The Benefits of Having A Dog

We got a dog, Luna in December, just ahead of the COVID adoption curve. Truth be told, we had a fairly good setup for a dog—one dog-lovin’ kid at home, two away at school, and a mom that works from home.

Then March came and brought both boys home with no departures in sight, restoring our original nuclear family. Let’s just say Luna hasn’t been touch deprived.

I watched as my daughter, schooling in the family room, declared the 15-minute screen breaks between classes “pet the dog time.” I remember thinking that this was going to be a major problem when school resumed in the fall. Who would ever have guessed that I could put that worry aside? (Sigh.)

Luna has brought our family so much more than we gave her. In a world where schedules fell apart, with plans canceled into the foreseeable future, there was nothing that could be counted on—except the dog. Luna came with a consistent schedule of walks, feedings, and hugs.

Let’s face it—we’ve had a lot of family time since March.

And when I say a lot, I mean in the I-hope-we-don’t-kill-each-other way. No friends and outings to break it up, and no sports to reduce the family count at dinner. We’re five-for-five every single meal.

Well, six if you count Luna, sitting just shy of the table, head on the floor, looking nonchalant as she crosses her paws, praying for some scrap to hit the floor. We glance at her throughout our meals, asking each other silly questions like, “What do you think the dog is thinking right now?” and “Do you think she really can only see in black and white?”

Luna was the COVID cure we all longed for, and she is keeping us safe, frankly, from one another. I’m not sure I would have even seen my kids the last few months if they didn’t have an excuse to come down from their rooms to see the dog. I offered nothing they wanted (well, maybe dinner), and she offered everything.

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Truth be told, I don’t really care what happens to the school format. Somehow, I feel that we will all be okay. But I do care about my family’s well-being in the most intense way—and dear Luna has allowed us to come together and count on one cuddly, reliable thing.

Stephanie Silverman

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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