Recover community through dog ownership.
I've written about Javiera before. The puppy my girlfriend and I adopted this year. She is a pandemic puppy through and through. She wouldn't be in our lives had this pandemic never happened. I'm not saying the pandemic is a good thing, of course. I'm saying pet ownership has become a growing phenomenon these days of social distancing, lockdowns and home office.
I'm certain of this because everyday, when I go to the various dog parks in Mexico City, I meet many recently adopted puppies and grown dogs. And this - needless to say - makes me very happy.
One of my favorite things about owning a puppy (despite all the work it entails) is going out everyday for a walk and meeting the same puppies over and over again. I almost look forward to it as much as Javi does. Not only because this allows Javi to play around and release all that energy, but because I get to know and talk to the people in my neighborhood in a way I never had the opportunity to do before.
These are not deep conversations in any way (nor would I expect them to be) but there is a sense of community that develops around dog owners that take their puppies out for walks and play dates. We talk about shared joys and pains with our dogs. About how much they've grown, how much they eat, or how mischievous they can be.
You also have the usual characters in dog parks:
- The dude (in it tends to be an older guy) that lectures everyone about how they should teach their dogs to do so and so.
- The stressed out owner that calls her dog every 2 seconds.
- The super disciplined owner that teaches her German shepherd every trick in the book.
- The friendly guy with a lab.
- The silent not so friendly guy with the Australian shepherd.
- And so on.
I'm convinced that owning a dog, and taking it out for walks and play dates, structures and enriches your life in many ways. But it is also a way to connect with your neighborhood during a time when we have been forcefully isolated. I believe that owning a dog makes us aware of our connection to others, be it human or otherwise, and how we really want these 'others' to be happy, flourishing beings.