Lessons from my dog during a pandemic

By Laura Hardin

Contributing Writer

I flew back home to Naples, Fla. on March 14 and upon opening my front door, I was greeted by one of my two dogs. It did not take long to notice Sully, my six year old Maltese, had acquired a new friend –a stuffed crab. Sully apparently found his new best friend in my family’s move somewhere along the way from Boston, Mass. to Naples, Fla.

As the days turn into weeks, I have observed just how attached Sully is to this random object. His behavior is such a surprise because as a puppy, he was never attached to toys. My family would buy him a new toy occasionally but within a week, they would disappear. He would take them outside and hide them somewhere in the seven acres of woods behind my old home, and eventually forget about them. You knew it was finally springtime when toys would slowly pop up from beneath the melting New England snow. 

No one particularly knows how Sully’s stuffed crab came into our lives or why he became so attached. Moving across the country is a big change for such a small dog.  Like COVID-19, the red crab showed up at our doorstep and now it is everywhere Sully goes.

Watching Sully hang with his new best friend has given me the chance to reflect on who our support systems might be during this uncertain time filled with big changes. Just as Sully counted on Mr. Crab for comfort during the move, we all began to lean on each other for support. With all of this “forced” free time there’s a greater chance of loneliness and that can be debilitating. 

Laura’s Maltese dog, Sully, carrying around his toy ‘Mr. Crabs’ like a security blanket. Photo Courtesy from Laura Hardin.

My best friend from high school, Tzippa Marchette, 22, told me about her experience quarantining in Boston.

“The loneliness and staying inside all day is exacerbating my sadness. I can keep myself occupied if I go out, be with friends, go to work or drive places that I really like. Now that all those things have been taken away, it’s been really difficult. It’s getting to the point where I can’t even get out of bed.”

Hearing Tzippa made me realize that now that we aren’t distracted by our everyday lives, there are so many things we take for granted –like the relationships and friendships we have. There are people I used to see in my everyday life that I don’t anymore, and it feels like there’s a large part of me missing. But then I remember my “Mr. Crabs.” These are the people that support me in times of uncertainty. My friends Charlie and Izzy never forget to see how I am really doing, my cousin Jennie’s quirky antics during our video calls remind me how good it will feel to laugh together in person once again and my mother and sister support me through my anxiety.

 In this unnerving, upsetting and anxiety-provoking time it is okay to feel any sort of emotion. Watching Sully carry around Mr. Crab, reminds me to tell the people I lean on that I’m thinking of them.