A house is never lonely where a loving dog waits—even in quarantine.
There’s no doubt about it: the pandemic made a rough year for everyone, everyday lives plagued by loneliness and tragic news. Add to that the hardship of being a healthcare worker dedicating long hours to your job, and you’re met with the kind of stress that only a dog’s unconditional love could remedy. For Jen, a third-generation nurse living in the Boston area, pockets of happiness in an otherwise rough time came in the form of affection from her canine companion, Salt.
As the Director of Nursing for a nursing home facility, Jen is no stranger to twelve-hour work days. “At the beginning of this, we were so afraid—none of us knew how this virus worked. My exposure at work meant isolating myself from my family,” Jen recalled, noting how she had spent months apart from her daughter in vet school and her elderly father, even though he lived just across the street.
Ordinary days were spent either at work or in her neighborhood with Salt by her side—always close to home, always in each other’s company. Not a fan of the snow (a diva, as Jen affectionately calls her) Salt will avoid outside playtime if the ground is cold, but enjoys walks together on a nearby bike path. A gentle giant that looks like a greyhound, Salt would sprint in circles, grumbling with a tough persona that defies her gentle-giant nature. On calmer mornings, they’d peer through the window together while Jen got ready for work, searching for wildlife in her open yard. “I have these conversations with her everyday,” Jen said, “She listens intently. I believe she understands me, but who knows.”
A newfound fan of midday naps, Jen appreciates Salt’s tendency to match her sleep schedule with ceaseless cuddles—whether for restful relaxation or recovery. Having recently gotten her COVID vaccine and enduring some standard side effects, Salt stuck by her side while she spent the day lounging in bed. “Your dog knows when you’re having a bad day, or don’t feel so hot,” Jen said of the time she spent on the mend with Salt. “She sat on the bed with me, and if I sat on the couch, she was just on top of me, watching me.”
Both Salt and Jen have been relieved to reunite with her now-vaccinated father, who was thankful to be able to pay Salt a visit for her birthday this year. “It’s a huge support for him, too, to just come over—even if I’m not here—and see what Salt’s doing, give her carrots since she’s allergic to everything,” Jen laughed. “I think she’s pretty much supported multiple family members through this whole process just by being here.”
While it may sometimes feel like there’s no end to the pandemic in sight, Jen and Salt know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—and Salt’s companionship makes it a bit easier to find.
“Moving forward, as things continue, I would anticipate that she’ll still be that very clingy dog,” said Jen, considering how her social life with Salt will move along now that her and her family are vaccinated. “She’ll still be that clingy dog who has no clue about social distancing and space.”