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By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life

As we emerge from the pandemic, it would be great if we could feel like a cat waking up from a long, lazy afternoon nap in the sun. But even though we’ve been holed up in our caves, we haven’t been hibernating. The pandemic has been exhausting for most of us, and we probably feel more sleep-deprived than well-rested.

Our pets may have helped us stay grounded during the pandemic by providing us with companionship, love, and wagging tails and purring to relieve our stress.

Plus, we may have figured out there’s plenty that our kitties, puppies, hamsters, and even goldfish can teach us about what we’ve been through and what lies ahead.

Improvise to Stay Fit

Your dogs love to romp around outside and play, and your cats will lunge and jump and tumble after a feather on a string. It’s a great way to burn calories and stay active. During the pandemic, we learned how important it was to stay healthy and physically active.

With gyms closed and group activities like intramural softball leagues on hiatus, we had to improvise by creating our own activities, much the way cats tend to ignore the toys we buy for them and play with a stray piece of string or rolled-up newspaper instead. 

Even as the pandemic is easing and the CDC has issued interim guidelines for the fully vaccinated, we can still apply some of those lessons: Why spend hundreds of dollars on a gym membership when you can buy some inexpensive weights, stretch, and go for a jog or bike ride around the neighborhood? Improvising can be a lot more fun. Just ask your cat.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Ever notice how easygoing your cat is? She’ll sleep 12 to 16 hours a day, and if there’s a change in her surroundings, she seems to shrug it off with a yawn and sleepy eyelids. Your dog may lie contentedly at your feet most of the time, seemingly without a care in the world.

We had to adjust to new surroundings during the pandemic, like working from home and staying off the road. While most of us were able to do that, our efforts were not without a bit of hand-wringing and worry. To make matters worse, many of our concerns are commonly out of our control, like when the pandemic would end and things would go back to “normal.”

Our pets don’t sweat the small stuff. They just go with the flow for the most part. The pandemic taught us that we could, too, at least when we needed to.

Find Ways to Communicate 

We don’t speak our dog’s language, but most of the time, we have an idea what he’s saying. He doesn’t speak English (or Spanish, or Italian, or German), but he knows how to bark and tell you someone unfamiliar is at the door or in your yard. And you know if he licks your face he’s glad to see you, even if it is a bit slobbery.

Just like our pets, we found ways to communicate during the pandemic, connecting via social media, Zoom, email, and text. Thanks to technology, we kept having family dinners, birthday celebrations, and weddings together, even while we were forced to be apart. 

Still, none of it was as rewarding as connecting in person. So now that restrictions are easing, it’s time to reconnect. (Just don’t go around licking each other’s faces.)

Stay Safe on the Road

Male un-neutered dogs are the most likely of all pets to jump out of the car window and get hit by a car.  Other dogs aren’t too thrilled about car trips. They get in the car and immediately curl up on the seat or on the floor where it’s cool and safe. They’re worried about this weird new thing called a car and where it might be taking them — especially if it’s to the vet with his mean ol’ needles and all those other strange pets.

They may be worried over nothing, but they’re right about one thing: Being in a car isn’t something to take lightly. If you’re a human, you’ll want to take steps to make sure your car is road ready, especially if it’s been sitting for a while during the pandemic. 

And be sure to wear a seatbelt. It’s even more important now that more people are back on the road. According to recent seat belt statistics, vehicle occupants are 30 times more apt to be ejected if they’re not wearing seatbelts, and we can’t curl up on the floor like our dogs can.   

Make Your Space Your Own

Birds make nests, dogs dig holes in the dirt, and cats fuss around before they find the perfect position to lie in. During the pandemic, we had to make our own spaces, too. We learned to create home offices that fit our mood and vibe perfectly, and it helped us become more productive during months of remote work.

For many of us, the work-from-home situation is becoming permanent, so the lessons we learned during the pandemic still apply. Clear a space for yourself that’s comfy: Build a nest where you can feel at home, whether you’re working or relaxing. Decorate it with art and plants, set up an ergonomic workstation, and set the mood with your favorite music. Be like your pet. Just don’t fall asleep on the job like your kitten does.

We learned a lot from our pets during the pandemic. Maybe we should have been paying attention to how they handle life all along. More play, less stress? That probably sounds pretty good. We shouldn’t have needed a pandemic to find out how much our pets know that we don’t. But at least we’ll have a clue going forward.

Lessons We Can Continue to Take Forward

Our pets taught us many special lessons- the value of touch, non-verbal communication and social circles.  We need those things and so do our pets.  Just like pets need fresh air and stimulation (no more cabin fever), we can invest in window perches for our dogs and cats, make sure to get plenty of fresh air and vitamin D and mind our overall physical and mental health.

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