We first met back in May, 2020, 16 months ago. A family friend gave a dog, me, the opportunity to describe what a dog’s life was like during this pandemic’s first two months. Your four-legged friends share your daily moods and stress. All of our lives  —two- and four-legged, continue to change.

Two years ago, before this Thing rolled in, I was the only one home. It was so peaceful, but all day the phone would constantly ring. I couldn’t answer it. I don’t have hands. Now, my parents are home all day and they’re muttering about someone called Robo. They slam the phone down and words come out that no kids or dogs should ever hear.

People and dogs walk along Gooch’s Beach in Kennebunk in a dense fog in late August. Gregory Rec photo/Press Herald

My parents talk about lost time, almost 19 months, since this Thing descended on us. They forget that one human year is the same as seven years in a dog’s life. Do I get any sympathy now that we’ve kissed off almost 14 years of my life? If they were smokers, I’d be knocking off even more years.

Since we last met, it’s still pajamas and sweats around here. My human brother and sister are late getting out of bed. Everyone is moody and lethargic. They’re grazing all day with a shock coming when they step on a scale. Working from home and remote learning, we have four screens and two phones going fulltime. That’s when I hide under a bed.

For the first few months, my chow was prime — Iams with a gourmet, gravy-like topping — a dog’s vision of a banana split. Then my mom met Mr. Inflation at the grocery store and I’ve had to say goodbye to the deluxe stuff.

We live near the ocean, but I don’t understand all this talk about waves, especially this fourth wave. We did have some celebrations when something called Government kept sending us a gift called Stimulus. Our whooping and hollering, you’d have thought it was Christmas!

Some humans on the news say they don’t want to meet Mr. Vaccine. The nice lady, my vet, keeps me up on my shots, but with all the arguing, I’m glad dogs don’t have to meet Vaccine.

I did hear through the canine grapevine, that some big cats at the zoos have caught the Thing and they’re meeting Vaccine. Now that the hesitants know that cats and even apes are being saved by a visit with Vaccine, why would they continue to refuse the shots?

My sex life has become non-existent. It’s not that I want to be celibate, because I do admire all those four-legged beauties out there. On the sidewalks, I’m on a leash now. At the dog-park or beach, we’re off-leash, but we’re under constant adult supervision. They won’t let us get beyond the smelling prelims. I envy the older dogs and their “good old days,” when a dog could roam the neighborhood at all hours. As long as Thing hangs around, I won’t get lucky.

Late in this second summer, finally after 18 months, the word was out — “We’re going back!” We all acted like a bunch of goofy kids. Mom and dad, excited about meeting Office again, went clothes shopping so the PJs and sweats could go back into the closet. I was going to get my peace and quiet back!

My brother and sister went on a post-pent-up binge shopping spree for school stuff. The online “distance learning” was history. Talk about excitement! I don’t know where they were going to meet School, but a big yellow RSU 21 school bus stopped, loaded them up, and hauled them merrily on their way.

Less than two weeks later, Thing and the fourth wave sent my sibs home, frustrated and crying. They had been declared “close contacts.” Office still wasn’t ready to meet them, so mom and dad were back watching their screens and working the phones.

For our outs and about, masks are back on. Meeting fellow dog walkers during my three-a-day required walks, my parents and I miss seeing the smiles and facial expressions which carry just as much warmth as the back-and-forth words.

My family wears those blue masks which are so blah and impersonal. Finally some style has partnered with safety. New more expensive and re-useable masks told us who to vote against or for in the 2020 election or feature company logos, our college’s colors, or our favorite pro teams’ logos.

Many Mainers, including our two U.S. Senators, wear the Maine Bicentennial flag mask for the celebration that never took place. My favorite mask is the one that shows a painted, open-smiling mouth. We dogs are so thankful that Governor Mills didn’t require us to wear masks.

There’s non-stop chatter about some form of a Proof of Vaccination ID being required soon. Will it be a human collar with ID tags attached, just like the one I’m forced to wear?

The weather has crossed over into the fall and soon my mom will go shopping for my new winter coat. I already have a warm, broken-in, all natural coat, but you know mothers. I do like the little booties which protect my paws from road salt, ice, and when I step into the snow to do my thing.

The Halloween decorations are going up, though we won’t be going trick-or-treating. I am sick and tired of being a pirate with an eye patch. Do you know how hard it is for a dog to change a “woof” into an “aarrgh,” Mate? This year, I’ll use the woke argument that its “cultural misappropriation.”

Recently, newscasts told us that Larry was coming to Maine. We went to our favorite beach, Gooch’s, to meet him. There were so many SUVs and pick-up trucks, you would have thought it was the Fourth of July.

We saw over a hundred people wearing shiny black suits, out on the ocean, sitting on wood slabs. Once in awhile, one of them would stand up and try to walk to the shore. They’d fall down, sink, and then dog-paddle back to their wood slab. They did keep trying.

Even a dog, slapped in the face by waves thousands of times, playing the human’s dumb game of throwing a ball into the water, so we’ll retrieve it, knows humans and dogs can’t walk on water. We never met Larry, but we were hit with heavy rainfall and gusts that made my three-a-day walks pure misery.

Nineteen months in now, even a dog knows that if we don’t up the number of jabs in the arms, soon approve a new vaccine for those 5 to 12, or don’t wear our masks, nothing is going to change. It will still be the same old, same old!

Tom Murphy is a retired history teacher and state representative. He is a Kennebunk Landing resident and can be reached at [email protected]

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