This beautiful photo of a sunset in the coastal town where I live, was taken by a neighbor. Just looking at it makes me feel calm. Makes me stop and consider how lucky I am to live here. As we’re all doing our best to not spread the Covid-19 virus, as we wave to our neighbors but don’t hug them, as we wear gloves when we run into the supermarket for a few items (probably not toilet paper or Purell), as we watch the news and try not to panic, it’s easy to wonder what we should be doing.

My dog, Rudy, a working therapy dog, looks at me and I can’t explain to him why we can’t go to the hospital or the schools where we were volunteering. But he’s happy to go anywhere so we’re taking more hikes, exploring new trails, keeping active. Something as simple as this gives me hope, takes me out of the endless loop of crisis thinking, and makes me grateful for the healthcare workers who are on the front lines. They don’t get to stop. They don’t have extra time. They’re taking care of us.

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned from hundreds of visits to the hospital with Bella, my first therapy dog, and now Rudy, is that the staff often need us more than the patients. They rush out from behind the nurse’s station and throw their arms around the dog. They get down on the floor, hugging, patting, and acting as if they’re witnessing a miracle. Which in a way they are. Dogs are experts at comfort, at being present, at generosity.

Rudy is stretched out on the rug under my desk, snoring slightly. If he could offer advice I think he’d tell us to take a deep breath, get outside, take a nap, stay present. That’s what we should be doing.

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