Isolation is tough, even without a pandemic rampaging, but isolation in an animal shelter? I’d never thought about what that might be like, not until I met Sonya. Her extreme reactivity to other dogs meant that being kept in a shelter, even one as loving as hers, was a torture. The day I brought her home she rocketed about, launching twenty-one kilos of muscle hard into my hips and stomach, taking the wind right out of me. She was so wildly excited to play that she made play impossible. However, over these last few months of the pandemic, it’s her who’s kept me balanced. We started by focusing on the little things. How not to pull on a lead, how to trot to my heels when called, how to look into each other’s eyes when challenged rather than lose our heads in mindless howling. She’s eons away from the little imp I first met, yet I still see that rambunctious joy crop up in simply chasing a ball or frolicking in the vegetable patch. As I write, she’s contentedly napping on my feet, little paws a-twitch. Sometimes I don’t know who’s taking care of who.

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