How my dog has helped me through the pandemic

By Emily Keens

This is Penny. She’s my two (nearly three) year-old Labrador who has been my running buddy, listening ear and best friend since 2018. However, until the pandemic, I never truly appreciated the companionship and loyalty she gives me unconditionally every day. 

Like most people, my world was flipped upside down by the pandemic. I couldn’t go to the gym; my home was now my workplace and I couldn’t see my friends and family.  

But for Penny - blissfully unaware of a global pandemic - the past year has been the best year. Throughout the day she is by side in her office (bed), snoring her head off during Teams calls or squeaking her toy extra loud at the exact moment I unmute my microphone.  

Over the past year, I’ve begun to understand her behaviour and mind more than I thought was possible, which has forced me to reflect inwards on myself. 

Penny, like most dogs, is very good at picking up on my emotions. She knows exactly when I want to relax and just watch Netflix, or when I’m anxious and just need distracting by her goofy self – cue chasing after a squirrel on a walk or giving me a nudge for a cuddle when I get stressed. In fact, she has helped me become much more attuned to my own emotions, helping me to be kinder to myself and more mindful to the things that actually make me happy.  

Most importantly, she has made me realise that taking life one day at a time is healthy, and that rushing around and keeping constantly busy, just isn’t good for anyone.  

I know not everyone has, or can have a pet, but I do know we can learn a lot from our animal friends – whether that’s a cat, dog, bird, rabbit or fish! 

We can learn to live in the moment and not worry about what lies ahead.  

We can learn to appreciate the little things whether that’s watching an episode of your favourite programme, cooking your favourite meal or, in Penny’s case, running round the house with my socks!  

We can learn to be kind to ourselves and others, and check in with our friends, family and work colleagues to make sure they’re doing okay. Just asking someone ‘How are you?’ could make all the difference.  

So, if you do have a fluffy friend or you’re thinking about getting one, enjoy every moment with them, because they’re probably having the best time with you every day. 

Want to read more from Emily and Penny? Read Emily's other blog about how running has also helped her get through the lockdowns. 


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