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Pets are the best cure for cabin fever

February 16, 2020

Spring is just around the corner. March will soon descend, bringing howling winds and chapped lips. The question is, are you prepared, for a lot has changed these past couple of months.

In between two major holidays, one thing we can’t do is go back to the past, especially to our old appearance. Even our hands no longer resemble anything human. We are so used to opening plastic containers that they often are mistaken for some crustacean-type claws, especially when we say, “Pass the salt.” If you thought those pesky little packing peanuts were annoying, you haven’t tried to pry open a package of insoles lately.

This plastic has the consistency of a type of cement that is mainly used by the Mafia for stuff like cement shoes. People have used their teeth, often requiring tooth implants the following week. They’ve used scissors, stabbing over and over again like the shower scene in the movie “Psycho,” and finally taken axes to a package containing two AAA batteries.

I recently found out that the secret to opening these difficult plastic containers is to just give them to the dog. Any animal can shred this stuff open in a matter of seconds. In fact, the only way I could get from the car to the back door on a visit in past holidays was to throw the granddogs two plastic water bottles. They pounced on them like they found a winning lottery ticket. Once their attention was diverted, I made a break for it. You only have a few moments to act, since the average attention span of this particular Golden Retriever and Black Lab is 45 seconds.

It’s not that these dogs are dangerous, it’s just they greet you as if you have just come back from a deployment to Iraq and they haven’t seen you in over a year. They come running like thousands of fleeing Japanese in a Godzilla movie, then stop, remember why they are running, realize you are there and proceed to throw their arms around you, sobbing and carrying on as if they have just been paroled to a halfway house.

We know that animals are a big part of our lives, especially during the cabin fever months just before spring. We care about them, and more importantly, want their approval. I took the granddogs on a walk in the park last year while I was visiting. The sun had just descended behind the trees, and the path was dim with a nice, dusky glow. Yet I found myself wondering why I was leading two enormous dogs with Norwegian sweaters and matching hats on their heads. I really couldn’t comment on them since we passed a car on the way over with reindeer antlers sticking out from the side windows. I guess what is good for the goose is good for the gander; I have no idea what that means, either. But dogs don’t really care what you think of their attire. As long as there is a scent in the air, you could put them in an apron and chef’s hat, it wouldn’t matter.

On many an occasion, I’ve turned my back and found wrappers from cookies, butter sticks, bread, birth control pills and the occasional Christmas gift on the floor. As long as it will fit in their mouths, it’s fair game. They figure after you’ve let them in and out of the sliding patio door for the hundredth time, you won’t care either.

And if you catch them in the act of, say, eating an eye of round cut of beef that you’ve just paid $10 a pound for, the dog will get that expression on his face that says, “What? Are you looking at me?”

No, we have to have animals during these months, because they are great fun for a family and comfort for those alone. They can open all the packages for you, since your hands will be curled into claw shapes after they are pried loose from the steering wheel of your car, where you have been circling the last month looking for your gloves. So keep those critters warm and safe; they’ll get you ready for spring break.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.