The Covid Chronicles- Dino (Pennsylvania, USA)


Continuing our series of the Covid Chronicles, we have Suzanne Fluhr, a blogger and dog owner in Pennsylvania, USA

I’m an almost recovered lawyer. I now have finally become comfortable referring to myself as “retired with significant hobbies” which are blogging, and Zentangle (a meditative creative art form). My husband, Mr./Dr. Excitement, and I are empty nesters. Our 2 sons are 30-somethings who live independently and are self supporting. The older one even found someone to marry.

We have downsized several times from a 5 bedroom house in the suburbs. We now reside in a 4th floor, 3 room apartment condominium on the edge of Center City Philadelphia. Mr./Dr. Excitement still has a day job as a medical researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. His office/lab is only a 15 minute walk from the back entrance to our community.

Our first downsize was to an apartment on the 16th floor of a Center City Philadelphia high rise. Our dog adjusted seamlessly to riding an elevator. We’ve never had a fenced yard, even when we lived in the suburbs. I’ve never wanted to have an excuse not to have to walk our dog in rain, snow, sleet, or gloom of night. (Stolen from the slogan of the United States Postal Service who claims to deliver our mail in said conditions).

What dogs do you have?

We have 1 dog, a 15 year old deaf cockapoo named Dino. Dino was adopted from an animal shelter when our younger son was in his last year of high school. This coincided with my semi-retirement when I started to just write briefs at home rather than have to go into the office. Our son had always wanted a dog and figured this was his chance because our excuse for not having a dog was that no one was home during the day. I pointed out that he’d be leaving home for university in a year, after which the dog would be mine to take care of, plus we hoped to travel more. We compromised at going to an animal shelter just to look. Yeah. Right.

City’s Covid 19 Status:

Philadelphia has been on a “Stay at Home” order since mid-March. Only essential workers can work, including mostly healthcare, food services and public safety workers. We are permitted to leave home to shop for food, and to exercise outside alone or with a household member with whom we reside. Schools are closed. We are to practice social distancing which is defined as being no closer than 6 feet (3.6 meters) from another person outside our “stay at home” group. My husband is a physician-scientist. His was instructed to shut down all his active laboratory research and to work from home. This has been a fortuitous turn of events for us because since early March I have been mostly confined to our apartment because of vertebral compression features. Some days I can barely walk even inside. This means that household chores (including taking care of me and Dino) have fallen on his shoulders.

Usually, I am the person who is mainly in charge of our dog, Dino, in terms of feeding him and walking him four times a day. However, Mr. Excitement has now taken over dog duties. Dino is a VERY easy going, love the one you’re with, dog. I feel like I now sometimes get reproachful looks from him, like “what have you done for me lately?” He knows who’s going to tend to his needs, so now Mr. E. has become his major person.

The biggest change for us and Dino is that now with spring here, we would probably take him to the local off leash dog park. I don’t know if that’s even open. Dino’s four daily walks are in our community. Where we used to indulge Dino in the opportunity for mutual butt sniffing with other dogs while we conducted some type of social interchange with the other dog’s person, but now we all try to avoid getting to close to each other.

What do you do for a living?

  I’m a retired lawyer with significant hobbies: blogging and Zentangle (a meditative communal art form). My husband, with whom I’m confined, is a physician scientist who does medical research into treatment for mesothelioma and lung cancer.

What is your normal day routine like?

Actually, the biggest change from my daily routine is that my husband is around all day. This is fortuitous timing for me because I am incapacitated by vertebral compression fractures. My husband has diagnosed my sleeping issues as a Delayed Phase Circadian Rhythm Disorder. This means I can sleep for 6-8 hours, but not when I’m supposed to. My drive to sleep is between 4 a.m. and 11 a.m. Dino had adjusted to my schedule during the week. He would sleep until whenever I got up. The first thing would then be his walk. Now that my husband is working from home, he has taken over Dino’s 4 walks a day and feeding him his 2 meals. Dino has eaten exactly the same thing for 10 year for every meal. Yet, he greets every meal with gusto, as though every meal is the best meal he has ever had.

Are you and the dog doing ok?

As is mentioned above, Dino is doing better than I am since I’m incapacitated. He likes having his pack all together.

Top 3 tips to keep your dog engaged?

I used to worry that I was too boring for our dog, but now that he’s 15, I don’t think he minds laying around all day. He still enjoys his walks. He still gets pretty much the same walks he would have had.

What do you and your dog miss most under a covid world?

One restriction we have is that my sister and I are not allowed to visit our 95 year old mother who lives in a nursing home. This is heart-breaking because she has trouble remembering why no one in her family is visiting her. This doesn’t directly involve our dog, but he is her favorite grand-dog and she used to enjoy seeing photos of him. P.S.: Don’t tell my sister’s dogs.

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