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The Perfect Antidote to Pandemic Worries? My Dogs

My dogs are blissfully unaware of my Big Worry. They don’t know why everyone is home all the time these days; they are just happy for the belly rubs and extra treats. And I, for one, am willing to risk a few face licks during these germaphobic times in exchange for the reassurance and calm I find in my fur babies.

All dogs have ADHD, and I have four of them. That makes five of us here at home with the condition. We train together in obedience (my just-turned-one-year-old puppy), agility (all except the oldest, who has joint problems), and nosework (every single one of them).

That brings me to the impact of today’s crisis . Our private nosework session this week was outdoors and one-on-one with the instructor. (Nosework is a dog-plus-me team sport that requires my dogs to find a hidden scent, ignoring distractions. We’ve earned our Nosework I title.) We stayed the requisite six feet apart and everything was fine.

The advanced nosework class, however, was held indoors with five other dogs and owners. We were warned to put distance between us, to block dogs from drinking from the same bowl, to avoid petting anyone else’s dog or touching anyone else’s leash, and so on. Dog fur is, after all, just another surface on which bacteria can lurk.

Nosework is done one dog at a time and we usually record each other’s training by exchanging cell phones. This week, however, there was no touching of phones. Instead, we set up a tripod, and we were told not to touch it, but to wiggle our phones in between two spring-loaded braces. The instructor would press the record button with a sanitized wipe.

After the first turn, I was impatient and frustrated. The phone went in crookedly, and I almost knocked over the tripod. Argh! It was just too much work. I was on the verge of taking my dogs home and locking the doors. Staying away from this disease was a pain in the butt.

[Free Resource: How to Use CBT to Combat Negative Thoughts]

I want to keep it far from my household. My husband has cystic fibrosis, a serious lung disease. And he’s over 65. Two strikes against him. I have a constant, grinding fear. Needless to say, I am vigilant about avoiding any possible exposure.

Then the Internet informed me that I was not supposed to kiss my dogs, let them lick my face, or sleep in the same bed with me. That did it! I needed to know if dogs really were carriers of the disease.

Yes, there was that dog in Hong Kong who supposedly was infected, but the facts had been sensationalized. The dog tested only faintly positive and had no viral symptoms. He shared a household with someone who actually did test positive for the disease.

Probably my dogs weren’t going to make me sick. But just in case, I gave them all baths, then kissed them (ha!), and gave them tons of butt rubs.

A few studies show that dogs have a positive effect on children with ADHD. Even without a study, I daresay they have the same effect on adults with the condition.

Fortunately for my mental health, my dogs are blissfully unaware of my Big Worry. They bounce around, nudge my leg if I am a minute late with their dinners, and cuddle with me on the sofa. Their presence mitigates some of my anxiety. And they’re so darned cute! So I’m willing to risk a few face licks in this germaphobic world in exchange for the reassurance these fur babies provide: The world will be OK. Eventually.

[Read This Next: ADHD Catastrophizing in Times of Crisis: What To Do When Fear Spirals]

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