The Only Way Out Is Through

April 4th, 2020

It’s a bizarre combination of boring and stressful. The CDC said yesterday that we should all be wearing masks in public to prevent asymptomatic infected from spreading the virus. Using terms like “asymptomatic infected” without irony and without writing about a zombie apocalypse seems…so so weird, just like everything else these days.

This is a typical workday for me just now:

  • wake up and realize that yes, this is really happening
  • get up, do what one usually does when one first gets up in the morning
  • wash hands for the first time that day
  • get dressed, go downstairs, let dogs out
  • wash hands (because I’ve touched the dogs and the doorknob)
  • usual morning ablutions, put makeup on (not sure why I’m still doing this but it makes me feel more “normal”)
  • make dogs’ breakfast, wash dog bowls
  • wash hands
  • make tea to take to work, grab whatever breakfast I will have, spray kitchen surfaces, tap, sink etc. with bleach
  • leave for work
  • arrive at work, put mask on, Lysol wipe anything and everything
  • wash hands
  • do usual but abbreviated workday but with no clients in the building, wearing a mask, staying 6′ apart from co-workers and washing hands every five minutes it seems like
  • I’ve taken a big cut in hours to help us make ends meet
  • come home, take off shoes at the door, go upstairs, take off scrubs and put right into hamper in closet, wash hands, change into “in the house” clothes, wash hands
  • eat lunch
  • go back upstairs, change into “out of the house” clothes, walk dogs
  • come home, shoes off at door, straight upstairs, take off “out of the house” clothes (which are kept in a separate room so I don’t have to wash them every single day), wash hands, change BACK into “in the house” clothes
  • do whatever for the rest of the afternoon (clean, video games, cook, eat dinner, watch “Time Team” or something equally absorbing but comforting)
  • go to bed, try to sleep, lather rinse repeat

I wash my hands somewhere between 15-50 times a day.

One of the Time Team episodes we watched this week was them digging a part of London that had been bombed badly in the Blitz. They were bombed EVERY NIGHT for 57 night. FIFTY SEVEN NIGHTS IN A ROW. More civilians died in the Blitz than soldiers died in the war. That put this into perspective a bit. All we have to do is stay home and deal with whatever the fallout of this is. We’re not getting bombed EVERY NIGHT FOR FIFTY SEVEN NIGHTS. Holy shit. Keep calm and carry on indeed.

People are nicer in general, although tempers and nerves are frayed. We wave and say hi out in the world from 6′ away. I had to go to Tops this past week, I wore a mask, and it was still really scary and stressful. Every allergy cough from post nasal drip gives me anxiety. It’s just such a bizarre time. The environment will thank us though.

End of the first PAUSE week

March 29th, 2020

So things constantly change and evolve, and I’m reading this and watching that to make sure we’re staying safe at work, since we’re open. No clients in the building, staff staying 6′ apart, if we must be closer than 6′ we wear lab coats, gloves, eye protection and masks (we have reusable cloth masks that mothers made! Mine has poodles on it). People pay over the phone and we leave their purchases in a drop box by the back door or a PPE’d staff member takes them out with their pet. I feel more relaxed at work now, since we’re all taking this seriously. And I NEED to be working. A week or so ago I was scared to leave my house, now I need the normalcy (and the paycheck). I make myself put makeup on and be presentable just like it was a regular day.

This is the the weekend I was supposed to be at the National Agility Championship. AKC.tv has agility on all weekend. I really REALLY REALLY miss agility, I miss my peeps and running my dogs. There’s no way in hell I’d want to be at a trial right now though. Talk about first world problems, but it’s just a symptom of everything that’s going on.

I think I’m coping as well as I can, but fuck it’s hard some days. The worst hasn’t hit us yet here, it could be weeks before the first peak. NYC is very hard-hit. Cuomo is keeping me sane, he follows the same plan in his addresses most days: goes through the numbers, talks about the need for PPE and ventilators etc., reminds us that MOST people don’t get that ill and just recover at home, SOME people go into the hospital for a short time then go home, a SMALL PERCENTAGE need to go on a ventilator, MOST of those are people who are older and with compromised lungs or immune systems, etc.

Social media is a blessing and a curse and I spend very little time on there compared to BC (Before COVID19). I can’t take the doom and gloom and fearmongering, it gives me a panic attack. If it’s not Cuomo, the CDC or Dr Fauci, I don’t want to know. We wipe down our packages and leave shelf stable groceries sitting in the front room for days until it seems safe to unpack them. Some days I wake up and have to remind myself that this is really happening. I hope they don’t try and make things go back to normal too soon. We need to keep this social distancing (physical distancing) up for a while if it’s going to help. I am thankful to live in a state where the folks in charge seem to get it.

The dogs get a good long walk every day pretty much. When we see people out in the world we smile and wave from across the street.

Sometimes it feels like we’re all pulling together, sometimes it feels like the zombie apocalypse. I need Jim to remind me that this isn’t Captain Tripps on the regular.

Mornings are weird. So, so quiet.

3/24/20 the next street over

What last Wednesday morning sounded like:

What last Friday morning sounded like:

We’re on PAUSE

March 23rd, 2020

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-new-york-state-pause-executive-order

We’re on pause. Essential/emergency services only.

I went in and changed our voicemail message yesterday and had to re-record it like six times because I kept crying. This is real.

I’ve seen comments from experts that if we’d all just stay away from each other for 2 weeks we’d pretty much halt this. Let’s hope this works.

It’s surreal. Birds are singing, signs of spring are everywhere, my allergies are in full swing so I’m convinced I have coronavirus every time I cough. I keep doing the math about when the last time I was anywhere near a person other than Jim was…it’s been 2 weeks since the last agility trial, one week since our last semi-normal day at work (although we stayed 6′ away from clients). We had groceries delivered on Thursday but were pretty careful about unpacking them. They say you generally have symptoms 2-14 days after exposure. I’ve been washing my hands fifty times a day like someone with OCD (because duh), and my glasses at least twice a day. I’ve been wiping my phone, my Fitbit, doorknobs, taps, light switches…. I keep seeing Hollywood movies in my head about the virus being THERE and now it’s IN ME…

I realized that last Monday was the last remotely normal work day I will have for a while. You’d think that all this not-working time would be fun and relaxing but instead it’s just scary and sad.

Mostly people are being sensible and kind. When we see someone out in the world while walking the dogs we always wave and say hi and “stay safe” which is the new “have a nice day”. This could change us in good ways I hope, when we come out the other side. My neighbor is pregnant, I can’t imagine how scared she must be, and I can’t go and ask her because virus.

We have amazing scientists and medical folks working day and night on this. The NYT daily briefing says: We have at least 70 different drugs that might help. It makes you lose your sense of smell and taste. If we’d all just freeze 6′ away from each other for 2 weeks the pandemic would be massively reduced.

I’m scared. I’m scared of the virus even though 80-85% of people can recover at home. I’m scared of what it will do to the economy. I’m scared that this will be an excuse for the federal government to stop following the law even more than they already have. These are just the most bizarre times. I am so thankful I live in New York with a governor who is doing what Cuomo is doing. He is earning his pay for sure. Even people who hate him think he’s doing a good job with this. He’s working 7 days a week and looks exhausted. He’s our Winston Churchill. Speaking of whom, I saw a thing on Facebook that really resonated with me, to paraphrase: my parents lived through a WORLD WAR, all I have to do is stay away from other people and watch Netflix. I can do that, I’ve been training for it my whole life!

More Of The Virus

March 22nd, 2020

So yesterday was the first day I was entered in an agility trial that was cancelled. The AKC National Agility Championships were postponed (I was due to leave on Tuesday, but I decided I wasn’t going the day before AKC made the call to postpone). All future trials are cancelled/postponed. As of Friday, 100% of non-essential workers must stay home, animal hospitals are essential services (we don’t need a rabies epidemic on top of COVID-19), but we’re only supposed to see emergencies and urgent cases.

It’s surreal, people are in general being really good about social distancing (staying at least 6′ away from each other, no large gatherings, etc.), although young adults are predictably being morons and are half of the new positive cases. We don’t have tests available so the true infection rate is probably significantly higher than the numbers show (which hopefully also means that the severely affected/fatal cases are lower). I don’t want to leave my house, although I do have to go to work. Starting last Tuesday, we are not allowing clients into the building, they call from the parking lot and we go out and get their pet and videoconference the appointment if they have a smart phone.

I’ve become a hypochondriac, it’s a bad allergy season and every tickle in my throat makes me think I’ve got “it”. Watching Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily briefings makes me feel better every time. He’s doing his damn job. He’s reassuring. He has a plan. He’s putting on a master class in what leadership is.

It seems like most people who get it (80-85%) can recover at home and be OK. I just hope that the social distancing and shutdowns have happened soon enough to keep our health care system from being overloaded. All that “flatten the curve” stuff is hopefully getting through to most people.

A week ago we said “have a nice day”, now we say “stay safe”.

The Virus

March 16th, 2020

A week and a half ago I was talking to Jim while we walked the dogs about how excited I was to run Nina at the National Agility Championship. That weekend we went to a trial and had a great weekend. Sure there was more hand sanitizer and hand washing than usual, and a friend talked about her fears about COVID-19 especially since she’s over 60 and her husband is in his 70’s with health issues. She said she didn’t think she was going to the NAC.

I called my friend Sue on the way home and we talked about it. We were probably still going but we’d wait a week and see how it was looking.

There was discussion on Facebook amongst agility folks. “I’m going!” “If they hold it I’m going!” “I dunno…” “Anyone rethinking it?”

And then a friend wasn’t going because her daughter begged her not to. And then I was out walking my dogs and realized I just wasn’t looking forward to it all of a sudden, I was dreading it, that the risk seemed far greater than any possible reward. There’s no way to maintain social distance from 1400+ people, there just isn’t. And did I want to be in Georgia, 1000 miles away from home, if things changed suddenly? So I decided I wasn’t going.

And then, on Friday, they announced they were postponing the NAC! I thought really hard and said I probably wouldn’t be going to the trials I’d entered over the next couple of months, but that I wouldn’t ask for my money back (after all, I want there to be agility trials again!). And then, as the weekend progressed, clubs started voting to cancel their trials. People were taking this seriously other than hoarding toilet paper!

And then, with St Patrick’s Day parades cancelled and strong recommendations to avoid crowds of more than 50 people, a bunch of fucking idiots went and crowded the bars on Chippewa in Buffalo last weekend. Probably people at lower risk, but you never know. Fuck.

Since I’m an introvert anyway, spending a non-agility weekend at home puttering around, doing some cleaning (albeit with more bleach than usual), playing some video games (“No Man’s Sky” again), walking the dogs….this isn’t in any way an unusual weekend for us. Staying home comes naturally to us. I’m sure for extroverts this whole social distancing thing is very tough. But we need to do it. Jim’s been told he’s teaching from home. I love my job but I wish it was one I could telecommute to (although we’re very small and never have more than a couple of clients in the building at any one time and we’re cleaning like the Queen is coming to visit). I want to hunker down. I’m already such a hermit that this comes naturally to me, it really makes me want to go nowhere I don’t have to go.

Yes, they still say 80% of illnesses are mild, but…a 47 year old EMT just died in Italy.

I’m scared. I feel like the week before last was the last normal week we’ll have for a while (as my friend Mr. Todd said). I didn’t know that trial was going to be my last agility trial for a while, I wouldn’t have done anything differently, but it would have imbued it with…something. The CDC is saying they will likely recommend no large gatherings for at least 8 weeks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if its much, much more than that.

We’ve had so many pandemic/zombie/disaster movies, we should be well-prepared – the folks in the bars on Chippewa, whistling past the graveyard, should know that they’re the ones we roll our eyes at in the movies, who of course get bitten by zombies and end up eating brains. I get it, I think, they want normality, they don’t want to acknowledge this nightmare is fast becoming reality, THIS IS AMERICA, yadda yadda. But they probably won’t get too sick, they’ll just become disease vectors for their parents and grandparents, and their workmates and their families. And they’ll spread this thing. Mental health is important, of course it is, but their actions could have real, serious, fatal consequences.

We have amazing scientific minds working on this. We will hopefully come out the other side of it eventually. But only if people start taking it seriously.

I’m trying not to panic, having anxiety makes this very difficult, and I’m attempting to limit my news exposure to a couple of science-oriented articles a day and official reports. I’m washing my hands so many times a day it’s funny (it’s not even 8 AM and I’ve probably already washed my hands 5 times).

I don’t even know what the point of this post is, other than to document for myself how quickly things have changed. A week ago last Friday I was walking my dogs and excited about agility. Now I’m bleaching my doorknobs and washing my hands every 15 minutes. This is the new normal now, all of a sudden. We have three confirmed cases in Erie county, which we knew was going to happen (and there are probably more who haven’t been tested yet). It’s scary. I’m trying. I’m washing my hands. Oh boy am I washing my hands.

Butler Dog Training Club

March 8th, 2020

New judge to us Nicholas Carleton gave us some really fun, fast courses with some interesting challenges. Nina had yet another perfect weekend and is now just one QQ away from her PACH, Zhora went 3/4 and is now 11 QQ’s away from her MACH 7.

Coronavirus was on peoples’ minds, lots of hand sanitizer and people discussing whether or not they were going to the National Agility Championship.

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (QQ #18):

Zhora Saturday Standard (Q):

Nina Saturday Standard (QQ #18):

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (QQ #129):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (QQ #19):

Zhora Sunday Standard (QQ #129):

Nina Sunday Standard (QQ #19):

HABOC AKC Agility Trial

February 23rd, 2020

Judge Stephanie Capkovic was new to us. Courses were ok but some really snarky traps. Nina had a PERFECT WEEKEND, and Zhora went 3/4. Alice earned an Open FAST leg and an Open JWW leg and had some really nice things to like in every run.

Zhora Saturday Jumpers (NQ):

Nina Saturday Jumpers (PACH QQ # 16, first place, 19 points):

Alice Saturday Open FAST (Q):

Zhora Saturday Standard (Q, second place, 26 points):

Nina Saturday Standard (PACH QQ # 16, first place, 33 points):

Alice Saturday Open Standard (NQ):

Alice Saturday Open JWW (Q):

Second view:

Zhora Sunday Jumpers (QQ #127, 12 points):

Nina Sunday Jumpers (PACH QQ #17, first place, 18 points):

Alice Sunday Time 2 Beat (NQ):

Zhora Sunday Standard (QQ #127, only 8″ Q, 25 points):

Nina Sunday Standard (PACH QQ #17, first place, 31 points):

Alice Sunday Open Standard (NQ):

Alice Sunday Jumpers (NQ but really nice run):

Alice Training

February 16th, 2020

Just some noodling around, some excellent distance weave work!

Alice Agility League

February 15th, 2020

Last week of agility league. I think it was well worth it, although Alice didn’t like running on mats on a hard floor and slowed down pretty considerably because of it.

This last week was CPE games. Fullhouse and Colors. Our team finished fourth overall but first in Fullhouse.

Fullhouse:

Colors:

Cora!

February 9th, 2020

Beautiful Cora earned her NA and OAJ titles this weekend with Jan Robles! Cora is the Zhorabert formerly known as Popcorn and is also known as Alkemi Corona del Roble LS CD NA OAJ BCAT RATS