Alpacas, Cockapoos, Goldendoodles, Oh MY!
Walking a dog seems to be an enjoyable activity for some people. It’s a mindless routine that enables the mind to wander. Many take this time to enjoy nature, admire the landscape, listen to the birds, and talk to the neighbors….wait, stop, nope! Well, maybe if we are six feet away these days. I love walking my dog, however I love observing human nature even more. I have noticed some interesting behavior during this new social distancing world we are living in while on my ever increasing dog walks. People seem to make less eye contact, heads are looking downward, people subtly walk to the opposite side of the road, and I have even observed people holding their breath when passing others on the sidewalk. As much as this makes me sad, I understand. However, the most interesting observation transpired when my dog and I came in contact with another person and their dog. The humans were consciously practicing social distancing, while of course the dogs were not. All of a sudden my neighbor’s golden doodle sneezed on my cockapoos head. While I started to giggle, my neighbor was in a panic, “I’m so sorry, oh my goodness, I’m sorry”, she exclaimed while running off and yanking her dog in the opposite direction. I continued to say, “wait, stop, its ok”, to no avail. We are living in strange times right now, which can trigger stress, anxiety, depression, irrational thinking, and irrational behavior. What can we do? One summer I was visiting Martha’s Vineyard and stumbled across the most amazing alpaca farm. Throughout the day visitors could pet them, play with them, and do yoga classes with them. It was a beautiful place with acres of land for the alpaca’s to roam. However, on this day the alpaca’s were huddled in a circle surrounding a new born baby alpaca. The informative staff member explained that alpaca’s can only thrive in group settings and if alpacas are left all alone they will fail to survive. So this community of alpaca’s instinctively joined together around this new baby. All of the visitors were then asked to think of a name for this new baby girl alpaca. We were told to write down a name as well as our own email addresses. The staff members informed us that a name would be chosen and we would all be contacted to be told what her name would be. Soon after returning home we received the email: Grace, baby Grace, little baby Gracie would be her name. We were also informed that Grace was thriving mainly in part to her close alpaca community taking care of her. What a wonderful society they have created. So similar to humans! In this odd time, perhaps when we may need our community the most, we are told to practice social distancing. How will this affect our mental health? Will we fail to thrive? What can we do? First, give yourself grace! You can get through this. Make that phone call instead of texting, answer that phone instead of letting it go to voicemail, use facetime, or even the houseparty app. Go for that bike ride or walk, smile at your neighbor in the distance, read that book, cook that gourmet meal, and limit your social media consumption (you might want to check out island alpacas of MV on insta for a smile though). Practice your deep breathing with your added mantra: 1. Relax your neck and shoulders. 2. Unclench your jaw. 3. Remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth. 4. Close your mouth and breathe through your nose. 5. Fill your lungs with air and push out your stomach. 6. Hold your breath while repeating your mantra (mine is, This Too Shall Pass) 7. Slowly exhale through pursed lips. 8. Repeat for at least 2 – 5 minutes, 3 times a day. Give yourself grace. You can do this. This too shall pass…..