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Importance Of Pets

May 21, 2020

When local readers were recently asked for topics of most interest, one rose to the top: pets. Animal topics can be vast, and varied, in terms of taking care of the furry, feathered, flocked, thick-skinned and scaly members of our families, packs or tribes.

After receiving this assignment, I immediately started jotting down pet-related topics ranging from oral health, to diet, to exercise, to seasonal needs, to safety to pet first aid. I am looking forward to writing about, but also learning much more about, the many aspects of pets from veterinarians, technicians and rescue professionals. I will be reaching out for expert input, advice and opinions for every column.

May is National Pet Month, a fitting month to launch a column on pets. Now well within the pandemic, the year 2020 may also be a year of increased gratitude for our pets as many of us are now spending a LOT more time at home.

Ryan and Lisa Cole of Napa shared that it is proven that pet owners are happier and healthier individuals. “It only makes sense that during this crazy time when we are in social isolation our pets provide meaningful social support for us,” said Lisa Cole, an RN at Queen of the Valley Hospital.
Along with her husband Ryan Cole, a newly-retired Napa K-9 police officer, the family has three dogs, Sophie, Zeke and Claire. “They mean the world to us! We both have worked in high-stress jobs and our dogs are a huge sense of comfort,” Lisa Cole added.Napa Valley musician, educator and pianist Dave Ruane and his family cohabitate with their Labrador retriever Mozzy (legally named Mozart, appropriate for the pet of a piano teacher).

Ruane recalls that before shelter-in -place was initiated, Mozzy would greet every student at the door with a toy of his choice. “Many of my students will never have a dog, so Mozzy gets to play the surrogate. I am sure he misses everyone and his interaction with them.”

Ruane who now teaches his piano students live via FaceTime or Zoom added, “Mozzy has been a great source of comfort for us during the pandemic. He is getting a lot more walks than usual. I am gaining weight and he is losing weight! SIP has been good for him.”

Pets are definitely integral members of families. Wine marketing pro and blogger Raquel Royers lives with her cat Simba who she rescued from a farm several years ago. “He was just a little wild kitten. He has been with me through half of college, moved to multiple towns, and has now lived in every area of Napa,” said Royers, “He was most fond of Coombsville as you can imagine and loves living the Napa Valley life!”

For Royers, her cat too is family. “I was already close with my pet, but it’s been nice to have him here with me during quarantine, although I think we may both be getting on each other’s nerves,” she laughed, “I have noticed that he’s been more cuddly and now follows me around everywhere, even if I just walk to the mailbox or to take out the trash. I think he’s happy with the change of circumstances. There’s something he does every day that makes me laugh or smile, which is much needed during these times. He’s my best friend!”

Two boxers and a labrador/border vollie mix round out the family of Kimberlee and Mark Foerder who also share three grown children. “We love our fur babies and we look forward to seeing them as they are always excited to see us,” said Kimberlee Foerder who added that she thinks that the SIP has been positive for pets, “Ours are much happier, because they have one of us here all of the time. When we finally go back, it is going to be sad, I think that they are going to experience separation anxiety.”

In addition to companionship, and living a good life, some pets have duties. “Mozzy is a family member and is very spoiled and he deserves all of the attention he gets. He dutifully brings in the paper every morning, the Napa Valley Register of course,” reports Ruane, “Yet he doesn’t quite understand why people can’t pet him right now with all of the social distancing. We are all looking forward to getting back to some sense of normal, whatever that may be.”
The Cole’s dogs, which are all large and range from 45 to 70 pounds, still think that they are lap dogs. “Claire is a certified social therapy dog and has been trained to comfort individuals with PTSD and so during the pandemic and other stressful times in our careers,” explained Lisa Cole, “she has picked up on our increased stress and will automatically, without asking, come up and do her ‘lay on’ command where she lays on our chest. This has given us such a sense of calm during this stressful time.” Bringing an additional and unanticipated splash of happiness during the pandemic, Lisa Cole said that their Golden Retriever girl Claire delivered a litter of eight puppies on March 27. “Having puppies during a pandemic has been great! It has given us something to do while sheltering in place and has given us so much joy during these uncertain times. Having eight little balls of fur rolling around and playing warms our hearts and puts smiles on our faces.”

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