We’ve heard it all now; we’re working longer hours, our brains, bodies and emotions are struggling to keep up with the square vision, slouched posture and unattainable work life balance when work is life, Saturday feels like hump day and your responsibilities don’t end at 5pm. The pressure is high enough, right?
I wasn’t even thinking about the inevitable boiling point in the second week of isolation when I took a foster dog in from the Lost Dogs Home. Working from home normally one day a week, I had no issues adjusting. At first. I didn’t realise then how the normal working week would change. And truth be told I didn’t care.
My husband and I haven’t had a dog for five long years. Our last, Nova, passed as a senior and my husband struggled to move on. Living without a dog was strange to me and I tried my best to change that. But it was only when COVID-19 hit and I was home 24/7 did he agree to temporarily foster a rescue. But really, he wasn’t ready. ‘Six weeks? We can’t take that one, it’s too long,’ he said. ‘A Staffy? Too high energy.’ ‘8 months old? Puppies are a lot of work.’ Five dogs later, I got a call about a timid and gentle little girl called Macey. I remember my face burst into a smile and I accepted without speaking to the better half. Somehow I knew she would be perfect for us.
She arrived at our house fearful, cowering into corners. In fact she ran away that first day. She had been hurt badly and, maybe worse, abandoned to sit inside a cage with crying dogs around her for a month. It was on the second night my husband coaxed me into letting her sleep on the bed with us.
Within days he was cuddling her on the couch. By the end of the week he said, ‘You know I would keep her if we could’. And in that moment we became foster fails.
Macey has been with us for five weeks now and physically it has been tough. Never before have I put so much time and energy into creating routine, structure and warmth for a creature so desperate for it. Meanwhile at work, the last five weeks have been some of my most intensive. But it’s because of Macey that I take a proper break in the day to go outside, that I switch off in the evenings (after all the laptop gets in the way of cuddles), that I laugh and smile more than I have in five years, shrugging off the small stuff at work.
It has to be said that I work for an amazing employer that has promised job security through COVID times. My family and friends reach out to check in and pull back when they know I need my space.
My husband puts up with a version of me he used to only get on weekends (far less structured than the old-weekday-version). But it’s Macey who has reminded me to live in the moment. She has been hurt in ways I will never know and don’t want to imagine. She has embraced life again and doesn’t take any day for granted. She knows there is no point comparing old and new, for her there is no ‘what if the world were different’, there is no wondering about the ‘next normal’, there is just now.