Idon’t know about you but things have been slightly on the huh of late. Lockdown has been a trouble-free and even enjoyable time in our home. The ‘office’ has had a rather overdue spring clean, our refurbishment programme has progressed and we’ve got to know more of our neighbours, at least at weekly communal clapping level. And technology that actually works has been invaluable when it comes to keeping work and business going.
Social distancing is. . . well, a bit odd. Don’t get me wrong – I completely agree with the need to keep our distance to avoid spreading potentially lethal and life limiting diseases, Covid-19 or any other virus come to that. And we’re a long way from being able to freely meet and greet like we did pre-March 23. But nothing takes the place of face to face, human to human communication and that’s something most of us have been missing. We can meet again, albeit in a limited way, and that feels like a step in the right direction.
One of the things that’s kept our household feeling something like ‘normal’ during lockdown is our four-legged member of the family. Harry, our five-year-old Labrador retriever, has been oblivious to the global crisis going on around him. And that’s been remarkably soothing. It’s been reassuring to be part of his unchanged routine – waking up every day with the knowledge that there will be two lots of walkies (us taking it in turns until things were relaxed a bit), the usual delicious doggy menu unaffected by panic buying, and the exciting daily appearance of the postman/woman (thank you, Felixstowe PO).
I believe many, many other Suffolk (and UK) households have been just as grateful for the comfort of their pets, especially dogs. You only have to take a look at social media to see just what a source of fun, humour, entertainment and affection dogs have provided during lockdown as people post pictures and videos of their antics. They’re a proven benefit to our physical and mental wellbeing.
So, this issue we decided to pay tribute to Suffolk’s dogs – to invite some owners to share their pictures and stories, to meet Brainy Dogs that help humans and Troy the rookie police dog, and a couple devoted to giving dogs the perfect staycation.
Our feature is also prompted by the fact that July would have been the month for Suffolk Dog Day, when thousands of people and their dogs flock to Helmingham Hall for a day of fun and fundraising for Suffolk Community Foundation. SCF is a key organisation for the county, helping to change lives through enabling philanthropy, and managing grantmaking funds and foundations. Dog Day, held every year, has raised more than £500,000 for Suffolk charities and cancellation of the 2020 event, due to Covid-19, means a loss of around £50K in fundraising for Suffolk charities just at a time when they need it most.
So, SCF has come up with an online event instead of Dog Day which harnesses the ‘paw power’ of dogs and their owners in Suffolk. Dog lovers are being asked to rise to the #Gimme5 Challenge in support of vulnerable Suffolk young people. It’s really simple. Go for a 5k walk with your dog, make a donation of £5 on the Just Giving page, then tag five friends on social media to do the same. Why not give it a go? You’ll be doing that dog walk anyway…
ABOVE: Editor of Suffolk Magazine Jayne Lindill with her dog Harry on Felixstowe beach