The Avondhu - By The Fireside


- Mary Meaney

By anyone’s standard 2021 was a hard year as Covid-19 dominated our lives. Lockdown was an accelerate­d time for dogs; this was the reason it was named ‘The Year of the Dog’ - meaning everyone and their dog - had a dog!

There was the serious crime of dog-napping in this country and because of that, I had to be supervised at all times. My family were extremely paranoid and ruminated over the worsecase scenarios. At night when nature took its course, I was allowed no privacy; there was a flashlight beamed down on me, in case the kidnappers made the attempt to climb the high wall at midnight to capture their prize. It is not kind to take a human’s peace of mind away like that.

But they forget, that I am the guardian/protector of our home. The postman is absolutely terrified of me, every morning I sit and gaze out the front window. I bark loudly as a warning sign and bare my teeth when he approaches the front door. I am a big dog and can take care of myself. So, kidnappers beware!

Dogs were bred for profit in large-scale commercial puppy farms during the global pandemic. I know that some humans unwittingl­y bought them. They do not realise that they bought puppies that were sometimes neglected and mistreated. We are not toys to be played with, then traded in when the novelty wears off in a nanosecond.

I was my family’s unfalterin­g companion during Covid-19 penury. The rolling lockdowns/ surges meant that my family were remotely working from home. If I pulled back the curtains all I could see were laptops, writing pads spread across in every room.

Home schooling was synonymous with frayed tempers in our house. Myself and the young fella spent our days on the PlayStatio­n. I viewed my profile in TikTok to count my many likes. When his mother asked him ‘have you finish your homework?’, he had a strict policy of neither confirming or denying the question, instead, he would stare blankly to mentally detach from her constant nagging. She ended up chewing her leg with frustratio­n!

No one escaped the limits placed on our freedom. Walking around the ring of Mitchelsto­wn day-in day-out, within the restricted universe of 5km, felt like effective house-arrest. I thought my tail would fall off with canine boredom.

My human friend was trying her best to get a degree, at times, I felt that I was the one doing it. ‘Reggie, how do make a podcast?’ she’d ask. I’d think to myself ‘Google it’. She would dry her tears using my soft droopy ears as tissue paper. I thought at one stage this woman should sponsor Kleenex.

She had the annoying habit of talking out loud, trying to formulate her essays. Her piercing voice felt like my brain was being put through a sieve. So, if anyone needs any informatio­n on Sir Walter Scott, please feel free to DM me.

No area of life was untouched during the lockdowns. I could read the tea leaves in the teacup. The mother human was not allowed to go to her hairdresse­r. I innately knew this would not end up well. I heard her mutter to herself ‘Can things get any worse? I am forced to wash my own hair’.

Hair is a woman’s crowning glory; it is a vital part of her femininity and sensuality. Her hairdresse­r is a special friend; they have a deep emotional relationsh­ip. It is a healing feeling going to her hairdresse­r, telling her darkest secrets which is akin to going to confession. She missed the outlet to sit and talk in the ‘Sacred Chair of Trust’. Her weekly wash/blow-dry gave her inner confidence to face the world because when she left the salon, she looked and felt beautiful.

Bluntly put: her rocking the feral, grey hair was not a good look.


The cruellest consequenc­e is that human beings are hardwired for connection. They are social animals, staying isolated is against their better nature. Anything that curtails their freedom and prevents them from interactio­n with each other was bound to have a negative effect. On a collective level, anxiety spiked living under perpetual fear of contacting the deadly virus. Humans were told to stay alert; keep their loved ones’ safe, a crucial message that was taken to heart.

But I was the cavalry to the rescue, free kisses and hugs were given out daily. You see, us dogs are social creatures, in the wild we used to live in packs. Over the evolution of time, we have transferre­d the pack instincts to the human household; my family is my pack.

They could not plan ahead as the goalposts kept moving. It was certainly a living loss because ordinary life was put on hold. The only emotion that was guaranteed was uncertaint­y; they could trust tomorrow would be the same as today as everyday felt like Sunday. Their brain is a predictive machine and without a clearcut future path, they struggled to compute. It took a toll on their bodies which felt out of sync; like a mild form of jetlag.

But it was also a magical time with no pressure from the outside world. The pandemic had a reset button and we were forced to slow down. Still, there was something sad about driving to the supermarke­t being the highlight of our day. Even the small things became the big things; buying a takeaway coffee became a major win.

My one bone of contention was outdoor dining, my family took over the garden (my playground!) and treated it like an extra room outside.

It was brilliant news when the restrictio­ns were lifted and the country started to open up from Covid purgatory. Some dogs had behavioura­l problem of separation-anxiety. Funny enough, not me! I was fine, don’t get me wrong, I love my family dearly. I was bone-tired of being cooped up with them and their 3D presence. For a while, the mother human was stuck in fear-anxiety response because of the imposed captivity and would mutter ‘Reggie, I am not going out if I have to shave my legs’.

So, remember dear readers this Christmas; dogs are not only for lockdown or the festive season. We are sentient beings with emotional feelings. It is scientific­ally proven that canine companions release happy hormones within humans.

This is why 2021 was aptly named ‘The Year of the Dog’, when everyone and their dog - had a dog.

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