A common theme I have seen come up time and time again in this new normal we have all found ourselves thrown into in recent times is the tremendous role our pets play in all of this . As most dogs have, my Roo has fully embraced this time of home learning and isolation. She loves having everyone home all day…every day. I can’t remember the last time she was home alone. She also loves her daily late afternoon car rides to collect Pokemon and her evening walks with the family to collect sticks. She has figured out when she needs to lay quietly napping on the chair beside me, as I move from one video call to another throughout the day, and I have figured out around what time the mail carrier comes each afternoon and to be very cognizant of having my mic muted at that time!
There are animals formally trained as “emotional support animals” across the world; animals that do very important work and positively impact the lives of many living with mental health issues and specific emotional needs. But as of late, it kind of feels like everyone’s pet has become a bit of an informal, unofficial “emotional support animal”. What would many of us do without our fur buddies who are there to offer love, comfort and companionship at every turn?
Over the last month or so, I have loved seeing and hearing about classroom video calls in which students’ dogs and cats couldn’t help but be a main focus of early interactions or interruptions in some cases 😉 . I loved seeing teachers post pictures of themselves on Seesaw or social media at home with their pet. These are great ways to continue to build relationships with our students and with each other, even when we are apart. When we share a little bit of ourselves, we maintain connections and enhance our sense of community.
Some of the most heartwarming initiatives or movements we have seen take off during our time at home have done exactly that; strengthened our sense of community. On our evening walks as a family, I continue to keep an eye out for bears and hearts in the window. I am inspired by the musicians that have taken to balconies to serenade neighbours on a daily basis, along with other artists that have found incredible, innovative ways to entertain others via online platforms and spread warmth and inspiration through their creativity when we need it most. Daily traditions like the cheering for health care workers at shift change started with one clapper somewhere and later turned into a worldwide phenomenon.
I hope it is some of these pieces we remember most when we reflect back on this period of time in the future. Let’s always remember the moments that brought us together as a community and the incredible strength of the collective human spirit that has surfaced in a way we have never known before.
So today I invite you to take part in a new initiative that does just that. It honours our animals that have brought us such joy during these challenging times. Those animals might include a dog, cat, rabbit, reptile, fish, bird, hamster or even a favourite stuffy! It also honours our teachers, students and families at home, doing their best to figure out this new “home learning” way of life and encourages them to have a little fun with it. Last of all, it honours reading and books. For me and I hope for many others, finding some quiet time to read has been a pleasant escape during this time at home.
So as we take part in home learning, please take a moment to… #pawsfortales.
Find a favourite book or tale and read to your favourite animal. Post a picture or brief video (being mindful of copyright) and post on Twitter or Instagram to the hashtag #pawsfortales.
Or teachers challenge your students to do the same and post on your classroom’s online learning platform.
As you take a moment to pause and read with your furry friends, be proud and share it with the rest of us!