Four-legged heroes

The last time I spoke to my friend Do, alias Dominique Dumas, who lives in Saint-Pamphile, things were going really well in Chaudière-Appalaches, while Montrealers were plagued by the pandemic. Still, she was super worried, as she runs a retirement home (RPA) housing a dozen seniors whom she protects like Ripley in. Aliens.

The virus did not enter his residence, but a dog did. His first. First to cheer up its residents who could not receive visitors during confinement. And for Madame Magella, who had not been able to say goodbye to hers by going straight from a stay in the hospital to Do’s residence, without returning home.

Do found a puppy that was born in February, but it was already promised to someone else. When the woman who offered it knew what Do wanted it to do, she flinched: “OK, it’s yours.” Kiwi, the Yorkshire Dachshund, has arrived. And he instantly became the star of RPA. “Kiwi has a special sensitivity,” Dominique tells me. He recognizes sad people. He walks into all the rooms, sometimes steals stuff from residents, sticks to those who need it most. “It’s a thousand percent zootherapy!” », Confirms Dominique, who had never had the opportunity to see this kind of magic at work.

He completely changed the atmosphere. It was total containment, everyone was in their room and there was only me and the dog with the residents. Now everyone is talking to each other. He gave the house some pep. I would even say that it takes me out of the work, because this dog really serves as a therapist. With Kiwi, the residents move more, they play with him, throw the ball to him. Kiwi is always there at the right time. And he also helps me by his presence to fill the void, to calm my anxieties.

Dominique Dumas, manager of a retirement home

It is also to boost the morale of her daughter Ophélie, 7, that journalist and host Claudia Larochelle wanted to adopt a cat. Ophélie, a very sociable girl, had a very bad experience of isolation and the closure of schools. To be honest, Claudia no longer recognized her daughter. She went in search of a kitten, with great difficulty, because the demand is enormous. Ophelia wanted a female baby. It was before she came across the photo of Bob, a 4-year-old cat, rescued by the Animal Rescue Network. Love at first sight was instantaneous.

“It was moving to see her become again smiling, cheerful,” explains Claudia. She came back to life before my eyes thanks to Bob. I cried about it in my mask when they met. I added Dylan to his first name in tribute to the singer chill who has something feline. ”

Claudia was a catwoman herself before having children, and we can say that Bob is the first family cat. Now, it’s Ophelia who has become crazy about cats, she reads all the books about them. And Bob appeared in the drawings of Ophelia and her little brother Lambert, 4, as a member of the family. “In the collective imagination, everyone wants a little kitty, and that’s what the children wanted, but that’s not what is most helpful in the end, and for the feline world and for the children. We help more by going to find an adult cat and it’s a lot less trouble. We really do not regret our choice. “

Animal, I chose you

“Saving a senior is really worth it,” believes Michel Dumais, who knows it well, because he has always lived with cats and dogs. “Honestly, in the future, that’s what we’re going to watch. They are so nice. The time they will be with you, give them happiness and they will give you some. ”

At the start of the pandemic, Michel lost his cat and his dog to overwhelming diseases a few months apart. There was no question of living in confinement without animal presence. He found it scandalous that people were taking the opportunity to sell kittens at exorbitant prices. Moreover, he says he is worried about the fate of the adopted animals in panic when people working from home return to the office.

Michel finally found himself with Mr. Tom, a 9-year-old golden retriever who was in a shelter in Shawinigan. As for her cat Charlie – named after Charlie hebdo -, it is one of his friends who found it, “a cat of a balcony tower”, he summarizes. Mr. Tom and Charlie get along very well and satisfy Michel and his wife. “It’s not only good for our morale, but for everyone around us. The neighborhood children love Mr. Tom, who gives them back. “

Writer Véronique Marcotte is a little embarrassed to say it, but 2020 has been a very good year for her so far. Just before the pandemic, she implemented her plan to move to the countryside with her partner in Frelighsburg. The timing perfect, what. She now had plenty of room to give love to animals, and also plenty of time, as her and her partner’s social life was put on hold.

The desire to have a dog that Véronique rejected because she had lived in an apartment before was only increased tenfold. In the meantime, a neighbor gave her two farm kittens, and it took her six months to find 3-year-old Venus, a mix of golden and husky. She only resisted four nights before allowing him to climb into bed. It’s now a household of five, as the pack sleeps together, so they had to buy a bigger bed.

The former owner of Venus was found dead at his home, the dog by his side. She arrived at Véronique’s home a little confused, but she quickly adapted. “This dog is a miracle,” believes Véronique, who wanted to save a shelter dog. “It’s very new to me, that connection with a beast. It is a responsibility towards a living being and it is very rewarding. It transformed the structure of my day. “

Last night, I spent an hour outside playing in the snow with Venus. Who do you think that feels good? Instead of drinking wine, I breathed in the fresh air, all alone with my dog.

Véronique Marcotte, writer

Mélissa Lebel’s story interested me because I saw her on Facebook looking after her cats, Chopin and Joséphine, really to the end. What we call, among animal lovers, “geriatrics”. The ones who have always been there in good times and bad. Those that everyone tells you to send to the cemetery, as soon as they have a problem, when they already have more than one. Mélissa would have had the impression of betraying the memory of her old cats if she had adopted others after their departure, but since she lives alone in Quebec, the confinement has shaken up her mourning.

“It was appalling,” she recalls. Work was suspended, I was going around in circles, I was just stressing out, not knowing what to do and being afraid to go out, because I’m a person at risk. I was really alone and all my gestures reminded me that I no longer had cats. ”

Her cousin, as “mother of cats” as she, titillated her with a photo of two shelter cats of about 1 year old, Léon and Zia, from the same litter. The condition was that they be adopted together, but Leon could not find a taker, because he was born one-eyed. “As I am deaf in one ear, I identified with Leon,” says Mélissa, who will take care of it until the end, I guarantee it. Leon and Zia couldn’t have been happier. Between survivors, we understand each other.

And at the end of the day, you don’t know which animal or human is the more saved of the two when the perfect “match” occurs.

Our furry angels

I don’t know what we would look like today if this glue pot named Angie hadn’t been around for the last few painful months. The funny thing is, I didn’t even want it when my mother wanted to give it to me after the death of Franz, my previous beloved dog. I found the Shih Tzu cheesy. But after hosting her for a weekend, she never left. My boyfriend shouted mother-daughter conspiracy, and now he’s the funniest. We were about six months before the planetary catastrophe.

When I wake up depressed in the morning and Paul Arcand is angry as soon as I turn on the radio, I burst out laughing because Angie is looking at me lovingly pissing, after we just spent the night sleeping in spoon. Unaware of the pandemic, but taking advantage of the situation cursed.

“Are you ever tired, Angie?” “

A dog loves you so much, no matter who you are, that is ridiculous. Because apart from your mother, no one loves you so much, and you know it.

The owner of the pet store where I have Angie groomed confirmed to me that he received about 40 calls a day from people looking for a cat or a dog since the start of the pandemic, when they were not sold there. almost no more animals. What he fears is a wave of dropouts when the waves of COVID-19 are over. Because there is a dark side to this craze, that the newspaper The Guardian, which documents the phenomenon of the “dog of misfortune”, described in an article. Black market, exploitation, and people ill-prepared for the responsibilities of owning a dog, the vacuum caused by COVID-19 can take a heavy toll in the animal world.

But I was deeply moved to hear people tell me about their animals in times of physical distancing. I can’t count the times they told me that without them they wouldn’t have held up. I think we should think about banning pets in apartments to avoid tenants having to choose between a roof and sometimes their only friend – which contributes enormously to dropouts every year – while tightening up adoption rules and being tough on profiteers who chain reproduction. We shouldn’t deprive anyone of this bond so strong that it can make you a vegetarian or actually help you through the first great pandemic of the century.

And you, how are your animals helping you during this strange time? I want to hear your stories, because on that, I’m like Angie, I never get tired of it.

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