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Gone to the Dogs – San Francisco Bay Times | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

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By Dr. Tim Seelig–

What did you do on your summer vacation?

Oh wait, that was not a summer and it wasn’t a vacation. It was a spring, summer, fall, winter, spring and it was shelter in place! It was absolutely nothing like a staycation.

Now that we are actually facing re-entry, what are your thoughts? How are you doing? Seriously, what did you do for a year+? What did you learn? What are you leaving behind from before? This process is like coming out again, but perhaps now with a sourdough starter and mad Zoom skills!

One of the most important decisions we have to make is what will we not want to bring back into our lives from pre-pandemic. It would be a mistake to simply go back to the way things were out of fear of change or reviving old habits that may not have served us well. A year ago, the universe said, “Go to your room and think about what you’ve done!” Now that our worldwide time out is ending, bit by bit, let’s hope we’ve learned the important lessons.

Much has been discussed about the COVID 19 lbs. many have added during a year of sitting around and being forced to cook and eat your own food. I didn’t actually add the dreaded 19 to my girth, but I did happily add 7 pounds of adorable, four-legged fur.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I’ve had a dog most of my years. There have only been a few short periods when I’ve been without canine companionship. I found myself in one of those in between times about half-way into the pandemic when Dan and Grace moved to Denver. Everyone I know was shocked as the months wore on and there was no movement on the dog front.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t cruising adopt-a-dog sites. I couldn’t help myself. We called my obsession with scrolling left “puppy porn.” This is not to be confused with the Folsom kind.

I dipped my toes in the doggie shallow end by fostering an adorable, tiny dog just before the holidays. He was amazing, but the time was not right. In fact, he was adopted by a friend of the chorus! I kept looking and then … boom. There he was on the Muttville website. I swooned and immediately began communicating with them. He was in a foster home.

But how do you adopt a dog during a pandemic? Well, of course, it started with a Zoom meet and greet with his foster family. It was hilarious. As much as they tried to engage him through the laptop screen, he was not interested.

Regardless, we found out all we needed to know. We were smitten. Ordinarily, you would then meet the foster family in a park for a distanced get to know you, and if it goes well, a hand off. On the big day, it was raining cats and dogs! Bobby and I drove to their house and the little package was literally handed to us through the car window. He immediately curled up on Bobby Jo’s lap and we were just done. He was ours.

They had named him Mashed Potato because of his coloration. Once we got him home, Bobby and I just felt no self-respecting gay men would have a dog named Mashed Potato. It’s nice, but no. After a few days with this adorable little package, we settled on Tater Tot! The best part of all? We are the same age—70!

During the process, it didn’t really dawn on me how much Tater Tot looked like Grace. Over Easter, Dan came to San Francisco for a visit and brought Grace. These two blondes could have been twins—almost. They got along great. A perfect pair. My granddaughter Clara loved having them both on her lap! Over Easter we celebrated with the family with 3 dogs, 5 cats, and a few fish.

Let me tell you a little more about Muttville.

Muttville pays for everything to get your dog in the best health possible. Tater Tot had bad teeth from having lived a pretty rough life. They paid for a full dental re-do. They removed 19 teeth, no tooth fairy. But he still has 16 left. I laughingly say we’ll be fitted for dentures together. He has a little heart murmur, so they did an echocardiogram. He has to take a couple of pills a day, fewer than his Dad!

Muttville’s mission is to give senior dogs a second chance at life. They rescue them, give them the care they need, find them loving homes, and spread the word about how WONDERFUL they are! It was founded in 2007 by Sherri Franklin, a longtime animal advocate and rescue worker. Since then, Muttville has grown into a nationally recognized organization that rescues approximately 1000 dogs a year. (And it finally, in 2012, moved out of her house!)

Muttville has been recognized for its groundbreaking approach to animal rescue. Their cage-free facility, their focus on foster, their on-site veterinary suite, and their hospice program are innovations that have been lauded and emulated around the country.

If you or anyone you know is looking for a companion, Muttville is the place. For more information or to see the irresistible seniors up for adoption, go to www.muttville.org

Now it’s time to figure out the rest of the “coming out” of the pandemic. The unwinding of the regulations is going to take much longer than imposing them a year ago. Patience is difficult. It never has been one of my spiritual gifts. But I will be patient, because it is so important to take care of each other and ourselves. Tater Tot is helping slow me down and smell the smells—his favorite thing to do!

What did I do during the pandemic? All the things you did, no doubt. But I got a dog—on Zoom!

Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Published on April 22, 2021

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