Learning to Adapt

What My Dogs Taught Me About Adapting During a Pandemic 

For those who know Noodle, you may have heard me say this in the past. She has taught me that adapting is the secret to life. Adapting has to occur because change is inevitable. Only now, this change isn’t felt in a small community or a family unit or a single person, but through our entire world. If there's anything constant with our world right now, it's the companionship we have with dogs – and that dogs will continue to teach us how to be better humans.

Noodle with her pink dog wheelchair on a rocky hike.
Photos Contributed by Ruffwear Ambassador Bree Corbin

During this pandemic, we have all been experiencing change. Change that we must adapt to – and who better to teach us than our dogs. Here are three lessons I’ve learned from my dogs during our quarantine.

Lesson 1: We all need a job

We’ve heard before that a dog needs a job. We’ve all tried to provide one to our pets. For our family, Noodle’s job is to chase Frisbees and Shamus’ has self-appointed his job as escort. He will escort anyone to any room doing any task. Without a job, dogs can get restless and this is proving true for us stuck at home.

Besides the obvious financial needs, our jobs also provide us with a sense of identity and a feeling of contributing to a bigger cause than just ourselves. A dog's job is not a nine-to-five. If we could adapt our definition of a job to what our pets are teaching us, then a job can be daily physical activity, reaching out to family/friends, donating blood, or supporting local hospitals. Finding a way to contribute to your family, community, or state does not require a specialized skill.

Noodle and Shamus in matching cedar green ruffwear jackets on a hike.

Lesson 2: Sit and stay

Memes galore on this topic already exist. How true is it, though? Our dogs are experts on waiting, sitting, and staying. Waiting for the OK to eat dinner, waiting for a daily walk, waiting for us to return home.

We are required right now to sit and stay at home. By doing this we are literally saving lives by doing nothing. Do nothing and you will save a life or more. That is not complicated, but not knowing when it will end may be.

We are told dogs have no sense of time passing. If we could adapt our mentality to match that of our pups even just for brief moments of the day, maybe we could feel less anxious about the amount of time we are needing to sit and stay.

Noodle in Float Coat trying to relax on a paddle board.

Lesson 3: Less self pity

This has been our number one lesson from Noodle since we met her. She is faced with physical adversity that matches what humans often experience. The difference is, she doesn’t realize her limitations. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She has no self-pity.

I could say this is easier said than done for us humans, but that would be terribly inaccurate. This is impossible for humans to do. We have self-awareness and some rather complicated emotions. This pandemic is creating loss, fear, anxiety, and stress for everyone.

While these feelings are needing to occur, I propose using those feelings to fuel empathy. For some will feel the impacts far worse than others from this pandemic. Adapt our fears, loss, and pity into empathy for all humans. It is a loss for all of us. 

This change to which we must adapt is literally knitted throughout the human race. Being experienced together. Let's adapt together.

Bree and her family on a hike.