Dog Days

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No movies. No concerts. No sporting events. No restaurants. No social gatherings. Limited workload. Now that I’ve cleared your schedule, can we talk now?”  God

The virus came from China, starting there towards the end of last year, and now it is just about everywhere. Unless it didn’t come from China. We all have to stay indoors as much as possible for another week, governor’s orders. The hair salon has been closed since the middle of March, schools closed, restaurants and bars, gyms, almost everything shut down.

It has been getting around fast. It’s the same as it was in the 14th century. Maybe everybody thinks nobody ever went anywhere back then, but lots of people moved around traveled sold their stuff. It’s always been global, since the first people walked out of Africa.

The plague started when Mongols attacked an Italian trading station in the Crimea. In 1346 contagion broke out among the Mongols and from them it got into the town. When winter broke, the Italians sailed away on their ships. The Black Death got on board and sailed with them.

It got to Sicily in October 1347. Early the next year it landed in Venice and Genoa and from there it moved inland. By summer it was in Tuscany, where more than half of the people in Florence died, and south into Rome. By the winter of that year one out of three of everybody in Italy died.

The Black Death was bubonic plague, a disease that rodents get when there are lots of them all in one place. It’s called a plague focus. People get it when black rats become infected. They’re called house rats, because they like to live close to people. When the plague kills off most of a rat colony, the fleas go looking for their next meal ticket. The freeloaders turn on people. When they bite you, it swells to form a bubo, most often in the groin, on the thigh, or in an armpit.

That’s the plague. A booboo as in bubonic. 80% of the time, if you’re bitten, you’re a goner.

Dogs get sick for lots of different reasons. They’re big on throwing up. Vomiting is often brought on by a sudden change in diet. Dogs feed off leftovers, scavenge, beg, and sometimes eat too much and too quickly. They gulp down things they shouldn’t, like socks and toys. Motion sickness makes them throw up, which can and will be a mess in your car.

Sometimes they get an infection, or get worms, or lick plants and random toxins laying around that are poisonous to them. They suffer, just like us, serious medical problems like kidney and liver disease and cancer.

Flea infestations range from meek and mild to severe itching and discomfort to inflamed skin problems and infections. Dogs can get anemia in extreme circumstances. Fleas can transmit tapeworms. No dog wants a tapeworm. They don’t get the plague, though.

There are three kinds of plague, bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic. Bubonic plague causes swollen lymph nodes. Dogs are resistant to the plague-causing bacteria. Fleas be damned!

They don’t get the new virus, either.

Dogs can catch some viruses, like the canine respiratory coronavirus, but the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, isn’t a health threat to dogs.

The World Health Organization says, “There is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. It is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently and thoroughly.”

Dog’s don’t contract 19 nor do they spread it.

The CDC says that “while this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person.” The CDC recommends that people traveling to China might want to avoid animals both live and dead, “but there is no reason to think that any animals or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this novel coronavirus.”

The Bubonic Plague was bad, but there are many viruses that can make us sick. They range widely in severity. Some people don’t even know they’re sick when they’re sick with something.  The first serious known illness caused by a coronavirus was the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in China. Everybody called it SARS. The next outbreak started in 2012 in Saudi Arabia with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Everybody called it MERS.

Last year Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a new strain causing severe illness They called it SARS-CoV-2. Everybody else called it COVID-19.

They might as well have called it “The Plague.”

Towards the end of last month 650,000 people had gotten the virus worldwide and more than 30,00 of them died. In the United States we got caught flatfooted and more people are sick here than anywhere else. Everybody knew it was coming, but the amateurs in the Executive Office laughed it off.

There are at least 175 countries and territories that have reported cases. Many have declared lockdowns or dramatically restricted travel or said stay six feet apart. This has left hundreds of millions of people under all kinds of different restrictions.

For God’s sake, the entire country of India can’t step outside for three weeks, not even for anything. They have to stay home 24/7. The cops ride around on scooters and beat you with a cane if they catch you out the door.

Some people are tossing their out pets out the door, their cats and dogs, because some people believe their pets can catch the virus. Then they think they will catch it from them. Some people are idiots, if not total assholes!

Sometimes dogs just can’t catch a break.

Missy Lamonaca, who works at Helping Hearts and Healing Tail Animal Rescue, said, “we’re starting to see people dumping their animals because they’re afraid they are going to get the coronavirus from their animals.”

Cats and dogs don’t get COVID-19!

“Thousands of samples have been done since that on dogs, cats and horses by Idexx Laboratories,” said Dr. Johanna Vena at Cambria Veterinary Care in Johnstown, near where my family’s family came from. “There have been no positives so no evidence that pets can contract the disease of Covid-19.”

Some people think there are no dogs in Heaven. I think all dogs go to Heaven, but only some people do.

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Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.

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