For years, Terry would spend his days locked away in a metal cage for the morning and afternoon, just waiting for master to get home from the office.
Two weeks ago, however, that daily routine changed when the love of the cocker spaniel’s life simply quit going to work.
Since then, the 4-year-old dog says he’s never been happier, staying out for the majority of the day, taking water breaks as often as he likes, and spending hours in a darkened living room watching reruns of Sex and the City and former accountant and master of the house Lisa Polarek consume seemingly endless tubs of chocolate ice cream.
“I’m so glad she finally decided to stop leaving me every day, and just stay home and do fun things,” says Terry, who recalls one time before life became way better having to hold it for nearly 14 straight hours. “Yesterday though, she seemed pretty upset over something and spent like 67 o’clock-minutes just chopping vegetables, but I just kept asking and asking and asking and asking and asking and asking and asking and asking and asking to throw the ball, and she finally just tossed it across the room, and then I ran and got it, and it was awesome, and I was totally playing, and we had so much fun.”
Like Terry, thousands of dogs across metro Richmond have expressed similar feelings of joy in recent weeks, leaving their cages behind to spend more time with their masters – even if that means unknowingly consoling those masters through some of the darkest, most emotionally and physically draining periods of their lives.
“There were some really tough times there for a while, I won’t lie: It was a struggle having to go into my house every day knowing that it would be dark when I came out,” said Pathfinder, a whippet who lives in Shockoe Bottom.
Thankfully, for the 32-year-old in human years, those days are over.
Pathfinder can barely remember the last time he spent a full day in his cage, but remembers it being around the time of Friday, January 16. Coincidentally, the dog recalls, master and former information-technology specialist Keith Davidson came home that very same day with a pink-colored piece of paper in his hand and tears in his eyes.
“Keith has definitely needed some positive encouragement the past few weeks, which I absolutely, totally, totally, totally, totally, totally have been willing to do,” Pathfinder said, noting that both licking and pawing seem to help his 29-year-old master. “I’ve tried to tell him that ‘It’s going to be okay,’ but, as you can probably imagine, it just comes out as a mild bark.”
A recent poll by the Richmond SPCA of dogs with masters that have recently decided to stay home all day found that nearly 40 percent of the animals were “insanely happy,” while a similar amount were “extraordinarily fantastic.” The remaining 20 percent recorded happiness levels so high that the feelings cannot even be defined by modern science.
Yet while many dogs are experiencing more freedom than ever before – some even report not having to eat gross expensive dog food anymore in lieu of delicious leftover table scraps – not everything has changed, the SPCA poll noted.
Says Max, a brown lab from Chesterfield County: “The cat is still an asshole.”