News flash: 2020 sucked. But as with most sucky things, we should search for the lessons perhaps available. That moves me to the best dog on the planet (my column, my rules), our little Lola.  There is much to learn from our pets by watching how they handle what life dishes out.

As Covid shut us down, Lola’s world shrank too. With both her humans in the more vulnerable category, mom mostly stayed close to home while dad went to work most mornings (PHS/SPCA is an essential service, and there are things I can only do on site) and came home most afternoons (like so many, to a jury-rigged home office to remotely do what can be done from home). Lola lay claim to space near Carolyn’s various perches for the mornings (proving her miniature self fully capable of leaping tall bounds onto and off the couch as Carolyn grew bored with being her elevator), learned to anticipate with glee my earlier-than-normal return home, and found a reliably sunny spot on the carpet near my new desk where she is also reliably underfoot when I stand. The lesson: proximity to those you love is a comfort, even if it gets in the way of what they are trying to do. When the supply chain went scarce, our neighborhood grocery still managed a healthy stock of pet toys, one of which came home almost with every week’s worth of supplies. The lesson: if you are cute and entertaining with your toys, ask and ye shall receive more of them. (She also mastered rolling her balls under couch, knowing her people could use more exercise.) Days when we got some truly horrible news (we lost two friends), Lola was there and glad to be hugged. When the sky turned orange, Lola was there to be a sweet and silly distraction. When the doorbell rang, Lola said hi with excited woo-woos, knowing pizza may be in that box. And when walks to the park seemed safe, Lola gave it her all: playful, friendly, as happy as anyone (two- or four-legged) for the change of scene.

Lola’s lessons from 2020: love those you love and make sure they know it, play heartily, be helpful when possible, kind to everyone, and appreciate the good things that come your way.