My dog doesn’t like me. I blame the coronavirus. Clare just had her heart broken because she was called home from her study abroad in New Zealand. We were supposed to pick her up at O’Hare a week and a half ago. Instead she was dumped off in Houston, Texas and told to figure it out from there. She rented a car and drove back to La Crosse by herself. 

Now she is quarantined for two weeks. She gets the tv room, one bathroom, and the basement. Manyu and I have the rest of the house. Jack, our dog, hasn’t figured out that we are a house divided. He wants to be with everyone – and because he has a bit of a herding instinct in him, he wants everyone to be together. Manyu worries that if Clare contracted the virus during her flight, Jack might pick it up on his fur. At first, she wanted to ban him from Clare’s side of the house. I insisted that Jack be available to comfort Clare even if we could not. The compromise was that I spray Jack with some watered down disinfectant every time he leaves Clare’s domain. He hates it. It might even be a reminder of when I spritzed him with water as a much younger dog. Jack was two years old when we got him from the Humane Society, and he came with a few habits that needed to be unlearned (e.g., scratching Manyu’s expensive Turkish rug, peeing on Manyu’s expensive Turkish rug; my recollection is that a lot of it had to do with that rug). 

Lately Jack’s been resigned to the ritual. He scratches on the door to be let out from the tv room, then stands there with his tail between his legs while I mist him down. Clare’s quarantine ends tomorrow. As with everyone else, this bizarre way of living is far from over for us, but at least I will get my daughter back. And Jack can relax.

Steven Simpson