Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident. File photo

Columnist Margaret Miller is a longtime Creston Valley resident. File photo

Valley Views: WAITING FOR OUR SHOTS

“I’ll happily roll up my sleeve. Medical history and events in my own lifetime show a well-tested vaccine can prevent the transmission of a dangerous virus.”

Valley Views is a column by Margaret Miller, a longtime Creston Valley resident

Three weeks ago, my husband and I took a big step. Some of our friends congratulated us via phone and texts. A few were a little envious. One teased us: “You’re brave! Hope that works out for the two of you.”

But we’d taken the big step and there was no turning back. Yes, at the end of February we became the owners of a six-kilo bundle of soft black fur, cuteness, sharp teeth and wriggly energy. We were dog owners again.

We are both dog people and for decades enjoyed the love, loyalty and companionship of three wonderful canines. We’ve been without a dog for a few years now, after losing our last loveable mutt a few weeks before she turned 17.

As others in the valley know, finding a healthy, young dog these days isn’t easy. Gone are the days of puppy giveaways, the boxes of “Free Puppies” outside the grocery store. Successful spaying and neutering programs have reduced unwanted litters. These days, getting a dog can involve questionnaires and references, waitlists, big costs or travel far from home.

When we were ready for another dog, we considered our options. Purebred or mixed breed? A Creston dog or one from outside the valley? An abandoned or rescued dog from PAWS, Creston’s animal shelter? We eventually decided on a young puppy that would grow into our outdoor lifestyle, one likely to respond to early training. We contacted a Kootenay breeder and were added to a waitlist.

Now, a few weeks after picking up our pup, things are going pretty well. Our home and daily routine have certainly changed. Toddler gates to limit the pup’s access to much of our home. A wire sleeping crate. Paper towels and a mop at the ready and regular trips outside for potty training. Lots of chew toys (a plastic bottle in an old sock and a small block of wood are her favourites!). Little walks on our property to check out the new smells, the trees, sticks, moss and pinecones. Puppy heaven.

Socializing a dog is important, so our new bundle of fun has met a few of our friends at socially distanced visits in the backyard. But, as vets and breeders know, it’s too early for contact with other dogs. Our young pup risks exposure to doggie diseases unless she’s fully vaccinated. She received her first round of shots at eight weeks, with two more rounds to come.

Like her two-legged owners, our new little pup is waiting for her shots. Parvovirus protection for her. COVID protection for us. We’re in this together.

British Columbia is rolling out phase two of its COVID-19 immunization plan. During this phase, approximately 400,000 people will be immunized, including seniors over 80, Indigenous peoples over 65, staff in community home support and nurses caring for seniors. I become eligible for my shot in phase three, so – if things roll along as planned – I’ll likely be vaccinated by summer.

I’ll happily roll up my sleeve. Medical history and events in my own lifetime show a well-tested vaccine can prevent the transmission of a dangerous virus. As a teenager, for example, I saw magazine photographs of patients confined to massive iron lungs, the result of lung paralysis from polio. Thankfully, the need for a treatment that confines most of the body to a coffin-like breathing machine has passed due to vaccinations. Medical science has taken big strides forward.

So, spring of 2021 is waiting time for all members of my household. Both the four-legged and the two-legged ones. Health and safety matter to us, both at home and in our wider community.

Meanwhile, as we wait for our shots, we’ll enjoy more time together. Time for training and play, for walks, cuddles and naps. And that’s not hard to handle.

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