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If you are like I am, you are on overload from coronavirus news. Things we were told at the beginning of the pandemic may or may not be true. No matter the news, the availability of essential supplies, and the disruption of what we considered normal, we are all united by one thing: We are all waiting for bad news to turn into good news.

As you may know from previous columns, I believe in preparing for emergencies and disasters before they occur. This pandemic, though, has taught me some lessons.

I am reminded of something I have learned from companion animals and vacuum cleaners. Dusty Cat and Katey Dog have been in heaven for many years now, but they were the first ones who taught me the Vacuum Cleaner Principle.

They were terrified of vacuum cleaners. Whenever I approached the storage closet, they were on high alert. When I took the cleaner out of the closet, they ran. The problem is, they did not run into another room, nor did they run out of the path of the vacuum. They ran in front of it. In fact, they ran in front of it throughout the house. They were always ahead by several feet, but they could have just been so much better off if they had gone into another room or just veered away from the vacuum’s path.

Such has been portions of my emergency planning for my dog, cat, and birds. I had a good supply of food, but not the three-month supply that is recommended. I always had in the back of my mind that I could buy more before the hurricane or blizzard struck. After all, I would have several days warning.

I always stored just one step ahead of the supplies running out. Who could ever have guessed that a pandemic could lead to such shortages? My animals are very particular about the food they like, and I always expected the shelves to be full.

One step ahead is no longer acceptable in this world gone topsy-turvy. During a pandemic, we do not evacuate; we shelter in place. Some parts of the emergency preparedness remain the same; however, some do not.

We suggest that all human guardians/pet owners do the following so they do not have to just stay one step ahead:

1. Work to store at least a three month supply of food for each animal.

2. Keep all routine vaccinations up-to-date. Keep your dog’s required tags current. Know where the rabies certificates are kept.

3. Maintain a positive relationship with your veterinary clinic. Pet illnesses do not stop during a pandemic.

4. Have a plan in place just in case you have to be hospitalized. Make sure a trusted family member or friend will take care of your pets.

Eventually, the shelter in place quarantine will end. Here’s hoping the lessons learned do not!

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