As cases of coronavirus skyrocket with undisciplined reopening and the country learns more about the devasting experiences of Black Americans, the immensity of both realities weighs heavily. It’s hard to respond effectively to either situation, at least as measured by observable improvement, much less to the cumulative sorrows of both. At the risk of being insensitive to those who are personally devastated by one or both situations, I admit that my comparatively minor losses of COVID and life are getting me down.

I’ve been feeling lethargic, sad, and finding it hard to concentrate. I miss the laughter and lightness of earlier times before circumstances on multiple fronts got so complicated. Absent any ready solutions, I grieve deeply the loss of physical connection with those I love. I’ve been dreaming about how I might feel better, but I didn’t really believe it would happen.

Until along comes a guy named Kevin, who is changing my life and outlook. He’s exactly what I’ve known I was needing: a strong, affirming, nurturing companion, this time in the form of a beagle-boxer-mix rescue dog. I had heard about Kevin for years and seen pictures, because he belonged to a good friend from another state who had gotten him from a rescue agency a few years ago. My friend’s circumstances had changed, and sadly, she needed a new home for Kevin. I quickly volunteered and the result is a huge blessing for both of us.

Kevin has a traumatic past as a breeding daddy at a puppy mill with horrible conditions. (Yes, someone pointed out how appropriate it is that I adopt a sex-worker dog.) He was rescued and gifted with gentle, nurturing rehabilitation and then years with a loving family.

“Diva” Kevin, as his mom calls him, lived up to his nickname by flying first class from a distant state, accompanied by an off-duty flight attendant who volunteers for the rescue agency that provided him to my friend and now is re-homing him to the Ferrees. He was brought from the airport by a rescue agency transport van and arrived with his carry-on suitcase filled with all his necessities and favorite things, each with a loving note from mom that explained the item. I wasn’t keen on Kevin’s people-name, but it’s his and he knows and responds to it, and he deserves to keep it. The longer he’s with me, the more it suits him.

Kevin is the calmest, most chill dog I’ve ever seen. He bonded with his GrandMarnie quickly, also loves his GrandDavid (he’ll be so good for my husband) and is settling into his new home easily. He’s taken his first trip to Bethesda Workshops, and he loved exploring the huge space. He liked the garden, and I can picture him sitting in the other rocker next to me in the evenings after a workshop (surely one day we’ll return to in-person gatherings) and sharing my soft jazz. It will feel so nice not to be out there alone.

Kevin already follows me wherever I go: room to room, out to the pool, or onto the patio where he sits with me to watch the moon or lies by the hot tub while I soak muscles sore from hiking. He loves to accompany me on walks, although the Middle Tennessee humidity soon takes its toll, and he plops down under the nearest shade tree or bush or bench and refuses to move until he’s good and ready. Yes, he sleeps in the bed with me, and I don’t mind how he hogs my side. He’s snuggly and attentive and responsive and adoring: exactly my kind of guy!

I know that the world feels plagued by so many intractable problems, and indeed, that is true. I also know that a guy like Kevin can’t change that big picture, but he’s changing my small corner of the world for the better, and I’m immensely grateful.

If your world also feels like too much sometimes, I suggest you identify the most nurturing, healthy distraction you can find and cling to it for dear life. Sometimes a little immediate gratification goes a long way.

Marnie C. Ferree