I am a cat person. I am, however, increasingly appreciative of the many qualities that dogs bring to their human companions. In ‘Dogs’, Netflix’s new documentary series, we see six stories centered on how dogs and people change each other’s lives.
The first episode, ‘The Kid with the Dog’, focuses on service dogs who are trained to help children with disabilities. We meet Corrine, a girl who has life-threatening epilepsy, and Rory, the dog trained to alert others when she has seizures. This episode is a complex portrait of the burdens placed on families with special needs children. We see how Rory brings hope to this family as he takes on some of this burden.
The six stories in the series vary widely, from Japanese dog groomers at an American grooming competition to a refuge in Costa Rica that houses over a thousand abandoned dogs. Each episode shows the interdependence of people and dogs in different parts of the world. This documentary series is both touching and thought-provoking, for cat and dog people alike.
We’ve had two summers now with significant smoky air from west coast wildfires. We northwesterners look forward to and treasure our short, perfect summers, so it’s disheartening to have to stay inside during our precious warm weather. There are health impacts as well as significant environmental degradations from these increasingly frequent and intense fires, but we’re affected also on a personal level, as our brief summer slams to a close.
Local shop owner/herbalist, Karyn Schwartz wisely observed about our smoky skies on her Instagram feed:
Remember that your physical well being and your emotional well being are not two separate things…. [I]f you have been agitated or anxious or just overwhelmed with feelings – you are not alone. This is part of the sickness we are all enveloped in. The smoke is exacerbating struggles we already have, and making it impossible to ignore a lot of things we all wish were not true. Part of our collective medicine is to be kind and gentle with ourselves and each other.
A recent story on the CBC website focused on these personal impacts on our mental health. For many people, they feel isolated and depressed, having to stay inside during the one time of the year when we normally can savor warm sunny days, dine al fresco, swim, and enjoy long, light-filled evenings. For others more drastically and directly affected by wildfire, they struggle with loss of home and livelihood.
These long-term significant disruptions to one’s place in the world can have profound effects on your mental health. If your feelings of despondency don’t fade when the air improves, it’s a good idea to seek out mental health assistance.