Dear Members,

In the three weeks since we were forced to cancel all of our WAGS visits and meetings due to the corona virus and Covid-19, our sense of who we are, what we do, who we serve, and where we can and cannot go has been altered in ways no one ever dreamed possible.

.........We are also hearing a host of conflicting information that has our heads spinning and our hearts pounding. We have no idea of how long this will last, how hard the Kentuckiana area will be hit, as well as the impact of this disease on all members of this great country. We can’t see many of our family members or friends and can only go out for essentials. We worry how many of our family members who regularly work in “non-essential” industries and cannot continue to work will be able to manage without a paycheck. We fear for the health of our family members who work in jobs deemed “essential.”

About a week and a half ago a number of WAGS Committee members began a check-in email system with others asking how the members of their teams or committees were doing and asking people to tell us stories of what they have been doing during this period. Many have responded with funny stories, accomplishing ambitious projects, as well as titles of movies they have seen or books they have read.

I personally have struggled with being at home alone with just my 10-month-old 90# puppy, Gabriel. The sense of isolation has been so great that the thought of trying to do something constructive as many others have accomplished is completely overwhelming. I am reading books on Kindle but to do so means that I need to put Gabriel in his crate because he not only has no concept of social distancing but he is the wiggliest Bernese Mountain Dog I have had in more than 15 years. Simply put, I can’t read if Gabriel is out.

An idea came to me. I know that I am not alone in what I am experiencing. I know that we have many members who live alone. We also have members who though they live with other family members, they aren’t used to so much togetherness and their family member is driving them bonkers. So, I would like to develop a WAGS Buddy Support System (WBSS). There will be a link at the bottom of this letter that will take you to a brief survey. The first two questions are to get an idea of how each member who responds is doing emotionally and what kind of support system they have in place. The answers to these two questions will be completely confidential and will not be shared with anyone. There is then a question about whether or not you would like to participate in a “zoom” or virtual membership meeting and our Secretary, Jewel Quackenbush, will be sending out an email with an explanation of how that would take place and instructions on how you can participate. Then there is a question that asks if you would like to participate in WBSS? Depending upon that answer you would be paired with another member and asked to contact the member by phone at least twice a week. The call needn’t take long but the fact that the members can HEAR another member will make and incredible difference in how they are feeling emotionally.

I believe that the giving we as WAGS members are so used to doing, needs to be turned inward at this time. We need to take care of each other and be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on until we can get back to doing our visiting or other WAGS activities. I believe we hold the power to lift each other up so we can all weather this crisis together. We want to be able to hit the ground running whenever the time comes when we are given the green light to go back out into the community and do WAGS visits. We want to ensure our members are emotionally strong enough to continue to work with their animals throughout this period when we can’t visit so that when they can they will be able to…their animal’s skills won’t become rusty, they will be able to pass their evaluations or Express Renewals without any hiccups. Because when the time does come that we can begin to visit again, our community is going to need WAGS more than ever before and we want and need to be the best we can be. Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R953CLZ

Please stay safe and healthy. Prayerful thoughts for all of you and your families.

Sincerely,

Patti Finley

WAGS President