A THERAPY DOG’S COVID-19 DILEMMA:
WHETHER TO TELL HIGH-RISK FRIENDS THE BAD NEWS - TRUMP’S RATINGS ARE RISING
I have this trick, for example, of grabbing a tennis ball, then tossing it up in the air and chasing it around the living room. Grab. Toss. Chase. Gets a big laugh every time.
But getting a chuckle out of my “client base” – I am a trained therapy dog – is increasingly difficult these days.
Even in normal times, it’s harder to cheer up The Grouchy One than The Nice One, although she’s no Pollyanna when it comes to what’s wrong with the world, politics and that sort of thing.
But with the coronavirus pandemic, my job is much harder.
The bad numbers keep rolling in, as I’m sure you’re aware. And they are really alarming.
No, not those numbers, the ones tracking the exponentially rising deaths and infections in New York City, which is just a few hours’ drive from our corner of paradise in Newport, R.I.
The statistics I’m worried about are survey results the Gallup poll has been dribbling out all week. In fact, I suspect Gallup is releasing them bit by bit because they are so distressing, so inexplicable, so hard on the stomach.
Here’s a summary of Gallup’s serial (killer) reports:
- Trump’s approval rating: Highest of his presidency at 49 percent.
- His handling of the coronavirus crisis: 60 percent approval.
- The country’s assessment of how news media is performing during the crisis: 55 percent disapprove; 44 percent approve; 1 percent, no opinion.
I know, you’re saying that as a blogger, whose writing is available to an international audience thanks to the Internet, that my primary responsibility is to get the news out quickly and accurately.
But these people are my friends, as well as my clients.
For heaven’s sake, don’t these poor Humans have enough on their minds without having to worry about whether the country is going stark raving mad?
Here’s another number I have to consider: The Nice One and The Grouchy One are 77.
It’s been years since they became eligible to join the AARP, granted that organization sets a low bar for membership, 50 years and up. But 77 (seventy-seven) is a big number. My Humans are no longer just senior citizens; they’re senior, senior, senior citizens.
That puts them at “high risk” of being victims most endangered by the novel coronavirus. By the way, what’s with this “novel” bit? Why do they call it that? I thought novels are things you make into movies.
My Humans have enough to consider without being burdened by the Gallup poll.
It’s not out of the question that one of these days we’ll be rushing to our local ICU, where our troubles will just be starting, thanks to Donald J-for-Jerk Trump, whose ineptness means there’s not enough medical equipment to keep old folks chugging.
I have these daydreams about my changing role in all of this. No longer a “sweet” dog, but now a wolf descendant, with a full set of teeth and claws on all four feet, I use my super sense of smell to find the supply room where the last ventilator is stored. Because I’m ready to do whatever it takes for these guys, and don't you think that I'm only the court jester around here.
But still, that Gallup information is going be hard for them to swallow.
Trump being rated 49 percent approval as president, and 60 percent on handling the virus business is beyond comprehension.
You would think that his behavior at his daily TV briefing/campaign-rallies are Exhibit A for launching emergency impeachment proceedings. Rambling, incoherent, bumbling, he lies every day, berates, brags and violates the very social-distancing standards he’s supposed to be promoting by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Doc Fauci, the vice president, surgeon general and his cast of sycophants.
As usual, you can argue that his behavior is brilliant Trump-craft, that there’s a method and plan. Maybe he is hoping that Pence, whom he appointed to “lead” the administration’s virus program, will become infected, since the Veep has a better COVID-19 performance rating: 61 percent compared to Trump’s 60. And of course, Trump can’t abide Fauci, who can speak in complete sentences.
But the fact that Trump is pushing to end the containment regimen and put America “back to work” is no laughing matter, unleashing a once unthinkable national debate about whether old people – nice and grouchy ones alike – are expendable in a trade-off between resuscitating the stock market or your grandma.
It’s discouraging that 60 percent of Americans might agree with Trump, while 55 percent are critical of a news media that's telling them just how dangerous Trump has become.
Granted, the Gallup numbers are confusing.
For example, if a majority of survey respondents disapprove of the media’s performance, Gallup also reports that people are paying attention to news about coronavirus: 66 percent are following news “very closely,” and another 27 “somewhat closely.”
Also, 51 percent expect the crisis to last months, while only 36 percent say it will take weeks to get back to normal, contrary to Trump’s Easter bunny fantasies of bringing an early halt to social distancing.
IN ANY CASE, you can see my dilemma.
The coronavirus is something Nice and Grouchy can handle – they’re keeping a respectful distance from fellow Humans, washing their hands, wiping down door knobs. I’m betting they’ll survive the COVID-19 crisis.
But if they learn that Trump may be on his way to a Second Term, I’m not so sure how that will hit their will to live.
So, I’ll probably skip the Gallup reports for now and dig up some Peter, Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio and Joni Mitchel records to spin on their high fidelity turntable, and maybe I’ll do that tennis ball routine in the living room.
Grab. Toss. Chase. That’ll get them smiling again.