Guerrilla dog-walking

Daniel Rivas Blanco (Intern)



As it may have happened to a good chunk of our readers, the COVID-19 pandemic (or more specifically, the measures that were put in place to contain it) has prevented me from going to my workplace at the Wolf Science Center (at least physically, data management cares not about quarantines!). So, instead of talking of the lovely canids we reared and house here at the WSC, allow me to share with you a couple stories about how my fellow countrymen in Spain were dealing with the first few days of the quarantine. Don't worry, they still do have plenty of canids... and some things that are definitely not canids...

As the disease struck Spain in a more intense manner than Austria, harsher measures to contain the virus had to be put in place. In short, stepping out of the house without a good reason (mainly going to the supermarket or the pharmacy, or working in a very narrow list of jobs) is strictly disallowed, and even allowed activities are strongly restricted (the amount of people inside the supermarket is heavily regulated, no passengers other than the driver are allowed to go in private cars, etc.) .

There is an exception, though. Taking the dog on a walk is allowed, as long as you uphold the other restrictions (i.e., maintaining social distancing, not straying too far off your dwelling place, etc.). Of course, the outdoorsy people of Spain quickly caught up with this, and lots of people saw in their furry friends an easy way to circumvent their house arrest. And just like that, dog-walking became one the Spaniards' favorite hobbies during this peculiar set of circumstances.

Some concerns did arise about the use of dogs as an excuse for going out, be it for the morality of the whole act or the wellbeing of the animals. As for the dogs themselves, I can only imagine that half of them actually enjoy their new job as "human walkers" and the other half would rather just stay inside and sleep away the whole quarantine. They're just like us!

But not everyone has a dog. That needn't be a problem though, you can walk someone else's dog. Some people shared their dog (with very little regard of this being a possible method of contagion), and some others even tried to make a quick buck out of it, making online "rent-a-dog" advertisements, with some websites and applications issuing restriction to this specific kind of ads. Some people took it a step even further: a man in Palencia was found unapologetically walking a plush dog. How or why did he think such an action would fly under the radar is honestly beyond my comprehension.

Of course dogs (real or otherwise) were not the only animals that were taken on long, meandering walks. A man in Girona took a tiny goat for a walk, and another one in Lanzarote did the same with a chicken. Actions such as this prove to represent a strange combination between human ingenuity, a severe lack of inhibition and concern for the gravity of the current situation, and a metric ton of pure, unadulterated recklessness.

Another special case was the man that went for a walk disguised as a dog and walking in all fours. At a point like this, this humble writer can't help but ponder whether an act such as this is truly a way to bypass the quarantine, if a some sort of statement about the restrictions was somehow being made, or if it just was plain old tomfoolery. I, myself, choose to believe the latter.

Anyway, in case our readers are wondering about it, yes, all of the above mentioned "special cases" were punished with a fine each. I obviously do not condone these actions, but I would be lying if I were to say they didn't provide a much needed source of amusement and levity in a gloomy situation such as this one.

You can find the sources for all of these wacky news below (it's all true, believe it or not!):

Whatever the case, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the trainer team (and the animal keeper, of course!)  for taking care of everything during this time of need. And to our loyal readers, please stay safe, wash your hands, don't panic, keep in touch with your loved ones (don't let the physical social distance become an emotional one!), and most of all: don't overwork your pets!