Qmmunity: An Ode to Q Mascot Binky

This one goes out to the pets getting us by in difficult times

Binky rawkin' his Qmmunity pride
Binky rawkin' his Qmmunity pride (Photo by Beth Sullivan)

When I was in first grade, my family spent spring break in Lake Tahoe. It felt magical. Sledding, snowball fights, and snow forts were endlessly entertaining. At one point, my brother turned to our dad and exclaimed, “This is the best vacation ever!”

The trip, in reality, was a disaster. Because of an en route blizzard, we crawled in traffic late into the night. When we finally reached Lake Tahoe, it was too dark to make out addresses, so we drove around lost, searching for our cabin until one blind corner later, our minivan slid down an icy hill. We were okay, and the van got towed, but that storm raged on. My dad spent hours shoveling snow outside the cabin day in, day out.

It’s my brother’s proclamation I’m reminded of as I sit down to write this column and my dog, Binky, leaps onto the couch for what feels like the day’s hundredth snuggle. I’m convinced our pets are the only ones who got the good end of this outright awful deal we call our new normal. Gone are the weekdays of Binky left home all alone. Now, every day of social distancing means another day of more walks, more cuddles, more fetch. In Binky-landia, this is the best vacation ever.

My girlfriend and I like to joke our dog was the original social distancer. The boy’s got a case of what you could call, let’s say, “passionate” leash reactivity. Over time, his moms have grown into veritable masters of walk-time Frogger, criss-crossing streets and dodging down alleys at first sight of another dog. We’ve worked with a trainer to help him, but lately, Binky’s reactivity has flared.

“Look, bubba,” I remind him once the lunging subsides, “that dog probably just wants to be your friend. Your snarling ain’t helping.” Maybe it’s because there are more dogs out and about. Maybe he’s pinging off the near-constant anxiety humming through me these days. Who knows. (For the record, he didn’t return my request for comment.)

Still, it’s a reminder for me, too. I cope by withdrawing, and let me tell ya, in a time that mandates isolation – and stirs up an ungodly amount of panic – pushing family and friends away is Very Not Good. But I’m working on it, and in his own way so is Binky. These days, feeding him breakfast is the only thing that gets me out of bed some mornings. Sometimes him wiggling around on the rug is the first thing to make me laugh in days. Sometimes going on a walk together without him reacting feels like an enormous victory.

So here’s to you, Binky, for helping me get by. For being the bestest boy who gives a whole lotta love and gets me excited for tomorrow. For now – and always – that’ll do, Binky, that’ll do.

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