I’ve been illustrating this “Self-Quarantine in Beijing” series for over a month now. This week’s episode is a bit different: I’ve asked my friend Violette Ranc to collaborate. We’re going to talk about pets.
We’ve been spending a lot of time with our dogs lately. Quarantine, which is now recommended in most countries affected by COVID-19, has been giving us a glimpse of what it feels like to be in our pets’ shoes (or paws). The news of people treating their pets as disposable objects really shook me. That’s why I felt compelled to ask Violette to work with me on this week’s episode.
Violette lived in Wuhan for four years and is now part of a company in Shanghai that provides pet care and pet relocation around the country. Together, we came up with an interview that we gave to three dog-owning households in Wuhan, currently still in lockdown.
Our intent with this project is to pay tribute to these special family members who are always here to make us smile and who have never, even for one moment, considered leaving us.
We thank Elli, Paul, and Lucas for participating and allowing us to dive into their routine.
Jack and Ziggy are two very cuddly Wuhan dogs. On Day 41 of the lockdown, their owner Elli, who is also a devoted animal rescuer, told us she could only go to the car park to walk her dogs. Her loving description of Ziggy is what inspired us for the following comic strip.
“Ziggy can run super fast for a little dog with short legs. When he runs and ‘jumps’ over things…his two front legs go out straight like a plane…It looks like Superman’s pose. It’s really funny.”
We asked Lucas to answer our questions from the perspective of his dog. Here’s what he…er, his dog, Jasper… came up with.
1. Do you have any brothers and sisters? What is your relationship with them?
My parents have a little monster that runs around pulling at my ears and dropping snacks for me. Her name is Mollie but I’m not sure if she’s my sister or my pet. Whatever. I love the little stinky thing.
2. How long have you been with your human? Are you grateful?
I’ve been living with these people for about 35 years, if my math is correct. I take great care of them. I play with them even when I’m feeling lazy and let them share my sofa.
3. Do you have a routine with your master? Has it changed recently?
The big beardy one seems to always be in the house these days. He used to wake up early and take me out but now we wait half the day before I get to go walk in 57 circles and find the perfect spot. It’s also been way too long since I got to go to a new park and search out something new and stinky to roll in, so I’m ready for a change of scenery.
4. If you had the choice between more food and less company or less food and more (of your master’s) company, which one would you choose? Why?
Did you say more food? Where is this food you speak of? I’ve been put on a diet because apparently I’m fat…So if you could produce the food you were speaking of, we can be friends.
5. Is quarantine fun to you?
Fun? What’s fun about it? I want to go chase butterflies and search for secret snacks, but here I am on the sofa again…
6. Has your owner been keener on teaching you new tricks or new words recently?
He makes me practice all the old ones, but with the little monster now. She is the key to my snack supply.
7. What is the most important lesson that you have taught your master?
If he lays down, I will join him. If he lays down a snack, it will join me.
8. How do you guys usually play?
I like to wrestle but only my papa is crazy enough to wrestle with me, as I play a little rough. Otherwise, I have a few stuffed animals that hide out somewhere. Those horrible monsters need to be chewed to save the world from their kind.
9. What is a funny thing you are 100% sure only you can do?
When I go to bed, I get myself under my blanket and roll around till my nose is thoroughly buried. I need help getting up in the morning but I sleep snug as a bug.
10. What do you repeatedly do even though your owner doesn’t like it?
I go to the kitchen to search for snacks even though I know I’m not supposed to. Diets suck.
11. Tell me more about your bad habits.
OK, but it’s embarrassing. I got my toes clipped once and the bastard went deep and it hurt. Never stood for it ever since. So, to stop them from clipping my toes, I chew my nails. They’re kinda delicious but that’s just an added bonus of avoiding the dreaded nail clippers.
In January, Paul thought he would see his wife just after her Spring Festival break. But their plans crumbled when Wuhan entered lockdown on January 23. Paul has since then been alone with their dog, Tǔdòu 土豆, and their white finch, Birdie.
Self-Quarantine in Beijing is a series of illustrations by Donal Turner. Previously: