One day a friend sent me a text with a face of a little terrier dog and a play button.
"Oh gawd, not another pet video," I groaned to my husband one lazy Sunday morning in bed.
"Delete!" my husband said. I laughed with him. We are among the few Americans who don't own a pet and don't aspire to own one (we did have a beta fish for a while, though).
And yet, because the little white and ginger terrier with the black button nose and pleading eyes came with a "this is hilarious" disclaimer from my friend Mary Jane, who is not into precious pet stunts, and there was a background story of a dog that peed and pooed all over her house, I was curious.
I hit play. And in five seconds I was laughing and shrieking with delight. It was a dog speaking in a high pitched voice, apologizing to my friend for peeing and pooing all over her carpets. The voice was high pitched, it was pleading and sweet and killed me left right and center. "I love you," the terrier squeaked at the end. "Wiggle wiggle."
"I like the wiggle wiggle part," my husband said grinning. "Play it again?"
And I did. I played it again and again and again. During a lunch break, after dinner, once more in bed at night, holding it up so my husband could laugh along. I showed it to my visiting sister-in-law, Eileen, my nieces, some swim pals. I replayed it--literally--morning noon and night. Then it occurred to me to askMary Jane how her friend did it.
It's an app--MyTalkingPet.
I downloaded it. I used it. I sent texts and emails to friends with their pets talking to them.
The reactions from unsuspecting friends, going about their day, who receive a video of their dog or cat talking to them is giddy-fying. I sent Thank-you's, and Miss you's. Paul's one eyed-dog came to him saying he left his swim towel at our place. One friend posted photos of the orange cat Pumpkin she was house sitting, and in one comment I attached a video of the cat talking back to her.
I received a lot of "OMG!s and OMFG!s and shrieks of delight. So much fun.
A total retreat from a difficult day or moment.
One of the best ideas, which I haven't done yet, was Eileen's.
"Could you have Bo talk to my girls and tell them he's doing fine AND he's watching them?" Bo is their deceased family dog.
"Oh, an 'I'm-watching-you' from the Other Side kind of thing?" I asked. "Be nice to your mother?"
She nodded. We cracked up imagining it.
"'Kids, don't think I didn't see you when ___________' type of thing," I asked. We kept going with it.
Unfortunately she couldn't find a photo of Bo, but my love and respect for Eileen went way way up that day.
It's easy. You can download the app for free onto your phone, and it's easy to use.
I dare you, try your first one today.
And as I've proved, you don't have to be a pet owner to use it. You'll find yourself looking at passing animals as potential fodder. I've used it with one of those mechanical owls and a giant painting we have of a cat.
This month is dedicated to Feeling Better in a Troubled World: Simple ways you can catch a breath and remember a bit of beauty when the news is getting you down. If you want to talk more about feeling better in troubled times, email me for a conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org . There's no need to feel alone! XO