Life With Yuna – 1 Year 9 Month Update: San Jose, BLM, COVID-19, 2020 In General

June 3rd, 2020

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A dog sitting in front of the famous Sather Gate at UC Berkeley.

Table of Contents

Hello world. It’s been a while since our last update.

To all future readers of this blog post: we are currently still undergoing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the George Floyd incident has sparked racial tensions and mass protests in many US cities. We hope that you’re in a better place than where we are now.

And if you’re just now experiencing all of this with us, 2020 has indeed been a crazy year so far, with bad news piling on top of more bad news.

We thought we’d check in and publish this journal entry on where we’ve been, along with an overall reflection on current world events and 2020 in general.

West Coast Road Trip

Why don’t we kick things off with something positive?

If you’ve been following Yuna’s Instagram account, you’ll know that we were in San Jose, California for the majority of spring (psst, be sure to follow us for daily updates).

Back in early March, our employer, Amazon, sent out a company-wide policy suggesting that employees who could work from home, do so until the end of the month.

This was before various states had entered lockdown, and we decided to pack a month’s worth of supplies in our car, and venture down to California.

Instead of racing down I-5, I decided to take a scenic route down along highway 101 and CA-1. I wanted to admire the Pacific Ocean as I drove.

A dog peering out the window of a car.
Somewhere along CA-1, Admiring the views along the California coast.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I could make, because lockdowns were imposed in California the day after I arrived.

The road trip spanned four days as we cruised along the coast, stopping overnight in Portland, Bandon, and Fort Bragg before finally reaching San Jose.

Yuna got her fair share of fun on the trip. She zoomied on beaches like there was no tomorrow.

A dog zooming on the beach, looking wild and crazy.

We even got to stay right beside the Pacific Ocean at a wonderful little hotel called Sunset Oceanfront Lodging–definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

The beach was our front yard that morning. The weather wasn’t great, but we had the entire place to ourselves.

A wet yellow Lab on a beach on the Oregon coast.

Among other destinations, we made notable stops in Lincoln City, Yachats, Eureka, and Point Reyes.

Definitely an amazing and cathartic road trip to take before the impending doom that was about to hit.

Life In San Jose

In San Jose, my entire family of four was there: my dad, mom, and little brother.

In Yuna’s mind, this meant four times the amount of people to play with, and four times the amount of people to beg for food from!

In addition to having more space to run around, we also had a backyard, complete with occasional surprise visits from squirrels and cats that Yuna would bark at (Yuna barked?!).

And though our walks were confined pretty much to our small neighborhood, Yuna became intimately acquainted with all the flowers, bushes, and trees. She “conquered” all of them.

She was most definitely in heaven.

I myself noticed significant behavioral changes in Yuna, compared to when we were living in Seattle.

For one, she was a lot more alert and active in San Jose.

I sit in front of my computer most of the time at home, relatively disengaged from Yuna most of the time. But with all the extra people and activity in the house, Yuna felt the need to follow and keep tabs on everyone.

She even began actively seeking out her toys and bringing them to us–a behavior I had only rarely seen in her before.

A yellow Lab lying on her side with a hedgehog/porcupine toy sitting on her.

Yuna had always been a dog who seemed to “sync” with the environment.

If nothing much is happening, she’ll just settle and lay by herself. But if it’s poppin’, Yuna tends to feel the same vibes and get a little frisky herself.

It was nice to see that side of Yuna which I never got to see in Seattle. It also tells me that I need to disengage from the computer more, and be more active and engaging with her.

WFH Extended - Spring 2020 In San Jose

Though we had anticipated staying in San Jose until the end of March, our company’s WFH policy eventually extended until October 2nd–and so we were able to stay for a bit longer.

Despite all the chaos due to the virus, time passed by rather quickly in retrospect (even though in some moments it didn’t feel like it).

Yuna and I fell into a general routine. I’d take her on her morning walk. She’d have breakfast. My mom and dad would entice her with a snack in the afternoon. My dad would walk her in the evening. She’d get dinner. I’d take her out for a final potty, and she’d sleep comfortably (on my bed, not hers).

It was pretty much the same everyday, due to the lockdowns.

But despite the routine, we also had some pretty special experiences.

For one, we baked Yuna some homemade treats and even did an Easter Egg hunt with her.

A dog sniffs enthusiastically at a homemade bone-shaped dog treat in a bowl.

We taught Yuna some new tricks! Spin, play dead, and roll over are now part of her arsenal.

My brother had his (virtual) graduation from UC Berkeley, which is also my alma mater. We drove up for a visit and graduation pics.

A yellow Lab doing a sit pretty in front of the Campanile at UC Berkeley.

We also experienced a serious heat wave at the end of mid May, where temperatures reached up to 35C. It certainly didn’t help that the power went out a couple times as well (thanks a lot, PG&E).

Yuna also seemed to get allergies. There’s a lot more pollen down in my San Jose neighborhood, which gave me the sneezes too. Like hoodad like daughter I suppose.

Ultimately, we decided that by the end of May, it was time to return to Seattle. Many errands (like refreshing Yuna’s vaccines) needed to be taken care of.

We set out for a quick drive back on Saturday, May 30th, intending to arrive May 31st at night. At the time of this writing, we’re back in Seattle, safe. But it turned out to be a pretty risky weekend for a drive home.

#BlackLivesMatter

At this point, the world has seen the horrors of the George Floyd case, and the waves of protest that have reverberated through the United States. I won’t harp on the details again–there’s plenty of in-your-face coverage already.

To see, day by day, images of a major city like Seattle in turmoil is far beyond what I would’ve expected out of 2020. A quick scan of Twitter for Seattle area protests reveals downtown fires, looting, and violent standoffs between protestors and police.

I have never been one to join protests.

That, despite being a Berkeley alumni. I remember watching #BlackLivesMatter protests in Berkeley from the safety of dorms my freshman year, confused and unaware of race issues in the US. Having just returned from overseas, I was still warming up to domestic affairs.

Having now been here for 6 years, the recent events have only given deeper context to the story that was unfolding during my time back here.

It’s abundantly clear now that despite the promise of freedom and rights in the US, there are minority groups who don’t get to fully realize this promise.

What the officer did in the George Floyd case was wrong–this we have all unanimously agreed on.

Though I personally still won’t take to the streets and join the protests, I stand by the message protestors are trying to send.

I’m also proud to say I have taken action in alternative ways: by spreading information on our Instagram, and donating $100 to the Black Lives Matter organization. If you’re reading this, please consider doing the same here.

#BlackoutTuesday

Speaking of Instagram, on June 2nd, tons of users took to Instagram, posting black squares with the hashtag #blackouttuesday in support for the movement.

I logged in that morning, prepared to post a Lab Report for the day. I contemplated whether or not it would be a good idea, with many other major dog Instagrams already putting their personal content on hold in favor of #blackouttuesday.

Looking at my feed, about half the posts were already black squares.

At the time, I reasoned that there must have been ample awareness spread already–if you were on IG, you probably follow at least a few people who posted black squares. I also figured I could personally take an alternate route to show my support instead of posting the square.

I didn’t think that IG needed another black square from me. I thought posting one would mean much less than if I had actually taken action some other way.

Moreover, we had sat on this Lab Report on tips for female dogs in heat for a while now, and some people were itching for that content.

So, I decided to make the Lab Report post, and took to my stories instead to show solidarity in support for #blackouttuesday.

Throughout the day, more and more accounts began to post black squares. It got to the point where some people finally spoke up and denounced those posts, saying they actually prevent vital information from being spread on IG.

I resonated with this fully.

In a broader sense, I think that too often, people tend to latch onto trends and follow things for the sake of being accepted by their peers and society at large.

I don’t want to police what people post on their own pages. And this is not me pointing fingers saying that people necessarily posted the black squares out of peer pressure or as an opportunity to capitalize on a trend for likes, engagement, etc.

I truly believe that everybody did this out of their own will to do the right thing, and fight for a just cause.

But don’t forget that there are always other ways to take action and show your support. You could sign petitions, spread the right information, or make a donation, like we did.

As of this posting, many have taken down their posts to allow crucial #blacklivesmatter information to resurface in the hashtag.

COVID-19

And then there’s the pandemic.

I remember back in January 2020: I was in a layover in Hong Kong, on the way to Taiwan when I first heard of 6 strange cases of pneumonia reported by Chinese media in Wuhan.

Back then, nobody had any idea a global pandemic was cooking.

On our platforms, we have always taken the coronavirus very seriously. We suggested wearing masks when it was still condemned by the American public and even the CDC, citing quite ridiculously that masks were inconclusive in preventing spread of the virus (seriously?).

(Of course, we recognize the major concern at the time was supply for healthcare workers, but we didn’t think that meant members of the public should not try to obtain a face covering of some sort.)

Today, thankfully the CDC has retracted that statement in favor of common sense, and now recommends face coverings in public. But it was perhaps too late, and the virus had already broken out in the US.

While Washington state seems out of official lockdown as of this original post (the curfews due to the George Floyd protests are what seem to be keeping people indoors these days, rather than the virus), the pandemic is still alive and strong.

We fear that states are opening up too soon. Other parts of the world have very strict criteria for reopening–some officials in Hong Kong, for instance, mandate that there must be 28 days without a locally confirmed case before a full reopening can be instituted (4).

Compared to this, the US is still so far off.

All we can do is to continue to encourage healthy personal hygiene and wearing a mask, especially in public spaces. And to consider the consequences your actions can have on the healthcare system and doctors who are risking their lives to save ours.

We all hope for things to return to normal, but that would require the collective effort of all of us to overcome this pandemic together.

Conclusion

I hope I return to this post one day and it’s all history. Until then, 2020, you’ve really outdone yourself.

The silver lining out of all of this is our pets–they’ve been able to stay by our sides through the craziness and fill our lives with love, joy and purpose.

A dog examining a heart-shaped stone.

We will continue to publish helpful dog care tips to get you and your dog through these tough times.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for those daily updates!

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