Woman walks vulnerable dad's dog so she can wave to him in isolation

Heidi Scrimgeour with her dad's dog
Heidi’s dad has to limit his time outside as he had heart surgery in March and vulnerable to COVID-19 (Picture: Heidi Scrimgeour)

During lockdown, many of us are separated from our families, friends, colleagues and partners.

While some of us might be able to meet up in a few weeks, it may be many months before we can reunite with those who are in the vulnerable category and who are at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus , if they catch it.

But, thankfully, we are finding new ways to connect to those we love.

Heidi Scrimgeour, from County Antrim in Northern Ireland, lives with her husband and children, in the same town as her parents.

But despite the proximity, she isn’t allowed to see her folks, due to her dad’s recent heart surgery, which left him in a coma for two weeks.

‘My dad had heart surgery at the start of March and suffered life-threatening complications afterwards,’ says Heidi, who is a journalist.

‘The last time I was in the same room as my Dad was 12 March – he’d been in a coma, on a ventilator in intensive care for two weeks due to post-op complications and visiting was suspended the next day due to coronavirus , so we weren’t even able to reassure him in person when he started to recover.

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Tara the dog, when she was a puppy
Tara, when she was a pup (Picture: Heidi Scrimgeour)

‘Happily, they eventually got him off the ventilator and strong enough to go home from hospital three weeks ago and he’s now beginning the long road to recovery.

‘But I have yet to give him a hug or set foot inside his house.’

COVID-19 poses a very real and serious risk to her dad’s health – which means that he needs to limit the amount of time he spends outdoors, and so cannot walk his three-year-old dog, Tara.

So, every day, Heidi, who doesn’t consider herself a dog person, will make her way to her parents’ house and pick up Tara.

The routine has become a ‘lifeline’, she says.

Tara the dog lying on grass
‘I’m grateful that Tara gives me a reason to see my folks every day, even if I can’t yet give my Dad the welcome home hug he deserves’ (Picture: Heidi Scrimgeour)

Heidi adds: ‘We chat from a safe distance when I call at his front gate each day to collect the dog as my parents can’t walk her at the moment.

‘Tara has become a lifeline between us and despite not being a doggy person, I’ve fallen in love with this pooch.

‘Our walks not only helpsme feel connected to my dad and allow me time alone to process what happened with us nearly losing him, but it’s also helping to pass the time in lockdown.

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‘It has become a very therapeutic part of lockdown life for me – with three kids in quarantine I’m never alone, so I relish these walks.

‘I’m grateful that Tara gives me a reason to see my folks every day, even if I can’t yet give my dad the welcome home hug he deserves.’

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