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JULIAN MONTAGUE

One question, answered: Can I let people pet my dog during the pandemic?

James Hamblin offers some advice for dog owners in his latest “Paging Dr. Hamblin” column (the dog he’s talking about here, Rooster, is mine):

If dogs were major players in the vector business, either via their respiratory secretions or fur, hopefully by now we would have traced clusters to them. We haven’t. Contaminated surfaces are proving to be less important than we initially assumed, and among them, soft surfaces such as fur are usually less likely than hard ones to harbor the virus.

All that said, this virus is still finding ways to surprise us, and it’s not inconceivable that animals exposed to it could show some subtle or long-term effects that haven’t yet revealed themselves. … Petting dogs does not seem to be a major public-health concern, but that doesn’t mean concerned individuals are being unreasonable. You’re under no obligation to indulge the dog-loving hordes, and neither is Rooster.

Read the rest. Every Wednesday, James takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. He’s also answered:

Have one? Email James at paging.dr.hamblin@theatlantic.com.

What to read if … you’re a politics wonk following the Republican National Convention:

Our White House correspondent Peter Nicholas weighs in: This is the convention Trump wants, not the one he needs.

What to read if … you want a break from the news:

Chill out with an antarctic tale: Penguins are nature’s best snugglers.


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