Alex Savas had dealt with her dog Miles’s behavioral issues before — socializing him when he was adopted four years ago, helping him adjust to cross-continent moves — but the small mixed-breed dog’s most recent challenge was, well, uniquely 2020. At the beginning of April, shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began encouraging Americans to wear masks, Miles began barking at people who wore them.

“I think it was hard to not be able to observe facial expressions, for him, on people that we came across,” says Savas, 29. “It was like, ‘What is this new creature I’m looking at here?’ ”

Dogs understand a few things very well: walks, how to get treats and belly rubs, what time they get fed, and whether they are a good boy or girl (they are, all of them). They do not understand a global pandemic. Quite frankly, that’s something even their owners have trouble comprehending.

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