Hearing about the potential apocalypse this past weekend got our Hellpuppy Kora thinking seriously about what she would do if the unthinkable happened and we were no longer there to, you know, open the giant tub of kibble for her. And other tasks we perform. What follows was typed for her, as she has no real fingers to speak of.
An apocalypse has left you without your humans? At first you might think "Woo-hoo! Time to jump on the bed whenever I want and eat stuff off the kitchen counters!" But before you start rejoicing at the thought of a post-human world, ask yourself this: where will your kibble come from? Who will let you in when it's snowing outside? Realistically speaking, life without your humans might be rough. After all, they have thumbs.
If the problem happens to be zombies, your humans will probably be barricading themselves inside the house. (Make sure they remember the doggie door or cat flap.) Zombies can hear you, and use this information to call other zombies. It is imperative at this stage not to bark or whine, no matter how much you want to alert your humans, unless you actually see a zombie. If you see one, that may be the time to alert your humans because of the immediate danger. Do not let a zombie bite you under any circumstances, and do not try to bite one of them even in self-defense--it won't hurt them, and you might be poisoned or worse in the process. They might even smell like something that, under normal circumstances, you might want to wallow in. But trust me, that's a very bad idea. If your humans have an audiobook copy of The Zombie Survival Guide, listen in--there is a lot of information that could be applicable to you as well.
If the apocalypse is a religious one, you may or may not be left behind, depending on the beliefs of your humans. If they are taken up in a Rapture scenario, hopefully they've set up provisions for you with a nonbeliever to take care of you. If your humans are already nonbelievers, you're not in any danger of them leaving you right away.
If your humans are still around, hopefully they've included you in their disaster preparedness plans: when they're assembling an emergency kit for themselves, make sure they have an emergency kit for you as well. DO NOT let them see this quiz about survival in the home, however--you won't like what you see on the stats for how a pet in the house equals longer survival for humans...
In a more general sense, let's just go through a few things that you can do to help yourself in case the worst happens and you're on your own.
Do you have access to your food? Surely you know where it is kept, but if you had to, could you break into your kibble container? If you eat only wet food in hard-to-open cans, or if your kibble is somehow unreachable, can you get into a pantry instead? Watch how your humans access their food as well as yours to learn how to get to it. Inform yourself about what human foods are dangerous for you so you can avoid them. Only consider the refrigerator as a source of food early on-- no matter how temptingly rotten the perishables might smell--they can also make you sick, and there won't be a human around to take you to the vet for anti-puking medicine. The same applies to the trash--as tempting as it is, stay away! As far as water goes, check to see if your humans have an emergency stash of bottles somewhere that you could chew into after your own dish is empty. Or is there a sink you can get to and operate with a paw? If not, you may have to resort to a toilet bowl, which is not recommended except in a true emergency.
Can you leave the house by yourself? If you have a doggie door, you're in luck! If not, again watch your humans to see how they exit. If you won't be able to open a door by yourself (some of these door devices do indeed require thumbs), you will need help. Get to know the other dogs in your neighborhood--I know the neighborhood is not always filled with friendly dogs, but try to make friends with anyone who is willing. In the event of an emergency, they may be able to help you and vice-versa. On your neighborhood walks, pay attention to who lives mostly outside--these dogs may be able to help dogs living indoors to get out if needed. Keep up as many acquaintances as you can in your area with both indoor and outdoor dogs to strengthen your post-apocalyptic resources. Consider them your "Apocalypse Buddy," and make sure to cover their tail and they'll cover yours.
When your humans take you on a ride in the car, pay attention to the direction of where you're going. I know it's easy to get caught up in just enjoying the breeze while your head is out the window, but this can be a good time to learn your wider neighborhood. Are there a set of familiar smells every time you go to doggy day care, a play date, or the park? Keep a sniff out in particular for other sources of food in your area. Could you find your way on foot to these relatively close-by locations? Are there good places for shelter if your own home becomes compromised?
Feeling unsure about how to break into a pantry or out of the house? Dogshaming is an excellent resource for other dogs' exploits and to help brainstorm ideas to help yourself. This site is also a good cautionary tale. If, for example, it's not really the apocalypse and your humans have just gone to visit Aunt Mary for an afternoon--but you've decided to break into the kibble in a panic, you'll probably just get in trouble. Again, keep in contact with other dogs in your area to find out what's going on outside your own house-- this simple tip could be the difference between a banishment in shame to your crate for the day and helping yourself survive the apocalypse!