Pets help owners with quarantine loneliness

Luna%2C+Lindsey+Ginex%27s+pandemic+puppy

Luna, Lindsey Ginex’s pandemic puppy

Quarantine life sparked all sorts of lifestyle trends as people focused on improving their health last spring. “Pandemic puppies” became part of this wave of lifestyle changes, but while many of these “quick hacks” have been disproved, is there some truth to the benefits of adopting a dog in quarantine?

With the isolation that came with quarantine, people turned to man’s best friend for comfort. Dogs adopted or fostered during quarantine, commonly known as “pandemic puppies,” increased dramatically as shelters all over the country were empty within weeks of the shutdown. Even some celebrities participated, including Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.

While the other quarantine trends focused on physical health such as getting abs with YouTuber Chloe Ting, adopting a dog during quarantine improved mental health. According to cdc.gov, there has been a large increase in “mental health challenges related to COVID-19” since quarantine started. People struggled with depression and loneliness due to the sudden social isolation mandates, but pets kept people company.

Emily Engel, a junior at WHS, said, “Having a dog did help with the social isolation because I wasn’t able to see my friends for the first couple of months and it was helpful to spend time with him.”

Research shows numerous physical and mental health benefits of being near an animal. When owners were unable to interact with friends and family, they instead could enjoy the silent companionship of their pets.

“Petting an animal does have such a calming effect,” said Karen Clark, the volunteer manager at Creature Comfort Pet Therapy. “It was a very scary time, and having something in the house with you that you can kind of cuddle up with that’s warm and fuzzy and is making you feel better when you’re petting it definitely helps.”

People adopted dogs because they had the time, but may realize they cannot handle the responsibility once they return to their normal schedules.”

— cbs12.org

 

Many people also recalled how a dog helped get them out of the house. It was easy to stay inside all day while working or learning from home, but dogs forced their owners to go outdoors. 

This was the case for Lindsey Ginex, a physical education teacher at WHS, who said, “It gave us a reason to get outside. We had already been walking and riding bikes because, what else is there to do? It gave us something else to focus on. And then it gave my daughter somebody to go outside and play with.” 

But while “pandemic puppies” were beneficial during the pandemic, professionals have expressed concern over how pets, mainly dogs, will adapt as life returns to normal. “There’s actually a big concern about separation anxiety because the animals have gotten used to everyone being at home all day, every day…the dogs have been so accustomed to everyone being there all the time,” said Clark.

Puppies have been the main target of this concern. They’re not accustomed to other animals and people, so owners must now properly socialize their puppy to the outside world. In extreme cases, puppies may become aggressive or fearsome after quarantine ends. 

But this may not be the only problem that emerges when life returns to normal. According to cbs12.org, rescuers fear owners will return their pets once they go back to work. People adopted dogs because they had the time, but may realize they cannot handle the responsibility once they return to their normal schedules.

“People are lonely now because [their] schedules changed in such a way that they could work from home, so they had a lot of time to take care of their new pets,” said Katherine Uhle, Associate Veterinarian at Westfield Animal Hospital. “But obviously, this situation is not permanent. So just make sure you’re aware of the kind of commitment that’s involved there. It is basically a lifelong commitment.”

The effect of quarantine on pets should not be forgotten. As life eventually returns to normal, paying sufficient attention to pets is the least the owners can do to repay them for the comfort and joy their pets provided for them during quarantine.