The pandemic took away many aspects of normal life. But for some people it brought in a new aspect: one that may be four-legged and furry, too. In March of last year, the ASPCA saw nearly a 70% increase in animal fostering and adoption due to the pandemic. But while these pandemic puppies have provided new owners with love and support in difficult times, a new furry friend can be difficult in and of itself. Sutton Reekes has more on the story.
Meet Corduroy. He’s a 40-pound golden retriever with yellow fur and big brown eyes. Corduroy is my pandemic puppy. I always wanted my own dog and during the pandemic, I knew I was never going to be home more. So, Corduroy came home, and life hasn’t been the same, in the best way possible.
But that hasn’t been the case for everyone. Even in a pandemic, puppies are hard to take care of. For Kristen Gardiner, having her pandemic puppy Ginger brought more problems than peace of mind at first.
“I felt like I could never leave cause you just don’t know. How long is the puppy gonna nap? Do I have time to go take a shower? You know, if I go then what happens if something happens while I’m in the shower? Or whatever you just feel kind of on edge like what’s gonna happen next and, and then the feeling of like, how long is this going to go on this? You know, unexpected obligation, of being like 24 seven, like on-call.”
Gardiner says Ginger struggled with potty training and stealing food off the counters. And, that has been the case for others, too. Puppies are a lot of responsibility.
“Puppies are cute, but they get big.”
That’s Joe Labriola, the executive director of PAWS Atlanta.
“Don’t be surprised by that. And, I think a lot of folks are just not used to that, and the reality sets in and suddenly it’s, this isn’t what I signed up for. This is a commitment that you’re making for the life of this animal, I mean, it could be a 15 or 20 year commitment. And so it’s not something that you should enter into lightly.”
Gardiner said that even though she and her family walked through the pros and cons of having a new puppy. The challenges were overwhelming.
“I definitely could have been a lot more prepared. And there was, especially those first few weeks, probably the first month, I kind of was like, oh, I regret getting this dog. Like I really regret it. And, I knew I wasn’t going to give her back or anything.”
But over time, Gardiner and her family were able to work through the challenges with Ginger.
“It’s gotten a lot better. And my kids love her a lot. And we all feel like a little closer bond with her now that she’s a little older and a little more calm.”
Experts say that while we may be at home more in the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we necessarily have more time.
“I’d say at a minimum, it’s a 60 to 90 minute commitment every single day. And on top of that, you know, the feeding and just loving the animal, but you know that that that’s an investment in time that I don’t think anybody’s going to have any trouble with.”
But for some pandemic puppy owners like Miki Turner, even despite these challenges and time commitments, getting her dog Rosa saved her life.
“The joy that she is brought to my life. During this time, when I’ve not been able to go home and visit family, I have friends who live five minutes away I haven’t seen in a year, you know, is so significant. And I think it is kept me from sinking into some sort of, you know, low-grade depression.”
And despite the challenges, Gardiner says that getting Ginger was still a great decision.
“And, it’s just really cute seeing them, you know, experience new things and just be happy and loving. And, she’s just a great, great dog.”
“Whatever you invest in that animal, you’ll get back tenfold. It’ll be the best return on investment you’ll ever get.”
Having a pandemic puppy is hard. There are challenges and rewards. But either way, at the end of the day, there’s always a furry forever friend.