During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have been adopting pets. Though it’s nearly a tie, dogs seem to have beaten cats as most adopted animal during the last 19 months.
And I am definitely one of them – in fact, I’m a COVID-19 pet adopter twice over. As an equal opportunity adopter, I’ve brought both a cat and dog into my house during the last year.
In late fall 2020, my family welcomed a kitten into our chaos. At that time, we had an adult dog who had never lived with cats. Because of this, we were careful to make the transition as safe and comfortable as possible for two-legged and four-legged family members alike. Our strategy of providing space, treats, training, time, and support worked like a charm and the two animals quickly became snuggle buddies, with the cat making herself quite a cozy place in our family.
In late summer 2021, with the support of our vet, we made the difficult decision to say goodbye to our old girl, the canine matriarch, whose health had suddenly declined.
While we knew we would bring another dog into the fold eventually, we had no plan to do so any time soon. Of course, news of a perfect little pup in need of a good home came into our lives in mid-fall 2021. After careful consideration, weighing everything from the cat and children to an empty house during the work and school day, we decided we were a great fit for the energetic little ball of fluff.
I’ve had a number of conversations about COVID-19 pets over the last year and a bit, especially with the worry that my old dog wasn’t getting any younger. A big concern for me was what to do when I had to go back to working in the office, rather than working from home: I wanted to be careful not to shock a new dog with the sudden disappearance of her human “pack.” I am thankful for the privilege of my current work-from-home situation, and the flexibility to make this transition slowly.
Some of my considerations for this transition:
- Crate-training my furry friend to ensure I don’t come home to messes or chewed furniture and shoes. In this instance, I’ve been slowly introducing crate time with an appropriate chew toy (a Kong-type toy, stuffed with treats, food, peanut butter, or other tasty tidbits). I hope to make the crate a welcoming place that also helps stave off boredom.
- Coming home at lunch for a play and bathroom break for the hound. (And a cuddle for the cat!) This is certainly not feasible for everyone, depending on how long your breaks are, or how far your commute home is – I feel very lucky.
- Arranging a friend or hired dog-walker to come and check on pet(s) during the workday, to play or walk with them, and to give them a bathroom break. I’m lucky to have family close by who are also dealing with a new puppy. They’ve agreed to help so that our pup doesn’t have to be in his crate all day. This was a huge factor in my decision to adopt him.
- Exploring doggy daycare! If there’s no way to get home or have someone help out, many kennels offer daycare services. If it works for your budget and household, this is a great way to make sure your buddy isn’t in their crate or stuck inside your house all day. And an added benefit is socialization with other animals and humans.
- Providing lots of love, attention, and activity (walks, park trips, or backyard play) before and after work and school.
For me, the biggest deciding factor to having another dog in the house was my own mental and physical health. My old dog and I had a great walking routine that kept us active and got us outside enjoying the fresh air. I know the puppy won’t be able to go on long walks for some time, but it’s a joy to play with him in the yard and start training him.
Whatever you choose to do, and whatever critter you bring into your lives, I hope it’s a smooth transition for all involved. I also hope they bring all kinds of fuzzy, scaly, barking, purring love and joy into your family and home!
As a final note, I want to share one of the coolest COVID-19 pets to grace my life. A dear friend brought a bold jumping spider called Olivia into her home. Olivia became quite a Facebook star on my friend’s page – pictures of her were always shared buried in the comments of a story post, out of respect for people who weren’t comfortable with spiders. It was wonderful to see pictures of that little eight-legged creature thriving with her family, and it just goes to show that there’s a perfect pet for everyone!