Early in the pandemic, a lot of people started getting puppies and dogs, to the point where several humane societies emptied out. I am sure there are many who are still happily ensconced with their new owners, and some who have unfortunately been surrendered when the owners returned to their regular schedules and found themselves overwhelmed. That is still better, though, than to keep an animal and neglect it.
Countless articles have been written about this phenomenon. So many of these sudden pet owners had wanted a dog for years but felt unable to make the time to properly introduce it to their family and provide proper training. Many, I am sure, made that time when they had a slowdown of their regular work schedules, and have continued to provide the best of homes.
While so many people were being furloughed, veterinarians were working nonstop, not only taking care of new pets but also treating minor conditions that long-time pet owners suddenly noticed once they were spending a lot more time at home with their pets.
I do suspect that a lot of the appeal of adding pets to a household during the pandemic—that will continue. The pandemic has been such a stressor for so many, and the presence of an animal whose only goal is to love you…well, that will be a stress reducer in the future too. Once this pandemic is gone (or absorbed into our daily life, if that is the case), we will not suddenly stop having stressors in our lives.
I admit, I lied about animals only wanting to love you. They want treats too. And walks. And attention-seeking behavior at times when you are already preoccupied—well, that is part of the package. But they do have a habit of worming their way into our lives. Many is the person who merely tolerated the animal that another family member wanted, only to be sobbing uncontrollably when old age an infirmity catch up with that same animal. Many is the person who swears to never get another pet and then finds one within weeks.
Which is not to say life without animals is some vast wasteland. If you are not inclined to have them around, please stick to your guns about that. There is a lot of work involved, and good veterinary care is definitely no bargain these days. Sometimes we find ourselves seeking veterinary care that we never dreamed we would agree to. Did you know that there are veterinarians who perform acupuncture on pets? I can tell you from experience that it gave at least one of my former dogs some good relief from back pain. But acupuncture? For animals? Who knew?
This all leads to one conclusion: The pandemic has made us re-think a lot of things, and it is doubtful that things will return to the way they were before. The break some of us had in our schedules is likely to leave us more mindful of the directions we choose. Whether or not to add these critters to your own life is one more thing to be mindful about. Hopefully, whether you choose to live in a home with pets or without, you have settled on a plan that brings you joy.