By Alyana Santillana
The COVID-19 pandemic hit fast and hard. In a matter of days, the entire world left their ordinary routines for a mandated stay-at-home order. Months of confinement inevitably took their toll on the masses. As a result, people found emotional support and companionship in man’s best friends: pets.
Laura Wagner, of Prospect Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn, was fortunate enough to adopt a Jindo-terrier mix named Jake at the start of the pandemic. “It took until May until we actually got our dog. It was five weeks of applying for a dog and not getting one, and getting our hopes up,” Wagner said.
While the process of adopting her furry friend was long, the wait was well worth it. “Spending a lot of time with Jake probably helped us bond,” she said. “It provided a real structure for my physical life and that has really helped my mental health, as well as a structure of things to do, because he’s so cute and so fun to be around, so that was nice as well.”
As life slowly begins its return to normalcy, Wagner and her family are in the process of helping Jake adjust to a post-pandemic routine. One of the steps is getting Jake used to be-ing alone in her apartment. “We’re working with a trainer on this thing called guaranteed departures, where you leave for like 10 minutes and come back, in-creasing the amount of time each day so that the dog gets used to knowing that when you leave, you’ll be back,” she said.
While Jake has become a valued member of Wagner’s family, the same cannot be said for many pets who were returned to stores or shelters as people began returning to their normal lives. “We saw a big spike in animal sales, but not any of the animal products. … Animals were being surrendered because people just didn’t know how to care for them any-more. A lot of the animals were being abused,” said Cynthia Salazar, a guest experience specialist at a PetCo location in Texas. “When everything opened up, we started seeing a lot of surrenders as a lot of people were coming back to their jobs,” she added.
While the lockdown undeniably changed the course of our lives and habits, the same goes for the ones we turned to for support.