Trying to navigate through the new norms of COVID-19 has been a difficult task for many people. Both isolation and quarantine have decreased people’s mental health. Being stuck at home with the same people all of the time and not being able to see friends or extended family has affected everyone.
“My dog is my right hand woman. My family and I have taken my dog on hikes during this time and spent a lot of time together as a family. On family movie nights, my dog watches the movies with us. And sometimes when I’m feeling stressed or alone, my dog comes to sit or lay with me. I find it very endearing when my dog comes to me and puts her head on my lap,” junior Becca Tammad said.
Many people have looked towards their pets during these times to bring them comfort. Junior Grace Bliesner takes time to walk her dog just so she can get out of the house. Whether pet owners are cuddling up to watch a movie, taking their dog for a walk, surviving online school with a pet by their sides, or teaching them new tricks, pets have been improving the loneliness and boredom of everyday life.
“Our dogs have provided some much needed companionship and love during this crazy year. Since we have to stay at home more, they have really gotten used to constant attention and love, and vise versa! Everywhere I go in my house I’m followed by three wagging tails,” math teacher Kayla Grahn said.
Many people have also taken the leap during this time to take on new pets. This has been a good way for people to have a distraction from COVID-19. It introduces a new companion in your life, along with having to care for something other than yourself. Bliesner says that her pets are a great form of distraction when she feels worried or anxious. Having and taking care of pets is a big responsibility, but definitely pays off.
“I have three female yellow labs. I actually ‘surprised’ my husband (he didn’t realize that my shopping that day included buying a puppy! Whoops!) with our third yellow lab on March 16, right after we got released from school from COVID. So he wasn’t too excited about it, but now she’s a great addition to the family,” Grahn said.
As students continue their daily routines, which include: waking up, doing online school, homework, and maybe a job, everyday seems to be the same. Online schooling has become something that a majority of students dislike. Not being able to see friends, make new relationships, or have any socialization becomes hard very fast.
“My dog usually sits next to me while I’m in class and it makes me really happy when she’s around. During break times in class, I pet my dog or get food for me and a treat for her,” Tammad said.
For other students, having their pet around during class makes their day brighter because of the laughter that goes along with it.
“Our cat likes to walk across my computer during school which is always fun, it’s just a good laugh when she messes around while I’m in class,” Bliesner said.
It is hard to see how much pets impact your life on a daily basis, but if you really take a second to remember all of the things they have done for you or helped you through, they are amazing. Dogs and cats are the most popular pets, but we can’t forget about guinea pigs, bunnies, goats, mice, fish, lizards, and so many more animals that affect our lives.
“I think pets offer a great friend, as well as a great distraction from things that may be weighing heavy on our minds and hearts. Not to mention, they provide love and perspective. Our dogs seem to always be happy we’re there, and feeling that affection is a great pick me up,” Grahn said.
People have looked to their pets for many years seeking comfort and companionship. There is no doubt that during this last year, pets have impacted our lives tremendously by giving a source of distraction or cuddling up beside you. Pets are a great way to feel comfort and to help deal with stress and anxiety.