Photo Credit: Sajal Mohsin, The Mike Photographer
The way pets have changed our lifestyle and outlook in COVID-19
Alessia Tenaglia, The Mike Staff Writer
The global pandemic has changed and still is changing many of our lives. We have downloaded apps out of boredom. We have felt isolated and disconnected regardless of how many social media accounts we had. There were days we had to shut off the news, deciding to focus our attention on something we could control. Most of us were given plenty of time and with this new and unexpected allocation of time, we discovered more about ourselves, others and life itself.
For pet-owners it was a chance to engage in a pet’s fantasy, one in which you would always stay at home and give a great deal of attention to them. A number of people found comfort in feathery, scaly and furry pets while in month-to-month lockdown periods. For animal-lovers that had not had the time before; the search for a new companion began, with a hope of gaining pure joy and filling in the long days with activities. As a result, the term ‘pandemic puppy’ became increasingly used to describe the overwhelming number of puppies bought and adopted in the pandemic to combat the effects of isolation.
The health benefits of owning a pet are numerous, ranging from lowering blood pressure to lowering stress levels, to alleviating depressive symptoms and anxiety, to improving heart health. According to a U.K. study conducted in September 2020, 87% of people claimed that their pets had helped them “cope emotionally” while in the pandemic. 73% of participants reported that their pets had kept them “fit and active.” The most surprising results were that 94% of individuals claimed that their pet had “positive effects” on their family and 95% reported they could not “imagine being without” their pets.
The reasoning for such positive results lies within the fact that caring for a pet is rewarding. Most animals do not expect anything in return but to simply be in your presence. A good day for them is being greeted and pet, sitting or lying down by your side, going for a walk and playing with their favourite toy. Your pet does not mind if you are not at your best. For this reason alone, it explains why people are turning to animals in the pandemic for a pure love that does not require much in return when compared to the expectations of human relationships. Not only do pet’s views on life alter our views of what is considered important to us, but pets alter our lifestyle as well, whether we are conscious of it or not. A pet influences a healthy change in lifestyle by increasing our exercise, providing companionship, increasing sociability as well as confidence. Above all, a pet requires a schedule and routine. Often it is too easy to feel uncommitted to online spaces, especially when there is limited real-time interaction. Pre-dog, I found that I was having a later start to the day than I intended, and I found it challenging to get up when some days felt like a repetitive ‘déjà vu’ experience. When I thought of the two big eyes and floppy ears that would expect my presence, I began to look forward to the day and what its possibilities may bring.
Although getting a new pet can be spontaneous and fun, pet ownership will have its challenges in its first few months and in the training stages. No pet is perfect, and no pet will be a model of perfection in a week alone. It is important to consider these things when purchasing or adopting pets solely out of isolation. Ensure that you plan for its interests not only now but in the future. This especially applies for when things return to normalcy. Whether you adopt or shop, all animals deserve a home and a loving owner. A pet’s presence brings many smiles and laughter amidst the chaos—it has kept us sane and tolerable of uncertainties. We must remember the way pets have been there for us in the pandemic and how we will give back to them once the pandemic is over.