Photo by Austin Vinner
During this crazy quarantine, pets have become a huge part of many people’s lives. Whether it is rekindling an old routine of walking your dog or welcoming a new animal into the family, pets influence many of our lives. It is important to remember that we influence our pet’s lives as well.
The concept of having a pet is something students of all ages can look forward to, and right now is the perfect time for every family to seriously consider getting an animal.
A 2020 article from The Guardian titled “How pets are helping us through the coronavirus crisis,” explains how the effects of pet ownership are well documented. The article highlights how having a pet can reduce loneliness and anxiety, as well as contribute to a daily structure.
Loneliness and anxiety has become a growing problem, especially since everyone is in quarantine. Mental illness is becoming a serious issue during this time of isolation and is more common than one may think. Taking steps to prevent days and weeks from blurring together can slow the deterioration of everyone’s mental health.
One way of preventing anxiety and loneliness is giving purpose to your actions. Having a daily schedule can help people rest easy at night, having felt that something was accomplished during that day. Pets, especially dogs, require training and daily walks, which lends itself well to having a daily schedule.
The same article from The Guardian also reported an increase in pet adoptions and fostering from animal shelters, with one shelter having rehomed 86 dogs and 69 cats in one week.
This amazing increase in adoptions, despite stay at home orders in many places around the nation, shows just how far people are willing to go to get a lifelong friend. For students, learning how to navigate an online curriculum is difficult, so having a daily schedule to manage may seem like a daunting task.
Many were holding on to hope that students would return to school before the end of the year, but now that MCPS has extended school closures until June, WCHS will remain closed until the next academic year. Managing this new way of learning is difficult and students may find themselves forgetting to go outside, while spending hours on end doing work without any real payoff.
These pitfalls are the exact reason adopting a pet during this national school closure has become so popular. Pets allow for an escape from the anxiety-ridden online world, where people can also focus on bringing their pets on walks or taking a break from the laundry list of schoolwork to relax with a new companion.
A New York Times article from 2020, entitled “How do animals provide comfort in your life?” expands on the idea of caring for a pet in order to reduce anxiety. One of the most notable points in the article is about how you can not control the world around you, but you can control the love you give to your animals.
This is especially true now, with students in MCPS being frustrated that stay at home orders have been lifted from almost all of Md except for Montgomery County. In essence, having a pet is just a way to take more control of your life. This is a way to make a commitment that will stay with you for a long time.
The New York Times article also expands the idea of what a pet is and gives examples of many Americans adopting chickens as pets and as a steady source of eggs. This is where the issue with adopting pets begins to develop. People are hearing about this fad of getting pets during the COVID-19 pandemic and adopting animals on the spot without much thought of the responsibilities being a pet owner requires.
Students are even convincing parents that they will take care of the pet since they have plenty of free time. The problem is that no one really knows what is going to happen to these animals after things return to normal. Students will once again have limited free time and the burden of caring for these animals might fall on parents, who may not necessarily have wanted a pet in the first place.
The article does a great job of highlighting how irresponsible some people are being when adopting animals. Many people bought chickens when eggs and chicken began to run low in the grocery store, but what some did not realize is that chickens do not lay eggs until they are five months old. This presents a problem since our lives are uncertain and constantly changing, so no one quite knows what life will be like five months from now.
The takeaway from all this is to do your research before you get a pet. While it may seem like you have a lot of time now, it is important to plan ahead for what life might return to in the future. With any luck, you will decide to make the educated decision to get a pet and this lifelong friend will benefit your life just as much as you benefit theirs.