Nori Patnode, Certified Concierge Care Advisor
Now more than ever, many of us are feeling isolated and lonely due to our current circumstances. Due to COVID, everyone is also spending more time at home. Adopting a pet is not an easy decision and should not be taken lightly, but if you want to dedicate yourself to a new addition to your family and feel you would be a wonderful pet owner, maybe this is the time to adopt.
Animal shelters are always swamped with pets that need homes. There are many pet rescues that are also brimming with cute and cuddly pals that are looking for their forever home.
The news is making us more than aware that staying home and staying safe is creating other issues for our society. We are social beings, and it is not normal for us to be alone as much as we are being tasked with. When people are out in public, they are wearing masks and more noticeably, people are not making eye contact or speaking to each other. It is very odd and uncomfortable. Maybe it is because we cannot see others faces, so we cannot read expressions that indicate if others are approachable. It could be that people are afraid to be out of their homes and are in a hurry to get their business done and leave public places.
Just the other day I was speaking with a lovely gentleman who is in his nineties and lives at his own home. He mentioned that three months ago he adopted a dog and as I listened to him speak about her I could tell how much joy she has brought into his life and how important his dog has already become to him. He is thinking about moving to assisted living and the first thing he wanted to know is if he could bring his dog with him. I was happy to tell him, “Yes!”
All of us know that pets can have a calming effect on us, and they are great companions. In a recent survey by the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute, 74% of pet owners said having a pet improved their mental health.
Pet therapy is a type of therapy that involves guided interactions between humans and trained animals. I have seen these dogs in action at Skilled Nursing Facilities. At one facility I worked at, a volunteer would come in every week with three small well- groomed and dressed up poodles in a stroller to visit the residents. They caused quite the stir! What was most noticeable was the smiles on the residents faces. When they held the dogs they were engaged, calm, and happy.
Animal rescues and shelters have changed their rules and their way of doing business, just as we all have. Petfinder.com is a good resource to look for a companion from local dog rescues. They have a quiz you can take online to help you think about what type of pet is right for you. Each shelter has their own rules and changes to their processes because of COVID. For example, Sunny Sky’s rescue in Puyallup has started to allow visitors again but they must wear masks and observe social distancing. Applicants must be preapproved to have formal meet and greets with pets. Shelters have pivoted to applications and a screening process on-line. They only want serious applicants who will be appropriate pet owners to visit the pets.
Another option is pet fostering. This is a short-term commitment and may be more appropriate for your situation, particularly if you plan on being out of your home a lot again after this crisis passes. Many pet rescues do not have the space or the staff to care for their animals while they are waiting for adoption. You can free up a spot so the shelter can rescue another dog. You can help socialize the dog to people, kids, and other dogs to help them get adopted.
If adopting or fostering a pet is an option for you or your loved ones reach out to your local animal shelter.