Did we love our pets more during lock down?
We relied on them and turned to them to be our anchors of sanity and strength. With 2022 around the corner, is pandemic 2020-21behind us? Not if one follows the science, the world has a long way to go before we reemerge. But to what? What is our ‘new normal” the truth is no now knows.
We may get back to life as we knew it. But do we want to ? Do we still want the 9-5, one month of vacation lifestyle? Do we want to clock in and out of a factory line work day?
Because if we’re honest about it – it did not work and will not work. Social distancing, and mask wearing, are here to stay. So are our silent 4 legged front line workers have probably saved more troubled souls than we can count.
Life as we (human beings) knew it was lived on our own terms. Time management meant the peripheral participants of our lives (our pets) hoped to find themselves a convenient time slot in our lives. They were scheduled into school, job, meetings, gym, holidays and the list goes on. And suddenly one day we stopped. All we had was time, with no where to go and essentially ‘nothing’ to do.. step in the pet owning boom and a life style change neither people nor governments knew how to handle.
Stay home, stay safe. Stay home, save lives. Our front-line workers desperately needed us to help them – a simple task at which global populations failed miserably.
Did we love more during the pandemic? Probably not – we just had the time to care, to observe and slow down.
Loving a person or pet and caring for them are two separate events. Anyone can claim “to love” but that claim holds little value if there is no care or compassion to accompany it.
Work from Home
The novelty quickly saw the “attractiveness” of pets as an addition to the family. It is not so much that we loved our pets more during lockdown- we loved their presence and companionship.
We know that we control them and there is no fear of abandonment. Humans do not fear pets abandoning them, pets on the other hand should fear human indifference.
Pets do not walk out on their humans. It is always other way around. True to form human beings turn to a crutch when needed, and discard it with no regard when they’re done.
Caring for your pet is when you
Pick up after them on a walk
and this is no where near an exhaustive list! Pets are not instantly “Instagrammable.” Easy quick fix pet care does not exist.
Why were fosters and shelters empty during lock down?
The world’s collective conscience moved to the safest, kindest space our minds know to be true. Pets- dogs, cats, reptiles, rabbits – exotic and ‘normal.’ More people cleared out animal shelters and fostered and adopted dogs than shelters and rescue groups had witnessed in decades.
The prospect of loneliness, or perceived loneness if your lockdown days were spent with family terrified us. The most ‘advanced species on the planet’ crave animals to alleviate our anxieties. They calm us down, make our hearts smile and heal us in ways we have still to comprehend.
From llamas to chickens and puppies, a household with a pet is often happier and calmer.
But we digress, back to the pandemic and our puppies. Did we love our pets more during the pandemic? Did we pay more attention to their needs and wants because we were concerned for their welfare or as a diversion? The pet industry globally is virtually unscathed. It’s suffered dents and bruises, but it does not need emergency services to come in and rescue it. Vets, pet supply stores and websites (large and small) have stayed in business. Some veterinarians reported they’ve ‘never been so busy’
What does it mean to love a pet?
Which brings us back to the question- did we love our pets more during lock down? What do we mean by love? You loved them just as much pre pandemic- caring for them, feeding, walking and taking care of all their needs. But it was part of the routine. So the minor limp in their gait may have gone un noticed pre pandemic. Not because you didn’t care, but there were so many chores to get down that walking the dog was one more thing to get off the list!
In the midst of pandemic lockdowns, you took on the role of feeder, cook, dog walker, groomer and pet sitter. You had the time to observe them, watch for little changes in behaviour. A cat which suddenly and inexplicably stops using the litter box is not being stubborn- it may be a sign of illness or injury. A dog whom shows little interest in a daily walk may be in pain from a developing condition such as arthritis or hip dysplasia.
What did lockdowns teach us about observation?
Locked down 24 x 7 with your animal, you had the time to be a better observer which translates to a better pet owner.
How much water a dog and cat drink are one of the greatest contributors to their health. Work from home brings you the opportunity to know if they are getting adequate hydration. Also the fun of howling dog orchestras during Zoom meetings – because who doesn’t love that!
Our pets have humanised us to people and situations which only a year ago were cold impersonal interactions.
How did lockdowns remind us to slow down?
The pandemic drew our attention to the treatment of all animals, and our plunder of the natural world. It begins with the cat and dog you live with. They remind us that no matter how smart our phones are or how many trips human beings make to the moon, a wagging tail and playing with our pet dogs and cats still fascinate and entertain us.
So, maybe we didn’t really love them more but saw them more. Saw the nuances in their behaviour. Learned to read body language and interpret some if not all. We learned non verbal communication and that simply being in the same room with another being is a comfort.
They taught us to love them more by letting us know they literally had our backs. In return, always take the time to observe your pets as if you are in lockdown.
Watch for all those little signs of a limp, a pause or a sigh. Not as a helicopter mom, but a quiet observer.
But if pandemic puppy love has made us better pet owners, let’s take that as a positive learning from a horrid year. Keep an eye on them to keep them healthy.