When my husband first told me his work was getting slammed with puppy vaccinations a few months into the pandemic, I thought people were crazy to get another living, breathing being to take care of when there was already so much going on.
But then my phone kept vibrating with texts from him:
“Look at this little guy who came in to see us today.”
“Isn’t he cute?”
Isn’t he cute? Of course he was cute. His floppy ears and little nose just about made my heart flip. But so were the other dozen puppy pictures my husband sent to me. So much so, that I found myself searching shelters for puppies even though we had two dogs at home already. What would I do with another dog? Did I need another one? No. But did I still want one? Oh, absolutely.
So when my husband surprised me with a puppy to add to the chaos of two toddlers, two dogs, and one cat, I was in. Here are four ways my family has benefited from a pandemic puppy so far.
1. Entertainment and learning for our children
I’ve always loved training our animals and having a new puppy to train with my kids made it an entirely new and exciting adventure. Each day we take about a half-hour to practice new tricks, which not only keeps our puppy Oliver entertained, but helps our 3-year-old and 4-year-old work on valuable skills.
Training encouraged my children to speak clearly, to be patient as they wait for their turn, and to use their fine motor skills as they feed each of our dogs a treat.
2. Extra support through grief and isolation
I recently lost my father to a difficult battle with cancer and—while my husband and I had already discussed adding a corgi-pitbull pup to our family—a new dog was just what we needed at the time. Loss can be an isolating experience, but having a new four-legged friend to be there for me in the early days of grief definitely made it a little easier.
Research has shown that dogs not only offer unconditional love and support, but they can also help stave off isolation. According to studies, the comfort and support a canine can provide can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
3. Motivation to become more active
Introducing a new puppy into our family dynamic meant there was more motivation for our family to be active. We had thoroughly become couch potatoes after endless days of COVID isolation; we knew our new puppy would get us on our feet, whether for daily walks around the neighborhood or games of fetch in the house. Not to mention he was a great motivator to have my kids pick up their toys before bed (friendly reminder: puppies chew everything).
4. A sense of purpose amidst the chaos around us
Living during a pandemic has made life crazier than usual, but one of the most frustrating things about it for my family and me was that there weren’t many things that we could do to make the situation better.
After wearing our masks and maintaining social distancing, all that was left for us to do was to wait. But when we decided to get a puppy, it gave us a renewed sense of purpose because he encouraged us to be more engaged in our day-to-day lives, versus just waking up every day waiting to hear bad news.
And because Oliver was a rescue, it made us feel like we were making a difference. He’s also half pitbull (a breed that still gets a bad reputation) and because we had experience with our other pit-mix, we were comfortable and capable to give him the type of home he deserved.
Considering adding a fur baby to your family? Read this first: How to Prep Your Family for a Puppy