The ‘pandemic pets’ of PhinneyWood
Pets featured above from left to right, top to bottom: Penny of Marianne W, Banjo of Shaylee V, Liv and Val of Victoria F, Taco of the F. Family, Rikka of Christa D and Mike M, and Luna of Adam D.
By Karla Rava
If it seems like you’ve noticed more pets walking around the neighborhood or you’ve seen them more frequently in windowsills or the background of Zoom calls, then your observations might be right!
Despite the domino effect of unforeseen calamities caused by COVID-19, one pleasant surprise is the boom in pet adoptions.
According to a 2020 poll of 1000 people conducted by Rover, one-third of people in the U.S. reported adopting a cat or dog during the pandemic.
Fifty-three percent of those adoptions were dogs, 32 percent cats, and 14 percent both. Sixty-four percent of new pets came from a rescue center, non-profit, or relative, and 26 percent came from a breeder.
In a January follow-up poll, Rover found that adoptions continued to rise, with dogs leading the pet pack at 49 percent.
But what about here in PhinneyWood? In April this year, the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) conducted a survey in the Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods to learn about the pet bonanza here at home.
The online survey called for local pet parents who acquired any type of new pet since the onset of COVID-19. Forty-one households responded.
The results revealed that they were motivated to get a new pet by one or more of these four reasons:
- 61 percent had more time for a pet because of being home during quarantine
- 34 percent got one for the kid(s)
- 22 percent sought companionship to help with social isolation
- 54 percent added a pet for other reasons, including getting another one after their pet had died or as a companion for an existing pet
Interestingly, the highest spike in adoptions occurred in the months of June 2020, September 2020, and March 2021.
The PNA survey also revealed that dogs are the most popular pets to adopt in PhinneyWood! Sixty-six percent of respondents adopted dogs, compared to cats at 27 percent. But rabbits, chickens, and rats also made the list!
The current trend on dog breeds can be summed up in one word—doodle—according to Carrie Schenken, owner of PhinneyWood’s Rub-a-Dub Dog self- and full-service dog grooming.
Carrie says, “Every time I turn around I learn about a new breed that is being mixed with a poodle—Bernadoodle, Aussiedoodle, Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, Sheepadoodle.”
As Carries explains, the benefit of the doodle mixes is that they are less likely to shed, but the downside is that they usually need full-service grooming to keep their hair from matting and to keep them clean.
Sara Shiflet, expert dog walker, and owner of Decadent Dog, adds the importance of physical activity and playtime for your new pooch.
Sara recommends (safely!) visiting dog-friendly establishments and trying out dog breed parties, like those held at Dog Yard Bar, a Ballard dog-friendly Bar that offers off-leash meet-ups, training, and even a bakery for the humans.
Debra Scheuerman, DVM, veterinarian, and owner of Phinney Ridge Animal Hospital, is concerned about new pets’ reactions when owners go back to work outside the home.
Dr. Scheuerman says, “The owner-pet bond is powerful both ways, so owners should expect separation anxiety behavior that may lead to destructiveness, hyper-vigilance, and inappropriate elimination behavior.”
Although there isn’t a simple solution, Dr. Scheuerman offers these five tips that may help:
- Make sure to spend quality time with pets when you’re home
- Have a neighbor or pet sitter drop in midday
- Provide audio recordings of your voice or find a TV channel your pet likes and leave it on
- Spritz happy pet pheromones on their beds or use in vaporizers. There are many brands readily available, though helpfulness may vary
- If none of these suggestions work, consider antianxiety medications. Never use human pharmaceuticals for pets: the safety and dose can be wildly different.
One thing is for sure, while people are at home, their pets are bringing a lot of joy and companionship.
In the comments section of the PNA survey, participants gushed over their new furtastic additions, describing how their pets’ funny, entertaining, playful, and downright adorable personalities have brought so much happiness into their lives.
And many parents of school-age children are reaping other benefits— Kyle F. shares the best thing about having new Coonhound/yellow lab mix dog Daisy is that “She keeps the kids entertained so we parents aren’t ‘on duty’ 24/7.”
Whether furry, hairy, scaly, or feathery, these so-called pandemic pets are lifting spirits in a big way during one of the most difficult times in recent history.
Airedoodle Cooper Kraut has even helped his human Emily N. find the silver lining: “He’s helping me see the good in the world again.”