How pets are helping us get through the pandemic
'I lost my job last week due to COVID-19 and they have given me a lot of comfort'
The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought uncertainty and stress to just about everyone — people have lost their jobs, those who have kept them are often working from home or are on the front lines in harm's way. It can all seem pretty unreal.
But you know what's real? The dog whining at the door for a walk or the cat meowing to be fed. That's daily life that can't be put on hold or changed for any pandemic.
When I'm outdoors in the woods walking the girls, I can almost imagine that nothing has changed.— Roxanne Laughlin
CBC News asked via a Facebook callout how your pets have been helping you through these strange days.
Here's a sampling of your comments and photos.
(Please note that usernames are not necessarily the names of commenters. Some comments have been altered to correct spelling and to conform to CBC style.)
'I need those extra snuggles'
"Our goldens Maggie and Stanley are by my side daily as I had been working from home," posted Lisa Wilson-Snair, who lives in Moncton, N.B.
"I lost my job last week due to COVID-19 and they have given me a lot of comfort. They know I need those extra snuggles right now!"
Tracey Warren of Stratford, P.E.I., said her dog Harley "is serving to be a loving companion in the face of uncertainty and high anxiety. It improves my mood immensely to take him for daily walks and watch him tramp through muddy patches, and race through the grassy patches like nothing has changed.
"I love his distractions and how his 'normal' has not changed, which therefore helps me with mine."
Warren is self-employed as the owner of two largely-seasonal businesses.
"I have lost all work/income for this year unless by chance, things change a little by September/October," she said.
"My hens and roosters have been free ranging since we have been home all day," says Denise Pippy-Docherty of Hazelbrook, P.E.I.
"They come when I call them and have proven to be quite entertaining."
She said the family's dogs have also helped, "because I have to get outside and walk them every day regardless of how I am feeling."
Janine Gallant said the family's poodle-golden retriever mix Hunter has become even more important during the pandemic "in helping ease anxiety and bringing joy in our everyday. He seems to know when my girls are sad and will sometimes 'hug them.' He's helped me through anxiety and panic attacks in the past and recently too."
"Chewy (Chewbacca) has been giving us oodles of snuggles and reminding us of the important things in life — to love and care for each other," said Shannon Courtney of Charlottetown.
"He's also reminding us on a daily basis that it's important to feed him remnants of meat from our dinners."
Pigging out on fresh greens
"My pet loves fresh greens, so even if I have a week where I don't want to leave the house and don't care to grab fresh groceries, I would never hear the end of the squeaking from Gord," said Lindsey Elizabeth Ross of Charlottetown.
"He insists that I keep stocked up on fresh leafy greens, even when I'm ready to throw in the towel and live on Kraft Dinner."
Gord is a skinny pig, also known as a hairless guinea pig. Ross said they eat much more than guinea pigs but are smaller.
She did try to get food delivered to avoid going out, she said, but the greens weren't up to Gord's standards!
"It was mostly romaine hearts, his least favourite part," she said.
"Ocean is a herding animal. This is the greatest thing that's ever happened to him," posted Sheldon White of Charlottetown, along with a photo of the family's mini Australian shepherd.
"He has been trying to convince us since the start that we really should all just stay home all the time. He's very pleased with himself that we finally listened. I think we're helping him more than he's helping us."
"Guinness is my best friend," posted Mary A. Judson of Morell, P.E.I.
"He senses when I'm having a bad day with my anxiety, and stays by my side all day. He's my shadow. I'd be lost without him."
"Our animals have helped us maintain a sense of normalcy," said Roxanne Laughlin of Charlottetown.
"Whatever is going outside the home, Callie, Essie and Zelda still need food, bathroom breaks, walks, playtime, affection. Except for a couple little health issues that arose, they have helped keep me sane. When I'm outdoors in the woods walking the girls, I can almost imagine that nothing has changed."
Entrepreneur Barb Stegemann in Halifax showed several hilarious poses from her cat, Waldo.
"Waldo has never had so much company. We believe he now thinks he is human. He can get away with anything now like never before. And we don't mind. He comforts us," she wrote.
"Waldo poses in ways that make us gather and howl. He is ever the entertainer."
Misty-Lynn Tomkins Caseley said her parrot Chilli Bean, a green-cheeked conure, is enjoying the family being home more and has been more talkative.
"He mostly just says his name. He says my daughter's name, mumbles thanks and full sentences I can't understand. When he is happy he purrs like a cat and makes kissing sounds," she said.
Sangeetha Young works in health care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. Even though none of P.E.I.'s 27 now-recovered cases of COVID-19 have required hospitalization, it has still been a tumultuous time at the QEH as staff prepared for a possible wave of cases by reorganizing and practising skills they'd need.
"Getting outside for some activity always makes me feel better," said Young, posting a pic with her dog.