How pets are helping us get through the pandemic

Looking after their furry charges is helping people to keep moving and stay entertained, they told CBC News.

'I lost my job last week due to COVID-19 and they have given me a lot of comfort'

Wendy Chappell's cat has been helping her and her husband work from home. He especially likes the computer mouse! (Submitted by Wendy Chappell)

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!"

'I lost my job last week due to COVID-19 and they have given me a lot of comfort,' says Lisa Wilson-Snair of her golden retrievers. (Submitted by Lisa Wilson-Snair)

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.

'Harley is serving to be a loving companion in the face of uncertainty and high anxiety,' says Tracey Warren. (Submitted by Tracey Warren)

"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."

Denise Pippy-Docherty's chickens know where their next meal is coming from, and will come when they are called. (Submitted by Denise Pippy-Docherty)

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."

Hunter is tuned in to the family's feelings, says Janine Gallant, offering comfort and even 'hugs' to family members when they're sad or anxious. (Submitted by Janine Gallant)

"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."

Shannon Courtney's kitty Chewy strikes a snuggly pose. (Submitted by Shannon Courtney)

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. 

Cuteness alert! Lindsey Ross's hairless guinea pig tells her when she has to go to the store to fetch him his favourite dinner of fresh greens. (Submitted by Lindsey Elizabeth Ross)

"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."

Ocean the mini Australian shepherd is excited to have his humans at home so he can herd them. (Submitted by Sheldon White)

"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."

Mary Judson says she'd be 'lost' without her shih tzu-terrier mix Guinness. (Submitted by Mary A Judson)

"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."

Roxanne Laughlin says her three family pets 'have helped us maintain a sense of normalcy.' This is 17-year-old Zelda. (Submitted by Roxanne Laughlin)

Where's Waldo?

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."

Rear view of Waldo the cat hanging out on the back of a chair at Barb Stegemann's. (Submitted by Barb Stegemann)

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. 

'My little boy is loving us being home all the time,' says Misty-Lynn Tomkins Caseley. (Submitted by Misty-Lynn Tomkins Caseley)

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.

'She keeps me moving!' Sangeetha Young posted with her pooch. (Submitted by Sangeetha Young)
'My beta fish Casper is very calming,' posted Gina Yeo, adding 'COVID has allowed me more time to write again.' (Submitted by Gina Yeo)
'Mickey has been patiently waiting for a grooming. He understands how much I miss my hairdresser,' posted Patricia McLean. (Submitted by Patricia McLean)
Tamara Palmer's golden retriever brother-and-sister duo Molly and Kain give her 'cuddles and following around so I never feel alone,' says the Tyne Valley, P.E.I., native. (Submitted by Tamara Palmer)

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a bachelor of journalism (honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email


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