We adopted a dog during the pandemic.
That’s right, we were one of the record numbers of Australians who consoled themselves during lockdown with a new furry friend.
We didn’t go into it lightly. We had lost our two very loved dogs to snakes in the space of a year and left it a while before giving in to the urge to have another happy buddy on the farm who welcomes you on your comings and goings and helps you feed the chooks.
We found Fletcher on the farm across the road. I had asked for photos and information first. I knew that once we clapped eyes on him, there was no way he was not coming home with us, whatever he looked like. Who can turn down a pup in need of a home?
And, of course, as soon as we saw him, we fell in love. He is a gentle, loving border collie-maremma cross with a habit of chasing kangaroos and cockatoos.
But, predictably, many adoptions did not work out so well. You couldn’t get a puppy for love or money during the pandemic. They were rarer than toilet rolls and pasta sauce put together.
A report from Animal Medicines Australia says 19 percent of all pet dogs across Australia were pandemic puppies.
With the lack of foresight typical of our species, we could not see beyond the time when we were isolated at home lavishing attention on our new family members and making all our human connections over Zoom. “Zoom bombs” by our animals became a regular thing.
Now, sadly, we are hearing increasing reports of dogs being surrendered to the RSPCA.
The stay-home honeymoon is over.
Big dogs, small dogs, and everything in between. They are being booted off Zoom, out of the house and packed off to find a new home.
There are all sorts of reasons this might happen. People might have to move to take on new jobs, dogs may not have ever had to stay at home by themselves and might not be coping, people might have taken on one dog too many.
Hardly any excuse is a good one. One thing we can all foresee is that we can’t predict the future so if you take on an animal, you have to be pretty damn close to sure that whatever happens, they can still be with you.
If you held off on adopting a pet during the pandemic but know the time is right, there are likely to be plenty looking for homes. They may not be purebreds or puppies or something with an “oodle” on the end, but they still need a good home.
Just make sure that all your happy endings include room for a dog.
Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah.