People Turning To Pets For Comfort During Coronavirus Pandemic

There’s a lot we don’t know about COVID-19, the mysterious virus that’s already infected 3,000 people in the U.S. and quickly spreading across the globe. But what we do know for sure – other than that we need to stop touching our faces and start washing our hands – is that coping with a pandemic is isolating and scary.

That’s why a growing number of people are turning to their dogs, who’ve long been known to help relieve stress and anxiety. To dogs, everything is business as usual – offering owners a welcome reprieve from the constant doom-and-gloom new stories. “My little Cavapoo doesn’t know about the coronavirus,” Brian Leighton recently wrote in a column titled, “Trying to cope with fears about coronavirus? Get a dog.”

“Our morning walks take my mind off the latest headlines and the news alerts that raise my blood pressure,” writes Leighton, the deputy managing editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, of time spent with his 9-month old puppy, Roxie.

“When she’s too tired to move, I pick her up. When I’m feeling down, she picks me up,” Leighton said of his relationship with Roxie, who has become a steady source of emotional support during these trying times. “Pets can help keep us sane while we try to find a way to slow this contagion,” the editor concludes.

But dogs aren’t the only pets helping their owners stay sane during this current pandemic. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a hilarious video starring his pet donkey and miniature pony, Whiskey and Lulu, in a hilarious video encouraging everybody to follow CDC advice and stay home. (An equally adorable tutorial on hand-washing stars Schwarzenegger’s rescued dog, Cherry.)

“No more restaurants, forget all that,” said the actor and former governor while feeding carrots to Whiskey and Lulu. “Public gatherings, restaurants, gymnasiums are out the window. We stay home. We don’t do anything like that anymore here. We just eat with Whiskey and with Lulu, we have a good time, we get entertained. So much more fun.” Although in self-isolation, Schwarzenegger and his animals appear to be having a really good time.

How are your dogs, cats, and/or other pets helping you cope with the anxiety surrounding COVID-19? Let us know in the comments!

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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