Pandemic pets provide companionship in isolation

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Bryce Brown, junior in life science and gerontology, adopted Ozzy, a one-and-a-half-year-old bulldog mix, from a shelter to keep her company during the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Bryce Brown)

Lockdowns, quarantining and limited social interaction made the past year a lonely one for many. Without the opportunity to seek companionship in humans, some turned to the next best thing: animals.

Bryce Brown, junior in life science and gerontology, adopted Ozzy, a one-and-a-half-year-old bulldog mix, from a shelter to keep her company. After school closed, Brown moved back to her hometown for the lockdown and — knowing campus would have few in-person classes — Brown said she knew it was the perfect time to adopt.

“The main reason I got Ozzy was I knew I would still not have a ton of interaction coming back to Manhattan,” Brown said. “It’s been really good; he keeps me company and makes me go outside and keeps me active. He’s a very goofy dog so he entertains us all.”

Ozzy not only remedied Brown’s isolation, but he brings joy to her roommates as well, Brown said. Making his rounds to spend time with everyone, Ozzy helps manage loneliness and provides emotional support while receiving plenty of pats and love himself.

“I live with three other girls; they all appreciate having him here too,” Brown said. “He’s very snuggly and likes to check on everybody when they’re not happy.”

Just like other businesses, animal shelters adapted to the pandemic. Shelters require potential owners to make appointments to meet animals, but with a large number of people looking to find camaraderie in affectionate pets, Brown said it’s difficult to find an open slot and take time to decide.

“It was a little bit of a race to get in and meet the dogs,” Brown said. “There were two dogs before Ozzy I probably would have adopted, but other people got in before me. By the time you get to meet an animal, several people have already seen them before you.”

Even though the process of adopting the right dog was strenuous, Brown said the comfort of having a four-legged family member to count on was worth it.

“When I got to meet Ozzy, we had to wear masks and meet outside,” Brown said. “He couldn’t really run around. It was just me meeting him on a leash and that was good enough. Now he follows me around like a shadow.”

People still searching for a “pandemic pet” to cure their loneliness can find more information about pets up for adoption in this area on the Riley County Humane Society website.

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