The pandemic and the resulting lockdown created an explosion of interest in adopting pets. For single people, pets are a source of comfort. For families, they’re a source of distraction.
Terra MacLean, a training coordinator with Second Chance Animal Rescue Society (SCARS) said, “We have definitely noticed an increase in adoptions. Although I’m sure some adoptions are to cope with loneliness, we have been finding most people are telling us they used to travel more with work or pleasure, and now due to Covid have the time to get a pet. Many of our adopters are now working part-time from home, or some have retired early so they have the ability to co-ordinate a pet into the home.”
Blakeman applied to become a foster parent for a basset hound rescue. When the couple met Carl, Blakeman said, “We thought he was pretty adorable and enthusiastic. I fell for him right away. He’s so bouncy and enthusiastic.”
Kevin Blakeman, age 40, moved to Canada in 2016 from England to work at BioWare, a popular gaming company. He and Victoria Stevens met in February 2018 and he moved in with Stevens and her beloved basset hound, R’lyeh, in September 2019.
In April 2020, Blakeman applied to become a foster parent for a basset hound rescue. When the couple met Carl, Blakeman said, “We thought he was pretty adorable and enthusiastic. I fell for him right away, but Victoria’s heart was still broken [after R’lyeh’s death]. He’s so bouncy and enthusiastic.” While Blakeman had never owned a dog before, he’d had a good experience with R’lyeh and wanted the same breed of dog.
Before Carl came to Blakeman, he had been rescued and housed with an older basset hound, but they didn’t get along. Blakeman and Stevens’ was his third home.
Blakeman said, “Even though he was a foster, we didn’t want to get rid of him.” He continued, “We couldn’t let Carl go. Once he’s calmer, Victoria can take him to the salon like she did with R’lyeh, two to three days a week.”
At the time of the interview, Blakeman thought Carl was turning two years old and believed he was well cared for despite being a foster dog. He said, “He is bell trained for a toilet break. He will go to the door and make whimpering sounds.”
Blakeman continued, “Basset hounds are generally food obsessed, which is why you often see them with a big belly. Carl is not. He picks at food and doesn’t exceed his daily intake. He’s interested in meeting other dogs. He gives it his all 100 per cent of the time.”
Like other people who bought, fostered, or adopted dogs during Covid, there were several reasons to get an animal. Blakeman said, “We took him in because he needed somewhere to be. I am working from home and Carl gives me a reason to exercise.”
Animals adopted during the pandemic had an advantage over animals adopted at other times—their people were home more often. This allowed for bonding and developing appropriate behaviours because animals got the attention they needed.
Blakeman says, “I have the potential to work from home so I make sure someone is home with him at all times. He’s alright in a crate although he barks and gets stressed.”
Terra says, “The other trend we are noticing is the huge need for rescue, we have intaken almost double the amount of animals as this time last year. We have noticed more people willing to take on a dog or cat with behavioural or training needs as well which is a real treat.”
For Kevin, the benefits are also obvious, “I’m not home alone all day. Sometimes he’s griping and wanting attention, but it breaks up the day when we walk at lunch. It gives me an excuse to not book meetings over lunch. It’s a chance to catch Pokemon as well.”
R’lyeh could only meander. Carl, we have to take to the dog park every couple of days because he has so much energy to burn. He likes to chase other dogs at the park.”