Now More than Ever, Pet Ownership a Lifesaver

By Jennifer L. Warren

NEW WINDSOR – Sometimes plans change abruptly, but things end up working out perfectly.

Evelyn Torres had it figured out. She had thoroughly loved owning several dogs in the past, but learned they required attention, lots of it. When owners leave, dogs often endure separation anxiety. This was something Torres, with her more recent long commute and work schedule, along with hectic, personal lifestyle, realized would not be a good match with a furry companion.

“I wanted to put off owning another dog until I retired,” explained New Windsor resident Torres. “I really wanted to be able to have the time to give it all the attention it needs and deserves.”

Never would Torres have predicted that opportunity would surface a couple of months ago when her world, along with countless others,’ suddenly swerved 180 degrees. With the onset of Covid-19, came a list of restrictions: No more two hour round trip work commute. No local gym workouts. No leaving her home, aside from getting essentials and exercise at designated, safe times. Limited and distanced in-person time with family and friends was now her reality. And with it, staying at home was to become her new norm. Initially, the novel transition of making her home a manageable workplace and focusing on other “distanced” life tasks were so consuming, little time remained. However, once her new routine solidified, Torres noticed a distinct void that needed to be filled.

“I was feeling lonelier than ever, having no in person interaction,” recalled Torres, who has chiefly remained home-bound, only leaving for essential errands, during the crisis. “The attachment-physical warmth and connection- to another was missing, and I began to think: If I can’t get those things right now from friends, family, grandkids etc., I can get them from a dog.”

A dog lover at heart, Torres had not owned a canine for over 15 years; however, she did know what she liked. Having had owned a Boxer for many years in the past, she knew she wanted a similar breed for their small size, watchful nature and overall relatively low maintenance. Also a researcher at heart, Torres methodically approached the dog ownership process. First, she went on Facebook, located an assortment of specific breed groups, and decided upon a Boston Terrier. From there, she delved in further to the Internet, reading posts from the American Kennel Society as well as various veterinarians.

Although many people are opting to adopt or rescue animals from local shelters, Torres made the decision to go with a breeder. Regardless of where you get your animal, Torres advises,

“Ask as many questions as possible, and do your research, knowing this is a big investment in so many ways.” She added, “Also, make sure your animal has all the needed exams and shots and even take him or her to a veterinarian to be looked over as soon as possible once they are home with you.”

After several weeks, Torres confidently made her life-altering investment, naming her “Snooki.” Delivered from Ohio a couple of weeks ago, the now perky three week old Boston Terrier, regularly accompanies her owner on long walks, lovingly stares into her eyes, comfortably snuggles into her lap when she sits on the couch at the end of a long day and even brings Torres her empty bowl to be refilled when she deems necessary. Not only has the puppy’s life been positively transformed in countless ways, but so too has Torres.’

“Pets give you a routine, and a sense of responsibility outside of yourself, things many people need now more than ever,” said Torres. “Just looking at her soothes my fears, gets my mind onto someone else and keeps me occupied.”

As adoption and overall pet ownership rates spike throughout the Hudson Valley as well as the state and country in general, people, along with their furry housemates, are gaining priceless comfort, companionship and unconditional love during these uncertain and challenging times.

“Now is a really good time to spend quality time with your pet; you can really form that special bond, playing, walking or cuddling with them,” said Torres.

Attention is one thing pets are getting plenty of these days. However, experts are quick to cite the importance that during these Covid-19 times, they also learn to have alone time, away from their owners, developing critical skills of keeping themselves occupied and learning independence. Torres is already fitting that training into each day. While she works, Snooki entertains herself-napping or playing, and the two meet up in the evening for a walk and television cuddling time. When and if Torres is asked to return to the office, she has already secured a friend to check in on her new family member during the day, ensuring the young puppy will get necessary attention while separation anxiety is eased. For Torres, looking out for both the short and long term care of her pet is well worth it; the rewards are immeasurable.

“There are no words for the deep connection and attachment you can get from owning a pet,” said Torres, holding her three month old puppy as she fixated her gaze upon her. “You just feel the comfort they have with you and the amazing love they have for you and it makes such an incredible difference in your life.”