Candace Croney holds her dog, Desi, in April 2019, in Indiana.
Olivia Hinerfeld’s dog Lincoln and Kate Hilts’ cat Potato have something in common: They both like to interrupt Zoom calls as their owners work from home.
Jealous of the attention that Hinerfeld is paying to her video conference call, Lincoln, a golden retriever, will fetch “the most disgusting” tennis ball he can find from his toy crate to drop into the lap of the Georgetown University Law School student.
For many dogs, this is life as it was meant to be: humans around 24/7, walks and treats on demand, sneaking onto beds at night without resistance.
Cats – many of whom, let’s be honest, were already socially distancing before humans knew what that was – are more affectionate than ever, some now even acting hungry for attention.
Ten months into quarantines and working from home because of the pandemic, household pets’ lives and relationships with humans have in many cases changed, and not always for the better.
With this month’s U.S. rollout of vaccinations offering hope for normalcy in 2021, long-term impacts aren’t known.
While estimates vary on how many pets there are in the United States, there’s general agreement that the majority of U.S. households have at least one pet, with dogs, and then cats, far outnumbering other pets such as birds and fish.
There also was a surge in pet adoptions this year as stay-at-home restrictions took effect.
For all those tens of millions of dogs and cats, it’s been an opportunity to teach humans a thing or two about themselves.
Croney has enjoyed watching how her long-hair cat Bernie and Havanese-mix dog Des play together. She finds herself getting “bookended” by the pair in bed at night.
In the Washington area, Emily Benavides, a U.S. Senate staffer, is learning her cat’s language.
Humito (Spanish for Smoky), the 3-year-old rescue cat she has had for much of his life, has different-sounding meows to communicate that he wants to eat, wants to nap or has knocked his toy under the refrigerator.
Devika Ranjan, a theater director in Chicago, wanted pandemic company and got a rescue cat she named Aloo during the summer. The formerly feral cat is believed to be around 3 and seems to be very comfortable with a slow-paced, high-attention pandemic life.
The pandemic hasn’t been positive for all pets, though, such as those with owners who are struggling financially.