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Lockdown With Pets: How Animals Are Helping Us Cope With Crisis

The joys and challenges of living in lockdown with a pet animal at home.

Updated
Hot Take
4 min read
For many, pets have become a symbol of strength in these trying times.
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For the slightly privileged, the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has meant embellishing your life with new routines. Roshita Thomas, a 26-year-old Mumbai-based graphic designer, has been arranging regular virtual dates between her dog, Amigo, and her friend who is currently living away from his family.

“I think it’s easier to spiral when you’re all by yourself. So I usually call him and place the phone near Amigo for a few minutes. Just watching Amigo play in front of the camera makes him happy,” she tells The Quint.

The correlation between pet ownership and improved mental health is a commonly accepted idea by this point. With weekly ‘pet therapy’ sessions becoming a routine exercise at certain workplaces and dog cafes opening up across cities, people are finally embracing the psychological benefits of such relationships.

Especially at a time like this, pets are proving to be absolute lifesavers for some. For Mumbai-based Aashish Mehrotra, his indie dog Lucifer has become a pillar of strength. He says, “It's a very volatile time for me to be only indoors without human interaction. My only solace is my time with Lucifer who makes sure I don't just sit in bed.”

Aashish and Lucifer during their play time on the terrace.
Aashish and Lucifer during their play time on the terrace.
(Photo Courtesy: Aashish Mehrotra)
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Both Thomas and Mehrotra have formed new routines where they’ve replaced their pets’ daily outdoor walks with some terrace time instead. However, not everyone has access to such facilities. 23-year-old student, Mithila Malaviya, has a family history of adopting animals. When she moved to Mumbai, she knew that the city’s infrastructure was not ideal for certain kinds of dogs. “We knew we had to get small dogs if we are living in a small apartment because every dog loves to run wild and free,” she tells The Quint. Naturally, staying indoors has been tough for her dogs, Koki and Dexter.

“Staying indoors is making them more aggressive because they think we’re punishing them.”
Mithila Malaviya, Student
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For Rajiv Bagchi, a senior journalist based out of Kolkata, this lockdown has posed an unexpected challenge. His seven-month-old beagle, Coco’s sessions with a professional dog trainer were abruptly cut short by the lockdown. “Her trainer is not being able to come because of the restrictions. So, we have to think of ways to keep her occupied at home. She has a lot of toys, but she gets bored easily, so we try and revise the things Koko’s trainer taught her,” he tells us.

Mithila Malaviya with her pet beagle, Koki.
Mithila Malaviya with her pet beagle, Koki.
(Photo Courtesy: Mithila Malaviya)

For some, the coronavirus lockdown has meant a drastic, but positive, change in environment. Karan Salunkhe, a 23-year-old cinematographer and editor, has had to temporarily move back to his parent’s house because of the 21-day lockdown where he is getting to spend time with their cat Luna. He tells us about how Luna’s presence has helped maintain a kind of buffer in the house, “After staying with my parents for a few days, things kind of get saturated and we start to get on each other's nerves. Having Luna around helps because she distracts all of us.”

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Personally, as someone with pets myself, I’ve been quite anxious about running out of my dogs’ food supplies since they’re not accustomed to homecooked food. Salunkhe too has similar concerns:

“Right before the lockdown, our local pet store told us that we may face difficulty in trying to procure Luna’s food as imports would temporarily come to a halt. The vet encouraged us to start feeding her home food. We’re in the transition phase right now.”
Karan Salunkhe, Freelance cinematographer and editor
Karan’s pet cat, Luna.
Karan’s pet cat, Luna.
(Photo Courtesy: Karan Salunkhe)

While it’s clear that having pets in these dire times is a blessing for humans, what about the animals? Could all this indoor time in a house that’s constantly occupied by people be overwhelming for them? Mumbai-based media professional, Sanjana Agarwal, has noticed that her cat, Sophie, often gets annoyed if she is accidentally woken up by noise in the house. Agarwal adds, “I've also noticed her seeking out private space when she's overwhelmed with human company.”

Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure, we’re all definitely coming out of this lockdown with a newfound appreciation for our animal friends.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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