You’ve Got a (Furry) Friend in Me

A dive into students’ pet stories over quarantine and how they’ve dealt with raising animals during COVID.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You spent all afternoon (well, not really, it was sort of a last-minute ditch effort) making a slideshow listing all the pros and cons of getting a dog or cat, only to later convince yourself that your parents’ recommendation to simply “get a fish—they’re much easier to take care of” is starting to sound better. If that description gave you unexpected flashbacks, then you’ll know the feeling of disappointment when your parents refuse to get you that pet you fought so hard for. However, with the rise of COVID-19, many parents have given in to these efforts to get a pet, to the bliss of their children. Meanwhile, other students have had to deal with problems arising from their existing pets.

Junior Jasmine Wang had to handle some conflicts with her pet parakeets during her time in quarantine. “A few years ago, I bought a pair of birds, and I thought they were both males, but one of them turned out to be female. They then started nesting, and then, they just laid eggs, and then the eggs hatched, and then all of a sudden I had six parakeets,” she began. Wang eventually gave away the two parent parakeets and ended up with only four of the six original birds.

However, a new unexpected issue arose with two of her four remaining parakeets. “One of my parakeets, Angel, is a female, and the other one, Pistachio Jr., is a male, and recently I noticed they’ve been kissing each other and feeding each other, grooming each other, and I was like: ‘They’re gonna have kids,’” Wang explained. She didn’t have the space or ability to raise more parakeets if the two eggs hatched, so she realized it would be better to give them away to another friend. “Right now, I’m looking forward to separating them and having to stop any more of that from happening,” she jokingly concluded. Wang ended up making a Facebook post asking if anyone was willing to adopt Angel and Pistachio Jr., writing, “Parakeets don't do well alone, which is why unless you already have a bird, I'd ask you to adopt two.” Luckily, the two parakeets ended up being adopted by someone and are thriving in their new home.

While Wang had to deal with problems arising from her existing pets, junior Christopher Liu added a new dog to his household over quarantine and has been learning how to raise him for the past few months. “His name is Hugo, and today was just his five-month birthday. He’s a labradoodle, but he’s three quarters Poodle and only one quarter Labrador, so he’s smaller,” Liu excitedly explained, adding, “He lost his first tooth yesterday, too!”

As far as taking care of Hugo given the circumstances of COVID-19, Liu described that it’s easier and more pleasant than it would have been normally. “It’s not too bad, and all in all, it’s actually kind of easier,” he admitted. “The vet and groomers are still open, so he got his shots and everything just fine.” Moreover, taking care of Hugo has also helped Liu cope with quarantine. “The only thing is that he likes to steal the masks and run around the apartment with them,” he jokingly recalled. Liu concluded that quarantine has allowed Hugo to live more freely, explaining, “Since everyone’s at home, it’s not like he’s spending hours in a crate while everyone else is at work or school during the day.”

Similar to Liu, sophomore Ella Chan added two puppies to her home in August. However, the reasoning behind it was very tragic and touching. “During quarantine, my grandmother passed away from cancer, and so we wanted to get the dogs for the family just to cheer us up,” she described. Chan went on to explain the process of actually getting her dogs, stating, “We originally only got one Australian Shepherd from a breeder up in Pennsylvania, and coincidentally, my dad’s boss also got a female Australian Shepherd for his girlfriend. She didn’t want it though, so then my dad’s boss gave it away to my dad for free.”

When asked to describe her two puppies, Chan enthusiastically began, “One of the dogs—his name is Whiskey—is a boy, and he’s black, white, and a tan color [...] He’s an Australian Shepherd, and we got him when he was eight weeks old.” She explained that Whiskey is very clumsy and often jumps off the couch and smacks into the coffee table. Chan then introduced Whiskey’s younger sibling, describing her as small yet aggressive, but nonetheless adorable. “The other one, her name is Brandy. She’s about a month younger than Whiskey, so she’s 12 weeks old.” Similar to Whiskey, Brandy is made up of “wacky colors,” which include gray, white, black, and tan.

However, Chan admitted that it’s hard to take care of her two young puppies, especially given the current circumstances. In contrast with Liu’s positive experience with Hugo, Chan finds that her puppies can be very hard to deal with, especially with the start of the school year and the continuation of quarantine. “The amount of times they poop all day in my room is scary,” she joked. “I recently threw out my carpet because of it.” She also mentioned the struggle of letting the puppies outside in the midst of quarantine. “Walking them is really hard too because I can’t really bring them to the park, and they’re a little too young, so we usually play in the backyard, but they don’t really know how to play,” she added, before eagerly beginning another adorable anecdote of the two.

The sentiment of these stories truly shows that in hard times, your pets, or simply others you care about, can help pull you up and stay afloat. For Liu, taking care of his dog helps him take a break from his work. “Walking Hugo is actually pretty nice because it’s an excuse to get out of the house,” he explained. Like Liu, many Stuyvesant students have been able to find mental and physical escape through their pets, both new and old.