On July 21st of this Covid year, we sent these questions to our iCalmPet email list. We asked for feedback on our iCalm Gift Downloads Program, which we started as a response to Covid, and their experiences of it in quarantine. We were curious what it was like for people to be with their pets (and vice versa) all the time!
How’s it felt to be in isolation with your animals?
Has it brought you closer? Farther?
What is most stressful?
How do you and your pet relieve stress?
Do you get on each other’s nerves?
How do you deal with it?
What is most comforting?
Would you like to share anything else related to Covid and pets?
We loved the responses we received – they were honest, emotional, and completely unguarded. It was not our original intention, but we were so moved by the replies––these beautiful and honest accounts of life in quarantine––we decided to piece together a story. A snapshot of human life in these unprecedented times.
iCalm Community Shares
My two dogs and I have been in lock down since March 12th. In some ways the dogs have been happy that I am home all the time. In other ways they wish I’d go out! I have learned that there are days when we need to just have the house quiet for several hours. We are fortunate to have a back yard so each day we spend several hours just enjoying the weather. I also do yoga in the den and go for walks by myself.
– Lisa with Bess & Cooper. Portland, OR.
Our coton du Tulear, age 2.5, has become our therapy dog! She brings so much joy into our lives, and walking her several times a day gets us outside (even in the heat) and enhances our physical health. Also, I bought an excellent book, “The Big Book of Tricks for the Best Dog Ever.” It has very clear instructions and photos. We are working our way through the book, and it is fun to see her enjoy the training and gain new skills. We train almost every day as part of the routine we have developed. We are retired and have a LOT of free time, as we are isolating here in Florida, where the infection rate is very high.
– Susan with Annie. Florida.
What is most stressful? Not stressful so much as disappointing for him has been somewhat reduced physical contact with other people, which my dog very much enjoys, during our daily walks. Most stressful for me has been the inability to be with him when he has to go to the vet — handing him over in the parking lot and then talking to the vet on the phone rather than being in the room. I understand the need for the new protocols, but I don’t like them. Fortunately for me, however, my dog does not mind going to the vet, and he’s perfectly comfortable with everybody there and probably doesn’t miss having me in the exam/treatment room.
What is most comforting? Just being able to spend time with my dog (he will be 11 years old next month) and to give him the loving, safe, comfortable, stable, social, and happy life he deserves (and didn’t have for his first two years of life).
– Pat with Bo. Connecticut.
We only have each other, with no other family members in the house. So we really rely on each other for comfort, companionship and physical contact. We are so glad to have each other to hug. We go for a couple of walks each day and are able to visit a few neighbors (from a distance), but no one else is allowed to touch Baxter, and he can’t even sniff his canine friends that we meet on our walks. We all have to just wave at each other from across the street and say how we are all looking forward to the time when we can actually get together again.
– Rudi & Baxter. San Jose, CA.
What is most stressful? All the changes. We are getting used to some of them, but I believe people are created as social beings and having masks, (needed I know!) and staying away from each other even though we can talk, we can’t hug or pat each other on the back or any other normal physical signals we give one another. Masks are more stressful for dogs and cats as they are unable to read our facial expressions. We have taken away a great many cues from them with masks.
– Susan, Tobie, and Cooper. Livermore, CA.
Lockdown has actually been a blessing in disguise in a way. Yes, there have been struggles, but it has allowed me to focus more time on training and playing with my dog.
– Ollie’s Human.
I live alone so my dogs have been a lifeline. We do walk most mornings and I attend an outside dog training class which also gives us things to work on during the week. Who knows when all of this will be behind us so I’m endeavoring to do the best everyday. Is it easy, well no, but this is the only day I have.
– Kathy and the Poodles. New Mexico.
After months of isolation, I value my animals even more. I live with another person, but find myself talking to my dog and three cats more than her. I observe their habits, their charming quirks as well as their skill at manipulating me! But I also am fearful about the future, as this pandemic has upset life as we know it. The virus is spreading fast in my location, with more hospitalizations and more deaths. My greatest fear is, if I should become incapacitated and/or die, who will care for my babies? Who would give them a home? Who would give them the affection and attention they know now?
– Harriet. Chattanooga, TN.
It has been wonderful. I’d be a wreck without my 2 dogs. I’m 3 kinds of high risk, so I’m home full time. It has definitely brought us closer together.
They get on my nerves when they need attention and I’m focusing on my computer. The best way to deal with it is to remember they know best, and it’s time for a break.
Most comforting? Sleeping with them curled up next to me.
Anything else? The best way to start the day is with a snuggle and stretch fest.
– Gayle with Merry & William.
Anonymous Feedback That Touched Us
Since Covid, both I and my husband take Kiko out for long walks (our exercise, too). So much togetherness may have become too much for Kiko. I’ve noticed she spends more time in the yard enjoying the sun, grass and occasional animals. She plays “keep away” if I try to entice her to come into the house.
How’s it felt to be in isolation with your animals? Having my pets required I keep some semblance of a routine, which I think was mentally and emotionally healthy for me. They also were a source of love and comfort.
Do you get on each other’s nerves? Maybe some times. It was probably more me just being stressed about all the change I was dealing with. I tried to keep it all in perspective and be in the moment rather than worry about things I can’t control. I didn’t always do it well.
What is most comforting? Having people and pets around me who love me. By around me, I also mean being able to call and FaceTime family and friends.
I was not able to work from home when this started in March, so my Ruby girl dog and I just sat around and listened to the micro SDs we already have. We loved being with each other 24/7. Then, in June I was ordered to go into the office so I could work, but my Ruby girl was not too happy about that. She was now used to me being home with her. So, since telecommuting will be around for a while with my company, I’ve just purchased my own computer, etc. so I can set up an office at home. I’m so looking forward to being with my Ruby girl every day again.
Having my pets with me during this crisis has been such a great source of comfort to me and no, we have not gotten on each others’ nerves at all. For me, the most stressful part of this is watching the world change before my eyes, and knowing that this crisis will have a lasting impact on the world as we know it. So many businesses will be closing, so many empty buildings will remain. Restaurants/businesses I’ve known and loved have been unable to survive, and the way of life we’ve all had is forever changed. I think it’s time for a dog hug now…
Being together 24/7 has been fun, frustrating, tiring at times. Eli (rescue YorkiePoo, just turned 9 years old last week) and I have had to figure it out as we went along. He was accustomed to having “alone” time every day, and suddenly that changed as it did for everyone.The most stressful thing is that now Eli thinks this is the norm, and when I leave he gets very upset. He is more clingy and “demanding”. The internal doggy clock is so accurate, and if I deviate a minute from feeding time he barks and whines and will not take a “just a minute” answer. He is aggravating about that, where he never used to be.
He gets on my nerves by relentlessly telling me it’s time for his dinner, or it’s time for me to go in the kitchen and cook a meal, or it’s time to go to bed. Everything has to be done when he wants it done, and it gets easier to just let him have his own way. I get on his nerves by telling him “no” so often, or “just wait a minute”.
What is most comforting is cuddling in the big bed, settling down to sleep. His sweetness shows up then, and all the aggravation and stress falls away.This has been a very unusual, stressful, frightening time. Your music downloads have been a big help. When he’s been irritating me, and I have been irritating him, we sit down and listen to some of it and we calm right down.
24/7 lockdown with my animals has been a blessing! Because I leave the house less often, when I do leave, my pup gets a little anxious. Ever since he came to live with me, I’ve used iCalm recordings as a ritual when I leave the house. He knows as soon as turn on the little Bluetooth player that I’m getting ready to leave. He looks for the special treat he gets when I go out the door, takes it to his bed, and settles down. It’s helped so much to have this ritual!
How’s it felt to be in isolation with your animals? I love it. I can spend more quality time with Shelby, we exercise more, I feel less guilt as now I am not leaving her home alone for extended hours every day.
What is most stressful? She is used to having me near all the time as I am able to work remote. Now when I leave for an hour or two, she is anxious (she is a nervous dog anyway, very sensitive to noise). I’m a bit concerned when I will have to go back to the office.
I have 7 cats who may or may not be “listening” when I play the download, but I play it every week for me and then my calmness enables me to be calm with them- less afraid, less anxious, moving slower. The coronavirus was so scary at first that I felt ungrounded and I read too much news and the music is like a step “back to earth.” I have been working at home (on Zoom and Skype) for many years, so this was not a big change, but it’s easy to feel like a robot after a morning on Zoom.
My dog (lab mix named Carbon) has actually been calmer in the last few months. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, and maybe he just aged out of some of his anxiety (he’s 5), or because we’re home all the time (he wasn’t totally alone much before because we mostly work from home), but either way it’s nice!
There is no question in my mind that, without my dear Sadie (a small poodle mix of about 10 years), I don’t know how I would have survived this COVID situation thus far! I will be 82 years old next month, and live alone in a small but lovely little bungalow in Berkeley, CA. My daughter and her family had originally adopted Sadie from a poodle rescue about 8 years ago. Unfortunately (for them), they discovered after a week or so that one of my granddaughters was allergic to Sadie–in spite of their hopes that, as a poodle, that would not be an issue. Sadie moved in with me–and I have been the beneficiary.
Sadie and I have always been good companions, but this pandemic has taken our relationship–and our interdependence–to a new level! We have become “co-dependent”! Though the outbreak has required that we “shelter-in-place”, the rules do permit “walking the dog”, and that we do on a twice daily basis (though it is more often that Sadie walks me than the reverse!). Having Sadie by my side (literally as well as figuratively) has been the main thing that has enabled me to remain healthy as well as SANE during this state of isolation. The slight “downside” of this co-dependence is that, on the rare occasion that I go somewhere and must leave Sadie behind, e.g., grocery shopping, Sadie becomes very stressed. She is not destructive, but she is clearly miserable.