Mitchell: The Tale of a Pandemic Puppy

By Amanda Schwarz

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, my sisters, like many others, had a brilliant idea: “Let’s get a puppy!” Arguing that someone would always be home to take care of it, they decided now was the perfect time. And thus, one day, they showed up with a few week old ball of fluff called Mitchell. 

Life with baby Mitchell was not so problematic because, as my sisters had claimed, we were always home. However, my family and I waited for news of when we could reemerge back into the old routines of school, work, and family vacations, while Mitchell grew up believing we would always be around. 

When my sisters and I went back to school, and my parents back to their lives, Mitchell, along with pandemic puppies around the globe, learned one horrific fact: our lives do not revolve around him. He now has a disastrous case of separation anxiety. Though his breed (a mix between golden retriever and yellow lab) contributes to this, a large part of it came from the peculiar conditions of his upbringing, and he is not alone. An article from The Washington Post analyzing the same issue states, “More than 23 million American households — nearly 1 in 5 nationwide — adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).” 

The issue affects many who adopted during the pandemic. While many cats have little issues with independence, and various other pets don’t mind the lack of human presence at all, dogs get incredibly attached to their owners. Mitchell tends to become physically sick when everyone leaves, especially for a lengthy amount of time like a family vacation. Though we try our best not to leave him, sometimes it’s nearly impossible to avoid. His anxiety is part of his life. 

Furthermore, Mitchell faces another issue. Though he loves the company of his brother, Bowzer (who we got before the pandemic), he doesn’t really appreciate the companionship of other dogs, or too many other people. Doggy daycare and widely packed places stress him out just like seperation does. His dog version of social anxiety can be traced back to his life in lockdown as well. Mitchell rarely went anywhere remotely busy when he was a puppy, and now he doesn’t know how. All of Mitchell’s post-covid issues make his life unalike any dog we’ve had before. We, like every other family learning of their pandemic puppy’s problems, are faced with discovering new ways to make life after lockdown safe and happy for everyone.