These Pandemic Pet Adoption Stories Will Warm Your Heart
Over the past year, an unprecedented number of Canadians opened their homes—and their hearts—to new friends. Here are just a few of the lucky animals who found loving families during the COVID lockdown.
Photo: Lynne McAvoy
The year 2020 was a momentous one for me. I welcomed my first grandchild, turned 60 and retired from a long career as a librarian. Tragically, it was also the year my 29-year-old son, William, died suddenly. Each event was impacted by COVID in different ways: I couldn’t see my grandchild in person, couldn’t have a birthday party or retirement party, and the funeral for my son had to be kept to 50 people—though a lot more attended it virtually.
My husband, Mark, and I already have an 11-year-old golden retriever/Lab mix named Gus. I was convinced he would be our last dog. Then my mind started picturing just one more for us. This last year has made me realize just how much a pet gives you: unconditional love, a place to focus your energy, and something to care for. That’s how we ended up with Toby, our chocolate Lab. He’s a treasure and brings me joy during these unusual times in which we live. —Lynne McAvoy, Ottawa, Ont.
Photo: Bill Urquhart
Since my partner, Laura, and I adopted her on a bitterly cold winter’s day last March, our fierce little bearded dragon has warmed our hearts and gained a huge place in our household. Choosing her name was a source of hours of animated debate. Groot, Smaug and Drago were all rejected for the name that perfectly suits her personality and colouring: Sunshine.We feed her crickets and blueberries and give her baths. Her health and welfare dominate dinner conversation. Meanwhile, our little dragon has grown and grown and grown! She’s now 250 grams. She’s been the perfect pandemic pet—we are so busy caring for her there is no time for doom scrolling. —Bill Urquhart, Kanata, Ont.
Photo: Sharon Shuttleworth
Last February, I adopted from my neighbour a goat whose mother had died after giving birth. As a former farmer, I could see that the kid was hypothermic, and I didn’t give her very good odds of making it through the night. My husband, Wayne, and I put her in a laundry basket in front of our roaring wood stove, and after a couple of hours, she eventually stopped shaking. The next morning, when she poked her head out of her basket and looked at me, it was a relief.Over the next month, she grew stronger and healthier, and soon we had a tiny, sassy little scrap of a goat. We named her Lola. I started posting about her progress on my Facebook page, and people would tell me how it was the first thing they looked for each morning. Lola was raising spirits, helping people cope with not only a bleak February, but pandemic restrictions, too. Now nine months old, she’s happy, healthy and hilarious. We love taking her for walks in our neighbourhood. When she’s had enough, she will just lie down where she is, and there’s nothing we can do until she decides to get up again! —Sharon Shuttleworth, Rock View County, Alta.
Photo: Dorothy Thorpe
In 43 years of married life, we have almost always had a pet: dogs, cats, budgies, hamsters and a rabbit. What can I say? We are animal lovers! Our last cat, Danny, died about two years ago, before COVID hit. Last year, we felt it was time for another pet, only to discover how difficult it was to find one—every store and shelter had a waiting list. Finally one shelter told us they had a newly arrived four-month-old kitten with medium black fur. It was love at first sight all round, and we were given permission to take him home that day. We named him Peanut after South Africa’s Black Cat brand peanut butter. Two months later, we took him to be neutered. An hour later, we received a call from the vet saying there was a surprise. Peanut was a girl! So Peanut was a “she-nut,” and her surgery took a little longer. She is one feisty cat. She fetches toys and dumps them in her water bowl. She also meows like crazy when one of us leaves the house. At 10 months, she has finally been trained to not attack our legs. It has taken a while! We have always preferred male cats, as they seem to have a gentler disposition. But once she was in my arms, male or female, she was ours. We love her to bits and wouldn’t change a thing. If you look closely at her photo, you’ll notice that her eyes are the colour of…peanut butter! —Dorothy Thorpe, Fall River, N.S.
Photo: Lynne Heck
Jax the Newfoundland, Gunner the Miniature Australian Pit Bull and Star the Calico
Last summer, our daughter and her family downsized to a cabin on a lake with a much smaller yard and no fence. They asked if their dogs, Jax and Gunner, and 15-year-old calico cat, Star, could come live with us on our farm. We said yes and have enjoyed their company ever since. The dogs love to go for truck rides and have lots of room to run around and wear off energy. Star likes lots of attention and follows me until I sit and pet her while she is purring, as happy as can be. They are great company and sure have helped pass the time as we are pretty much stuck at home. —Lynne Heck, Mountain View County, Alta.
Photo: David Muise
Guinness the Border Collie
When the first pandemic lockdown happened, our daughter, Winter, came home from university. She had a lot of spare time on her hands, since there weren’t any summertime student jobs or much else to do. One morning she bounced into the kitchen with a great idea: the family needed a new dog. She’d found a breeder with a new litter of brown border collies. Ten weeks later, we welcomed our new friend, Guinness. Guinness immediately had us all caught up in his zest for life and need to just play. That’s not saying he couldn’t be a bit of a brat sometimes. He’d steal tissues from the pockets of my wife, Marian, and run away, even though he knew it was wrong. But he also takes us for long walks in the woods and gives the best nighttime cuddles.He’s now a one year old. He makes us smile and makes us laugh. He doesn’t have the formal title, but to us he is the best therapy dog ever. —David Muise, Grand Lake N.S
Photo: Marlene Anderson
Marlene Anderson of Midland, Ontario, adopted this adorable pup—Charlie—back in November 2020, and captured this sweet selfie on the day of the adoption. “We bonded immediately, and basically we rescued each other,” Marlene writes. “He is a six-year-old Maltese Shih Tzu mix. He is definitely keeping me sane during these isolated times.”
Photo: Marlene Anderson
“It’s like we’ve been together for the full six years of his life,” Marlene says, adding, “He’s a perfect walking companion!”
Photo: Marlene Anderson
“I was a little hesitant at first about adopting a rescue dog since you don’t know anything about their past, but Charlie is so loving and we are a perfect fit,” says Marlene. We’re so happy you found each other!
Photo: Rebecca Bromberger
Altogether now—“Aww!” This impossibly cute kitten found his forever home with Rebecca Bromberger’s family in Barrhead, Alberta during the pandemic. Even the story behind his name is sweet: “We found him abandoned under a spruce tree,” Rebecca writes. “He is now a very happy inside kitty.”
Photo: Dan Wever
How could you ever say no to that little face? Kona was welcomed home by Dan Wever of Grande Prairie, Alberta back in October. “She is full of energy and is turning out to be a great companion,” Dan says. “Having a pet in these trying times with the pandemic is such a great stress relief.”
Photo: Sheila Drury
Welcome to Canada, Baxter! Sheila Drury of Mount Hope, Ontario, captured this sweet shot of her Texan-born fur baby en route to his new home. “What is he thinking?” Sheila muses. “‘Jim, watch out for that transport? Or what is all that white stuff on the ground? They didn’t have that in Texas!'” We hope this handsome boy is settling in nicely, Sheila!
Photo: Cat foster program, courtesy Bev Colwell
Bev Colwell of Oshawa, Ontario is eagerly awaiting the arrival of this majestic feline, who’s got quite the journey ahead of him. “I am adopting this gorgeous cat from a rescue group in Egypt,” Bev writes. “He will be arriving soon, with a group of cats rescued from the streets.” She’s even got the perfect new name lined up for him—Cairo!
Photo: Christine Cobel
Rescued from a box at the side of the road, Roxy is one lucky pooch to have found a home with Christine Cobel of Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario. “Roxy is sweet, affectionate, smart and playful,” says Christine. “She is the love of our lives and I keeps 11 year old rescue, Sam, great company.” They already look inseparable!
Photo: Tammy Green
“My daughter’s puppy Koda travelled from Ontario to Blanc Sablon, Quebec, back in March 2020,” writes Tammy Green. “Once he arrived, the whole family took to this little guy.” Having clocked more than 2,000 kilometres on the journey, that’s one well-travelled pup!
Next, read the heartwarming story of how adopting a puppy helped one family through the pandemic.