Now, after over a year of lockdowns here in the UK, people across the country have been reflecting on the help they have received from their loyal furry house mates.
Sarah, 26, found being stuck at home during the first lockdown “very overwhelming”. After a medical condition which placed her on the high risk list, Sarah was forced to work from home. “My job gave me a purpose, I couldn’t even leave my home for that during lockdown, all my family were at work, it was a very lonely time for sure”.
Not long after the first lockdown, came the government announcement of the second one. “We had no clue how long this lockdown was going to last. I needed to do something to keep me entertained and make me feel less lonely during the day. Myself and my partner have always wanted to get a puppy, we thought, if not now then when are we actually going to get one?”. Sarah and her partner were soon after on their way to pick up their first ever puppy.
Sarah’s partner spent the duration of the first lockdown working on a coronavirus ward at Exeter Hospital. “It was difficult, he was working extremely long hours, day in day out watching his patients struggling and fighting for their lives. He was coming home after a long shift and you would barely be able to get two words out of him. His mental health was on a downwards spiral” said Sarah.
After getting a puppy during the second national lockdown, Sarah found that her partner’s mood when coming home from work was significantly happier. “We had more to do together during lockdown and it gave him a reason to leave the house for something other than going to work and back. The difference between Matt in the first lockdown and Matt in the second lockdown was amazing. All because of our pup”.
In a study led by University of York, which consisted of 4,000 pet owners, over 70% of which agreed that their pets helped them with the struggle of loneliness and depression during lockdown. The participants also agreed that their pets gave them “purpose and meaning to their life”.
“The difference between the families mental health during the first lockdown and the second was incredible. We felt like we actually had a purpose, a reason to leave the house, something to keep us busy” added Sarah.
The study conducted by University of York also found that 87% of pet owners here in the UK helped them cope with lockdown restrictions and 95% of those pet owners agreed that they would not be able to cope with lockdown without their pets.
Galin, 46, living with his 6 furry housemates, found himself in an exceptionally better mood when he was around his pets during lockdown, compared to when he was away from them. “I don’t think I could have coped during lockdown without my pets. It was an incredibly lonely time for people, something that many of us aren’t used to at all. My pets kept me busy and gave me a purpose every day to leave the house and get out of bed”.
A second study conducted by the Dogs Trust, consisted of 6,000 dog owners, of which 34% reported feeling closer to their dog during lockdown and 90% of pet owners reported that they were grateful for their pet during government restrictions.
Nicole, from Exeter, spent lockdown with her 2 year old Doberman Luna. “I couldn’t imagine spending a lockdown for such a long period of time without Luna. I struggled as it is, Luna was definitely my main source of company and entertainment. I couldn’t imagine the difficultness of lockdown for those who spent it totally alone. I only have Luna to thank for keeping me and my mental health in check during these times”.
Alongside pets improving our mental health during lockdown, owners of pets have also realised that their pets seem a lot happier whilst having their humans with them all the time. Sarah, Matt, Galin and Nicole all saw a huge difference in their pets behaviour after spending such a long time at home with them. “Luna was a lot more affectionate I found. Maybe a little attention seeking too. But she was definitely happier with the extra walks and cuddles” added Nicole. All four of pet owners noticed a positive change in their pet’s behavior alongside the positive impact pets had on their owners’ lockdown experience for the past year.