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    Keisha Mathew

    Keisha Mathew provides counseling to youth and their families, a role she has had for over 17 years. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderlust.writer.creator.

    Read this before getting a pandemic pet

    Before committing to a pet, be sure to ask yourself these questions first.


    I remember the day my family welcomed Zoomy Zoom (pictured) into our home. We were filled with anxiety, excitement and love.

    Yes, you heard that right: our Yorkie Terrier’s name is Zoomy Zoom. We brought our pandemic puppy home on a drizzly March 29. Even though I had been researching hypoallergenic dogs for about a year, the first three months of having Zoomy in our lives were still an adjustment. From the vaccine schedule to the poop collecting to the food restrictions, our lives changed under quarantine.

    The best parts were of course the play and cuddle time with our “furbaby.” We have truly enjoyed our new family member’s rambunctiousness while playing inside and outside of the house.

    The not-so-fun part was the potty training. In the beginning, it felt like Zoomy and I were battling over who was more stubborn. There were a few moments where I wanted to put a diaper on his furry butt, but at last, I can finally say that we have reached a place of potty harmony.

    Despite the rare moments of annoyance, it’s been such a joy to have added a pet to our home.

    [Related: Help your kids capture memories of this strange year]

    Following are a few items on our checklist whose exploration ensured the smoothest transition possible. Before you commit to getting a pet, be sure to ask yourself these questions first:

    Do you want an accessory, or a family member?
    Once the quarantine is lifted, most of us will be less attentive to our new pets. Is that fair to them? It’s important to consider training your pet to be alone for a few hours a week in order to prepare them for more independence in the home when you return to “normal” life. Perhaps hire a dog walker so they can socialize with other pups. Researching boarding facilities for long travel they may not be allowed to experience is another possibility.

    [Related: To the moms running on fumes, this is how to refill the tank]

    Can you handle picking up poop and cleaning up urine?
    This will definitely feel like a repeat of that first year with your human babies. Until your dog is fully trained, be ready to clean...constantly.

    Can you handle a beloved object being chewed on if it’s left unattended?
    It happens, so be prepared: Breathe in, breathe out, and hide your valuables!

    Are you OK with possibly being the main caretaker?
    As much as my kids stated they wanted a dog to play with and take care of, Zoomy and I are the dynamic duo — indoors and out. Most days I don’t mind, but other days I demand a break from the additional mommy duty.

    Can you afford the responsibility?
    If your pet gets sick unexpectedly, pet insurance may not cover it. (Yes, you need pet insurance.)

    Are you ready to talk about death?
    Having had several pet-death traumas in my childhood, I thread this topic in with my children every so often so they know that it is a part of life. We do our best to cherish Zoomy while he is with us, rambunctiousness and all.

    Keisha Mathew

    Keisha Mathew provides counseling to youth and their families, a role she has had for over 17 years. Follow her on Instagram at @wanderlust.writer.creator.

    Photo: Keisha Mathew

    Edited by NPN Laura

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