Richmondite recounts the challenges of raising a ‘COVID puppy’

Lack of socialization with other dogs, people during pandemic made it difficult to breed a puppy, says Richmond woman

For many, the pandemic seemed like the perfect time to add to their family – or so we thought.

Dog adoptions have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic – the BC SPCA reported last year that some animals, such as puppies, could receive 200 requests for the same animal – as people spent more time at home and isolated.

But it’s not just people who have been affected by this isolation.

“I didn’t want it to be that way. I didn’t want him to be a COVID puppy, ”said Richmond resident Allisa Ritchie.

Ritchie and his family had originally planned to get their puppy in November 2020 after traveling, but when those plans were canceled due to the pandemic, they ended up adopting Echo, a poodle, in August of last year.

It turned out to be a challenge, she said, raising a puppy during the pandemic, which meant that Echo – now 11 months old and affectionately known as the ‘snub puppy’ – didn’t. could not meet many other dogs or people.

“My challenges were that we didn’t have anyone in the house except the three of us – my son, my husband and I – and so he really didn’t see a lot of people.”

And on walks, people generally kept their distance from each other because of COVID-19.

While every breed and owner is different, Ritchie believes many new dog owners have similar issues as she and Echo have encountered other under-socialized dogs on their walks.

Ritchie said she and a friend, who also adopted a puppy last year, were able to arrange play dates for the two.

“So we both wore masks in our backyard and let the puppies play because I knew they had to have time to play.”

While Echo still shows fear of aggression and is nervous with children and skateboards, he has improved and improved with other dogs. Ritchie has found plenty of exercise – they take two hour walks each day – helps, as does going to the dog park. She is also constantly working to train him and said there are many helpful resources online.

“I train him when we greet other dogs, so when I see a dog coming around the corner on the path, I sit him down, I give him a treat – he has to watch me – but just training when you are greeting is really helpful because he has to sit down before greeting.

Ritchie said she might also start arranging backyard play dates with more dogs depending on how comfortable people are.

She also hopes new dog owners will help each other and be patient with each other and their dogs. Asking before approaching an unfamiliar dog can also be helpful, Ritchie said, adding that she has found that squatting at the dog’s level can be a non-threatening way for them to get to know you.

“Let’s all work together – let’s observe the basic COVID rules and get our dogs used to each other,” she said. “Move slowly. All of these efforts will pay off in the long run,” she added.

  • With a file by Elana Shepert, Vancouver Is Awesome

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