New dog days: families adopt during pandemic

Photo provided by Adria Wilson
Remy, a 3 1/2-month-old Weimaraner mix peers over the couch in his new home, two weeks after being adopted. Senior Adria Wilson and her family adopted Remy from a rescue after deciding that now was the perfect time to make a new addition to the family.

Ever since the loss of her family’s first dog one year ago, Sara Charles Waterstraat has been wanting another dog. But it wasn’t until the coronavirus pandemic shut the school and forced people to stay at home except for essential activities that her parents warmed up to the idea. 

After a couple days of looking, the Waterstraat family has a new addition: Trooper, a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. 

During this extended period of social distancing, it isn’t hard to get lonely. For some students, face-time and virtual Netflix parties, have been enough to fill the void. For others, more drastic measures were in order. Taking on new responsibility in the midst of a global pandemic, some families have chosen to adopt dogs for companionship, entertainment and an excuse to get out of the house. 

Sara and her family decided to adopt Trooper because he was a retired ex-show dog and well-trained, making for a manageable transition after getting a new dog on such short notice. 

“We have another dog, and he naturally gravitates towards my mom,” Sara said, “so Trooper has been kind of my dog, which has been really nice.” 

Being the one that Trooper sleeps with at night and who is always taking Trooper out for walks, Sara has taken on a new level of responsibility during this period of staying at home.  

For weeks my mom disagreed because she didn’t want the new puppy with a ton of energy to be stuck at home alone. But now that we can’t leave the house, she agreed there really was no better time.

— Adria Wilson

Similarly, senior Adria Wilson and her older sister Lilia have been wanting a new dog and finally convinced their mom that now was the perfect time. 

“For weeks my mom disagreed because she didn’t want the new puppy with a ton of energy to be stuck at home alone. But now that we can’t leave the house, she agreed there really was no better time,” Adria said.

On March 29, Adria and her family adopted a 3½-month-old Weimaraner mix named Remy from Wright-Way Rescue, a nonprofit animal shelter in suburban Morton Grove. 

“He has definitely taken up, like, most of our time because someone always has to be watching him,” Adria said.

After being at home all day for weeks on end, Remy has given Adria an excuse to get some fresh air and walk around her neighborhood. 

“Quarantine definitely made it a lot easier to get a new puppy because my sister and I get to spend a lot of time training him and giving him attention,” Adria said. 

It’s not just Adria and Sara making additions to their families, Chicago Animal Care and Control announced in a Facebook post on April 7 that for the first time ever, they had no more dogs available for adoption. The city’s shelter does house other animals and has some dogs for other reasons. Additional dogs have come available to adopt in the past week.