SOUTH ORANGE/MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The global pandemic has sparked all kinds of emotions — anxiety, confusion, anger, and most prominently for many, boredom. As a way to cope with boredom in self-isolation, many people have turned to pets, specifically dogs, as an answer to their problems. 

Dan Cohen and his family, residents of South Orange, recently went through the adoption process themselves. A few days ago, the Cohens took in Maisy, a terrier mix puppy who was found abandoned in a box in South Carolina.

The family thought it would be easy to adopt a dog in the midst of a pandemic, but the task turned out to be much more difficult than they expected. “There are so many people adopting right now. It was definitely hard,” Dan said. The family missed out on a few dogs who were listed as available on pet websites then went to other families. But timing is everything: Rescue organization Lost Paws Animal Rescue brought Maisy and her siblings to New Jersey and put them in foster homes. Dan saw Maisy's picture when a Facebook friend was fostering her — full disclosure, it was TAPinto SOMA editor Alia Covel — and within a week she was theirs.

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“Overall, it was a great decision because the whole family is around right now.... Our dog gives us a good excuse to get out of the house and really puts a positive spin on things during a very negative time,” he added.

Maplewood resident Natalie Morral feels similarly. Like the Cohens, Morral’s family took in a puppy during lockdown. The Morrals welcomed Gigi, a mix between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frise (known as a Shichon), into their home a few weeks ago. Due to pre-existing health conditions, the Morrals decided to go through the same breeder they used for their previous dog. “That was the only reason it wasn’t extremely difficult to get a puppy. Before we decided to go through our old breeder, there were basically no dogs available,” Morral claimed.

“I would definitely recommend getting a dog to others right now,” she continued. “Having Gigi around gives me a reason to get out of the house and stay active every day. She’s also an amazing stress reliever!” 

Pandemic puppies, as they are commonly referred to now, are growing rapidly in popularity. These furry friends might just be the best solution to a complex mental health problem.