Editor’s Letter, May 2020: Our Pets and our New Routine

In a new routine of isolation and uncertainty, our pets’ companionship and loyalty has been a welcome relief.

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

We had always planned to run our Pets Guide in the May issue. And then, just after shipping our April issue to the printer at the beginning of March, the world came unglued. In a matter of days and weeks, a new vocabulary emerged to describe our reordered reality: COVID-19, social distancing, shelter in place, N95 masks, Zoom.

As we began working from home, our pets curled up next to us, rubbed up against our computers, squawked for attention, and interrupted video conference calls. But in a new routine of isolation and uncertainty, their companionship and loyalty has been a welcome relief. We’re fortunate that the virus doesn’t pass between humans and our pets.

So our Pets Guide feels like a timely ode to relationships that sustain us through tough times and that, perhaps, we take for granted at other times. They don’t ask us for much in return, except to be petted, scratched, fed, groomed, pampered, looked after when we go on vacation . . . OK, they ask for a lot in return. But it’s a two-way street, right? We pet owners have responsibilities, and so do they—mainly to be there when we need them. And we really need them now.

One of the silver linings during the pandemic has been an overall increase in the number of dogs and cats being adopted from shelters, even as shelters became less accessible to the public. We’ve all had to stay apart from each other, even family, so it’s natural that more of us are seeking personal connections with pets. They don’t care that you’re stuck in the house, that your kids are bored, or that you lost your job—they just want to hang out with you or, in the case of my cat, blithely ignore you. No questions asked.

We’ve seen some other silver linings during this mess, mostly in newfound or newly expressed appreciation for “essential” frontline workers and for competent government leadership. When we finally get back to some kind of normal, I hope we retain this appreciation for each other. And remember who our loyal, faithful friends and companions really are.

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