Column: Pandemic isolation would be more difficult without my pets



Move aside, seasonal depression.

There's a new mental health crisis hitting the streets: loneliness.

While conforming to the new norm of living amid a global pandemic, I have to make my health and wellness a top priority.

I've been rigorously playing my part to protect myself and my community by isolating and socially distancing.

Still, my lack of human contact has taken its toll.

Honestly, I'd snap if it weren't for the two that have been with me through it all – my dog, Fred, and my cat, Paul.

study published by the science journal PLOS Medicine found a link between having a furry friend and your physical and mental health.

And for this author, the association has never been more apparent and appreciated after experiencing this past year.

The unconditional love that a pet brings mitigates some of the detrimental psychological effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

(Even with my animals, these have not been entirely joyful times, especially when a pet decides to make my keyboard into a catwalk during an important Zoom meeting.)

Similar to most Detroit Mercy students, I spent my time before the pandemic inside the classroom, and my classes dictated my schedule.

Now, with asynchronous courses and little interaction, I find myself suffering from loneliness and a lack of structure. 

If it weren’t for my pets’ feeding and exercise schedule, I fear what type of recluse I would become.

If you find yourself relating to any of the aforementioned but can’t handle the commitment that comes with pet ownership, fear not.

There are many options for Detroit Mercy students to see if having an animal companion would suit their lifestyle. 
With established companies like Rover, Wag and PetBacker on the rise, it's easy to get a taste of the joy that having a pet may bring you by hosting them for a weekend or walking them in their owners' neighborhood, all while making a little money on the side.

Giving back to the community and possibly even saving a life could also be an option, thanks to the Michigan Humane Society's foster program.  

The organization places a needy pet in your home temporarily while providing everything necessary to care for them.
But if hosting a pet within your home isn't an option, or say you live on campus where pets are not allowed, there are still three society animal shelters, all within a 20-mile radius of the university, at which there's bound to be someone hounding for your attention – even if it is just one time.

Now that human touch has become almost a health hazard, it can be difficult to find ways to cope with loneliness and the health risks associated with it.

But for me, I’ll take the risk of my dog truly eating my homework over an empty house any day.