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Opinion: Unrequited puppy love in Squamish

Not much improves mental health like a wagging tail, studies show, particularly for teens.
The late Mieko, Jennifer Thuncher's former dog. He loved Squamish trails. The family is now looking for another dog, but — like many others — has found it is next to impossible to adopt right now.
I’m looking for a new friend.

A buddy who will hike trails with me, listen to my problems at the end of a long day, and not judge me when I eat a tub of ice cream for dinner; a friend who will calm my nerves because, after this year, I kind of feel like my emotions have been rubbed raw by a brick.

I started looking for a new furry friend last April.

We put our last fur baby down just before the pandemic last year. Saying goodbye was gut-wrenching, as every dog parent knows.

At first, I wasn’t ready for a new dog. I wanted to grieve for Mieko, who left us at 14-years-old and after accompanying our boys through their childhoods.

But then, my film-industry husband was laid off, COVID-19 restrictions were in full force, and I was more than ready for the pitter-patter of four little paws.

Squamish is a dog-loving town, so I am not telling readers anything they don’t know about the benefit of being a dog owner.

I can probably count on one hand the sources in Squamish I have interviewed who didn’t own a pet.

Not much improves mental health like a wagging tail, studies show, particularly for teens.

A 2020 McCreary Centre Society study done in partnership with Paws for Hope Animal Foundation found adolescents with pets noted improvements to their overall well-being (84%), mental health (78%), sense of responsibility (77%), and said it gave them a sense of purpose (71%).

Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported that having their pet reduced the amount of time they spent on their phones or other electronic devices.


But I wasn’t alone in looking for a pup to love during COVID-19.

According to a recent survey by Glacier Media’s Mario Canseco, of polling company Research Co, more than one in 10 Canadian dog owners have gotten their pet in the last year.

There are, of course, practical reasons for this: with more of us working from home, we have the time to devote that we didn’t when we are at the office and commuting.

But the main reason for finding a new Fido cited in the Research Co survey was companionship (71%), followed by abiding by the wishes of a family member (42%), fun (37%), recreation, exercise (28%) and protection (14%).

Those of us looking for a pet, though, quickly found a hugely competitive adoptive market. I have filled out many applications to no avail.

More people have been looking to adopt and border closures and other COVID-19 restrictions have meant dogs from other locations aren't getting into the same rate.

Thus, not as many pets left needing forever homes.

Krista Unser, manager at the BC SPCA Sea to Sky Community Animal Centre, told The Chief last month that they have been getting dozens of applications per pet.

Of course, this competition is a ‘paw’sitive in that the animals will be placed in the best families.

And as Unser also noted, patience is a virtue when it comes to waiting for the pet meant for you.

So I will wait, collar, leash and dog bowl at the ready.

What has your pandemic pet search experience been? Let us know with a letter to the editor (
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