Over the first coronavirus lockdown, there was a nationwide puppy surge as people sought canine companions.
RSPCA figures revealed that Google searches for ‘puppies near me’ increased by 650% between January and July, prompting various dog charities to warn pet lovers about rushing into adoptions or purchases.
To help combat the issue, animal welfare charity Dogs Trust even temporarily changed their famous slogan ‘a dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ to ‘a dog is for life, not just for lockdown.’
But during such trying times, many believe we need man’s best friend now more than ever – and for those who considered the commitment that comes with a dog and made the necessary preparations, a ‘lockdown puppy’ turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.
Agnes Brougher, from Parsons Green, Tamsyn Marceau, from Richmond, and Lois Clear, from Hampton Hill, all adopted rescue dogs from No Boundaries Dog Rescue in Surrey during or immediately prior to lockdown.
Brougher, 48, has been an animal lover all her life but found she wasn’t ready to bring another one into her home after her first two dogs died three years ago.
Over the coronavirus lockdown though, she realised how much she missed having a canine companion and eventually adopted Tina, a two-year-old German Shepherd Pointer cross, in August.
She explained: “Our home had such a huge hole in it without a dog.
“One of the things that had for a while held us back from adopting was that we weren’t sure we had the time to give at the crucial beginning stages.
“In particular for a rescue dog, making sure they feel comfortable and settled at home in those first months is so important – lockdown gave us that opportunity.”
Brougher said Tina provided much happiness during the challenging lockdown experience.
She explained: “It’s fantastic to have a reason to go for a walk a couple times a day, and having a dog also gives you a chance to talk to your neighbours.
“In these past three months, I’ve met more people in my area than I have in the past three years of living here – that’s because of Tina.”
Marceau, 43, who adopted 18-month-old lurcher Twiggy a few months before lockdown, echoed Brougher’s sentiments.
She said: “In terms of mental health, I really think a dog can be the best medicine.
“Twiggy is such a character and she really makes me laugh.
“I’d go so far as to say everyone needs a dog in their life – my dogs have definitely kept me going through some difficult times.”
Marceau has even started writing a children’s book about adopting Twiggy, documenting what she said was at times a test in patience and commitment but ultimately an incredibly rewarding experience.
Clear, 32, who adopted 18-month-old Jack with her boyfriend Dan Glencross, 33, in March, also described the rescue process as very fulfilling.
She said: “When we first got Jack, he was afraid of his own shadow.
“Nowadays though, he loves attention, he loves a cuddle. He’s very playful.
“It’s one of the reasons we chose to rescue – we wanted to help a dog rather than just adding to the puppy industry which can be pretty problematic.”
Glencross also mentioned the positive impacts Jack had had on his mental well-being during lockdown.
He said: “Having a dog gives you a sense of purpose – you have to take him for a walk, you have to get out and about.
“I really appreciated that as it was something often difficult to find during those months stuck inside.”
Clear added: “Jack’s brought a lot of happiness to our lives.
“He’s brought Dan and I closer, and brought us closer to neighbours as, since no one can tell what breed he is, he’s a great conversation starter.”
No Boundaries Dog Rescue Founder Tracey Hussey said: “Choosing to adopt is so important because you’re offering a dog that otherwise wouldn’t have a future a better chance – you’re saving their life.
“But you have to be prepared – it takes a lot of patience and a lot of time to settle a rescue dog, so we do lots of work with potential rescuers to make sure they’re ready.”
Brougher and Clear had both owned rescue dogs in the past, so knew what preparations they had to make to give their dogs the best homes.
Clear said: “You can’t expect to have a ‘perfect’ dog – you don’t know what they’ve been through, so you have to give them time.”
Brougher added: “You need to think about how much time you can devote to your dog, particularly after Covid.
“It’s amazing to have another family member, but this will be for the next ten or fifteen years and you may need to adjust your life sometimes.”
Marceau, who hadn’t rescued a dog before Twiggy, commented: “I think it’s also important that people consider all types of dogs.
“There’s a misconception that you have to take on a puppy, which won’t suit everyone’s lifestyles.
“There are lots of older dogs who need a home too who will make great companions – something we’ve all needed during this time.”
For more information on adopting a rescue dog, you can visit this link.
You can also read about a Streatham dog-walker with depression who argued her puppy helped save her life here.