Indy students and teachers take on some new companions over quarantine 


Atlas poses for a quick picture taken by Fuad.

The animal love is real. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the demand for pets skyrocket — in fact, some shelters couldn’t even keep up.

Mrs. Alyssa Griffin, a history teacher at Independence, said that when “Governor Northam closed schools in Virginia for the rest of the year, we were like ‘Oh my gosh. I’m gonna be home for the next five months, and there’s no time like the present.’” The next day, Mr. and Mrs. Griffin drove to Pennsylvania to get their dog Rugby, an Entlebucher Mountain Breed. 

Though Mrs. Griffin does admit one dog is enough for her, Rugby has taught her how to be an orderly dog mama. 

With his regular bathroom visits outside and two walks a day, Rugby was exercised and happy. Mrs. Griffin also benefited from her new charge. “He gave me a reason to go outside and not be cooped up.”

Rocking his hotdog costume with a smile is Rugby, Mrs. Griffin’s dog. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Griffin.


Sisters Shayna and Dara Elbaum, a sophomore and senior whose family adopted a dog, Philly, during quarantine, provided a similar line of reasoning. Shayna commented that “quarantine made training Philly easier. Everyone in my family was home, and we learned along the way Philly needed a lot of training.” 

Dara elaborated, saying, “We got Philly on a training schedule real fast…  It gave me something to do.”

After being adopted, Philly is happy to be lounging in her new home. Photo courtesy of Shayna Elbaum


The extra time spent with pets has come with its downsides though. Separation anxiety amongst pets has spiked ever since the hit of COVID-19.  Sophomore Zaara Fuad experiences this firsthand with her cat Atlas, jokingly saying, “He follows me everywhere — I can’t get rid of him. He even follows me to the bathroom,” 

Atlas poses for a quick picture taken by Fuad. Photo courtesy of Zaara Fuad.


She had talked about getting pets before, but never thought it would happen. “My parents felt bad for me, and were easier to convince to get… a pet.” In addition to her cat, she also got a spotted leopard gecko she named Taz. 

Taz, the leopard spotted gecko, laying in his tank. Photo courtesy of Zaara Fuad.


Fuad, with her two pets, says she loves animals and is ready for more. 

Philly and Atlas were two pets amongst thousands who were adopted from a shelter. Zaara Fuad takes pride in adopting, and stands by the famous, “Adopt don’t shop.” 

Shayna Elbaum had an interesting take on adopting, saying, “I’ve had dogs in the past, and all of them were rescued, but I feel like it was extra important to rescue Philly. Being in quarantine probably feels how the animals feel in the shelter.” 

Getting yourself a Covid pal overall results in better days. Mrs. Griffin herself said, “Ultimately, having a puppy — being a dog mom and dad — was stressful at first, but… it has 100% brought us more joy in quarantine.”