It was day 72 into the coronavirus lockdown when we brought home a 50 -day old Beagle and named him Dude. For months we had been delaying in bringing a pet into our lives. Finally, when we decided we were in the middle of a lockdown working from home. Like everyone else we too went through the whirlpool of emotions, stress and anxiety. My wife and I soon dived into our respective work lives, putting in over 12 hours a day.

Working hard became our escape from the negative news all around us. The banter reduced as we got busier. With evening dates out of the question, we took to staring at the TV screen post work. The household chores were being performed with military precision so that we could dive back into our work lives. After a while, it felt like work was more important at home than anything else. Coronavirus had started taking a toll on our mental wellbeing.

The day the pup entered our home, it felt like someone switched the lights back on. A transformation was afoot at home in many different ways. Here’s what happened:

The pup brought us closer

Only when the pup entered out home  we realised that our home has to be dog friendly. Furniture had to be moved around to create more space, gates had to be installed, woodwork needed to be coated to prevent Dude from nibbling at it. This and much more got my wife and me to make a full-blown project out of the situation. We enjoyed every moment of working with each other. We took out time from our hectic back to back video calls and meetings to bring it all together.

My wife and I had pups while growing up. Our home setup in pet upbringing were slightly different. While my dog would seldom come into the house and would be in the lawn for most of the day. My wife’s pet was more of an indoor pet and slept in the bedroom. Living in an apartment we had very different ideas about where the dog would sleep and what would be his area for play. We learnt more about each other, had plenty of laughs and negotiated hard on what the home processes would be in the days to come.

A happier schedule with the stress buster

We lost our recently developed early morning phone gazing habit. Our evening TVtime reduced considerably with both of us sitting on the floor with the pup playing talking and reminiscing about our childhood. The anxiety that arose from the barrage of negative news about coronavirus coupled with the work which had taken a toll on our mental wellbeing were forgotten.

With the energetic stressbuster at home, we spent time petting him during calls and caring for him during the course of the day. This turned out to be a mood enhancer. Our workplaces weredog friendly and we realised how much we missed playing around with a pet during the day.

We reclaimed our personal time by spending time with the pup. A realization dawned that it wasn’t the work which was unending, rather it was us trying to fill up every minute of the day with work to avoid talking about the stressed environment that we are living in. A reduction in screen time had broken us out of the negative cycle of bad news, anxiety build up and escapism with work. A happier environment brought us together. It led us to become calm and patient with each other too.

Rekindled old friendships

We shared the good news of bringing in a new entity in our lives with close friends and family. They, in turn, shared it to their friends. The news reached pals we hadn’t spoken to in years calling to congratulate us. This opened up our lives in more wonderful ways. Friends have always been an integral part of our lives but over time we got disconnected with a few. With some of our friends calling us and rekindling old memories it got us into a positive loop of calling friends whom we had gotten out of touch with. Dude became a catalyst to get reconnected with friends.

Our lives became much more social over video calls and we realised that not being able to meet in person was no excuse for us not to reach out to other friends. The positive interactions spilled out in our work lives too. It felt rejuvenating.

Focus on nurturing

It was refreshing to become a caregiver. Being emotionally available for a new being overnight came naturally to both my wife and me. Becoming pet parents meant we had to give the pup attention when he needed it. Keeping him loved, entertained, motivated became an important part of our lives. Even a grooming session strengthened my bond with Dude. Taking him to play in the lawn so that he can take in the sights, sounds and smells of the neighbourhood has become a part of my wife’s evening.

Bringing a pup home has transformed us in the middle of a pandemic. Though luck favoured it, we couldn’t have timed it better for this furball to come into our lives at this time. The experience of nurturing and caring for Dude has brought positivity in our lives. Rather than distracting us from the stress and despair in the world, it has brought us the realisation that deepening relationships are more important.