All of the cuddles

How Our Pets Saved Us during the Pandemic

The Houstonia staff reflects on how our furry (and feathered) friends helped us through working from home.

By Houstonia Staff May 20, 2021 Published in the Spring 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Feather Boa Bonding

Reba (a.k.a. Reebus).

I lost my 16-year-old cat Kirby in July 2019 and spent a year adrift in No-Pets-ville—until I stumbled upon a picture of a dilute tortie, “Esme,” on Houston Pets Alive. I masked up, had a meet and greet at her foster’s home, and we instantly bonded—she likes colorful feather boas; I lived in New Orleans for ten years. She goes by Reba (a.k.a. Reebus) now, and totally runs the show. I am but her nonstop Temptations enabler, pom-pom thrower, and snuggle partner, and gladly so. There’s not much time to dwell on much else. —Gwendolyn Knapp


It's a Hard-Knock Life ... to Stay off the Bed 

As 2020 ended, my wife and I had two little girls and a new house … so, you know what came next. In January we welcomed home a 2-year-old rescue mutt named Annie. She may dart into the neighborhood to chase squirrels, and we’ll forever be teaching her to stay off our 4-year-old’s bed, but she’s the sweetest addition to the family and the best new friend to help ride out this pandemic at home. —Timothy Malcolm 

Can You Please Say, "Tweet, Tweet?"

Conrad the birdie. 

While most people find their childhood bedrooms taken over by boxes or exercise equipment, at the beginning of quarantine I found my mother had given my room to Conrad, her spoiled pet parakeet. For the three months I spent at my parents’ house during lockdown, we were roommates, and despite his screeches, constant twittering, and stubborn refusal to learn any human words, Conrad’s singing gave me a sense of calm I sorely needed. And he and I came to a tacit agreement: If he didn’t squawk before my alarm in the morning, I’d defend him life and limb from the cat. —Catherine Wendlandt 


Image: Amy Kinkead

O Captain! My Captain!

During the pandemic, my high-energy husky-border-collie mix, Captain, has taken me on walking adventures I never would have taken without him: Down the Heights hike-and-bike trail to see the beautiful home dotted with roaming chickens that my husband and I like to call the Chicken Ranch; to see Captain’s best friend, a large, 18-year-old tortoise named Billy; and on visits near Halbert Park, where wild Guinea fowl roam free. With these adventures, I was able to escape the anxieties, boredom, and constant fear of the pandemic. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the first line from Walt Whitman’s poem to Lincoln, “O Captain! my Captain! Our fearful trip is done…” because we now have vaccines, and soon this pandemic will be over! Of course, our daily walks will continue. —Amy Kinkead


Dolly and Winnie.

Image: Dianna Wray

Winnie the Pooch and Dolly

My darlings, Dolly and Winnie, helped me deal with the lockdown, the pandemic, being apart from my fiancé, the sheer unpredictability of the times we’ve been living through, in countless ways. The fluffy tails, the determined barks, the nightly snuggles, the absolute certainty that they are entitled to a portion of whatever I’m eating. It’s hard to keep being sad when a black-eyed, black and silver Tibetan Terrier sits herself on your lap and pats your hand with her paw whenever you even think of crying, or to stay in a bad mood when watching her brindled little brother bark furiously at dogs on TV, knowing his loving little self is only ferocious when the dogs are fictional. —Dianna Wray


Elvis Wants to Leave the Building

In the beginning it was a fun little gift, right? We were going to get to spend a couple of weeks at home with our pets—how cool! My “snoop-ervisor” Elvis soon became Chief Break Officer because, I kid you not, at 11:56 a.m. every single workday, he wanders into my office and promptly puts his paw on my left leg. “It’s time. To take me. For a walk.” I have to admit his demand to go outside and get some fresh air has kept me sane during these days. Thanks, big guy. —Monica Fuentes Carroll

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