Dogs are mankind’s best friends, and the furballs also make for perfect pals in times of dire need. Many Covid-marooned citizens say they look at their four-legged paw-friends at home as resident emotional props at a time when lockdown stress is beating everyone down.
Covid-induced restrictions are harsh even for pets as they miss out on their daily neighbourhood stroll. The leash that binds them to normalcy is broken during lockdown.
Like everyone else who has been locked in for most of the past year, Bollywood celebrities, too, have strived to beat the stress while staying at home. Those that have paw-friends would tell you the emotional toll has certainly been lighter.
Bollywood’s action star and animal lover John Abraham couldn’t agree more. The 48-year-old says he is grateful to have a paw-friends in the form of Bailey, a stray he embraced in 2016 along with her solitary pup, Sia.
“Being in lockdown isn’t fun but spending time with my Bailey and Sia is. We’ve been playing ball, cuddling up and just chilling around the house. I’m so glad I have their company, and they seem especially grateful for mine,” John Abraham said.
Bailey and Sia made John realise an important thing, “There are so many amazing dogs in shelters and on streets. I encourage those with the time, resources, patience and love to adopt and make them their companion during lockdown and for life.”
Raveena Tandon-Thadani says the quarantine has not been difficult thanks to the four paw-friends she has as pets. The actress said, “The quarantine hasn’t been all bad. I love having so much extra time to spend with my animal companions — Puma, Luficer, Angel and Junior — and they seem to love having me around more often — no more sad faces every time I leave the house! They don’t expect or want me to keep a social distance from them!”
Raveena takes out time to feed community dogs and cats, too, and has been helping injured or sick animals she may have found during the lockdown and even otherwise.
For filmmaker-actress Pooja Bhatt, the quarantine would have been tough without her animal friends. She said, “The quarantine would have been impossible to endure without my animal companions. They provided companionship, stability, love and looking into their eyes gave me the feeling that ‘this too shall pass’. Feeding community animals is something I am committed to. It gives me gratification.”
“Dil Bechara” actress Sanjana Sanghi believes Covid has had an effect on pets, too. “Just like all of us feel cooped up and constrained, them, even more so. The trick really is to optimise whatever space we do have and come up with new games and tricks to have them move around within our homes as much as possible,” she said.
The actress, who is a pet parent of five dogs, added, It’s unreal to experience the joy they bring to our lives. They’re all equally competitive and territorial about our love, and all of us in the family compete to be their favourites.”
Sachin Bangera, Director of Celebrity and Public Relations, PETA India, sees an advantage in lockdown. “There’s a silver lining to all the time people have been spending at home: Many cats, dogs, and other animals are finally getting the companionship, attention, and exercise they’ve always needed and deserved,” he said.
Bangera added that an animal’s needs don’t disappear when lockdown ends and urged everyone to stay committed while allotting adequate time to their paw-friends. She also asks people to treat their pets as companions and family members.