Pandemic pets bring joy, laughter during the toughest of times

May 25, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

While we’ve all spent the better part of the last 18 months trying to keep a new virus out of our lives and homes, many of us have also used this time to bring new personalities in. 

Recently, Headlines asked you to send in photos of your “pandemic pets” — pets adopted to help ease stress, serve as a welcome distraction, or get us moving while our routines were upended. Here are are just a few of your stories: 

(Click on images for a larger picture)

When you know, you know

Latte with Henry

From Kelsey Fearer, clinical outcomes data specialist, Department of Neurosurgery

After losing our border collie mix to an aggressive case of osteosarcoma in January, we decided in March that we were ready to bring home a new family member. We went to Genesee County Animal Control in Flint, committed to adopting a “pitbull.” We came home that day with the most perfect two-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier after our other dog, an 11-pound yorkie poo named Henry, confirmed she was THE one. 

Latte had a rough start in life. She was found in an abandoned garage, terrified, having recently given birth with no puppies to be found. On top of that, she was heartworm positive. We knew it would be a long road, but since the pandemic allowed us to be home all day, we knew we had the time and ability to take care of her the way she deserved.

The past two and a half months have been challenging, and we still have a ways to go in terms of treatment, but we can say with confidence that Latte is living her best life and filling our hearts with love and snuggles every day! 

Sweet company during the stay-at-home order


From Caroline Foster, research technician, obstetrics and gynecology 

I adopted this cute, 16-year-old tortoise shell cat on Feb. 1, 2020. Her name is Sugar. 

She was an unwanted cat my cousin asked me to take in.

Sugar was very shy and very much afraid of everything once she came into my home. I had her for 6 short months before finding a large tumor on her mammary chain and I had to say goodbye.

She kept me good company during early days of the pandemic and she was absolutely precious to me for that short time.

A long road to a new home


From Jodi Korte, post-acute care Home Care Services, Finance

In April 2020, a small, dusty, stray cat showed up on my porch. For the next few months she kept returning and we were making friendly progress. By July, she was following my leash-trained cat and I on morning walks before working from home. In August, she became ill. I took her to an animal hospital. Unfortunately, she managed to get away from them. She was lost for a full three days, when I got the call that she had been found. I picked her up and Parkway Animal Clinic made time in their fully-booked schedule to see us. After a few indoor months, her attention-getting, squeaky “meeea-meeea,” led me to her perfect name, Mia.

She is now my sweet, content indoor kitty. Working from home gave me the opportunity to be there with her during the adjustment days. I was able to keep an eye on her, as she got used to being inside, new surroundings, regular feeding, and my other cat, Harley Blu. 

Everyone needs to mask up!


From Anne Przykucki, Calendar Review and Analysis Office (CRAO)

Meet Lightfoot! I’ve wanted a Saint Bernard for about 20 years. When we first heard of the shutdowns overseas, I joked to friends that if it happened to us I’d have to get a Saint Bernard. A few weeks into our stay-at-home orders, they started to ask when I’d get my Saint.

The stars aligned and this sweet girl came home in September. She has introduced me to all my neighbors and has made quite a few friends — furry and human alike! 

I am grateful every day for this giant, slobbery, furry bundle of joy. Plus, the dark markings around her eyes are called a “mask.” So she is a perfect pandemic puppy, because she is always wearing her mask!

Finding ‘Joy’, even during Zoom calls

Klink and Ms. Reagan Joy

From Veralynn Klink, administrative assistant, Michigan Multipayer Initiatives 

Several months into the pandemic we were fortunate to be able to adopt the very FABULOUS Ms. Reagan Joy! She loves to nap during her mommy’s Zoom meetings and occasionally during the longer ones, she will decide to give her opinion by barking, jumping up and giving kisses — resulting in immediate muting and camera being turned off.

Ms. Reagan Joy is literally a joy, so much so that she has found that she has her own entourage including her grandmother, sister, cousins and neighbors who love to stop in and play after work hours, using social distancing guidelines, of course.

A new kind of coworker


From Ruth Longoria, research area specialist, neurology

This is Samosa.

She was initially my daughter’s cat but came to visit when the pandemic first started.

She ended up staying with us and has become a beloved member of our family!

It’s nice to have a coworker when working from home!

Not a tough nut to crack


From Phuong-Cat Ngo, nurse aide, CVC 6A

After one of my senior dogs passed away in late 2019, I began volunteering at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV). 

In early March 2020, I helped with HSHV’s Love Train event where Chestnut was brought in. I instantly fell in love with the older beagle and adopted him as soon as I was able to.

He is a bundle of joy and always full of love. I am so glad that he brought my family some happiness during the pandemic. 

Brotherly love brings laughter

Clark Ashton Griswold Smith, left, and Franklin Floyd Johnson

From Rachel Sprovtsoff, MA, Program Manager, Clinical Trunk

Last February, our beloved dog, Floyd, had reached the end of his amazing 15-year life with us. Two weeks later, we couldn’t take the empty feeling, so we went to the Huron Valley Humane Society looking for two cats who needed to be adopted together. 

Boy, did we find the very best brothers. We brought home Clark Ashton Griswold Smith (left) and Franklin Floyd Johnson (right) at the end of February, just before the shutdown. They settled in quickly since we were always around and are very friendly, fun guys.

I love that we were able to keep them together and seeing their daily interactions has kept us all laughing.

They have very different personalities, but they fit right in with our family and are so loved.

Making up for lost time


From Kat Bergman, marketing and communications manager, Department of Psychiatry & Eisenberg Family Depression Center 

This is our old lady, Milu. She’s a lab mix we adopted from the Huron Valley Humane Society 15 years ago. She used to be all black but now she has ‘reverse raccoon’ markings on her face. 

The silver lining of the pandemic has definitely been that we get to spend so much time with her. 

She’s pictured here in a new shed we built, and converted into a “Kid Kabin” to give the kids a place to play over the summer. As you can see, I sometimes escape into the shed for a change of scenery and Milu is my favorite coworker!

‘We’ll be home a week; two max!’


From Missy Gabriel, GME program administrator, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Ironically, we picked up Sadie the same week everything shut down, thinking it would be a week (two weeks max!) foster situation. Little did we know, we were adopting a pandemic pet!

Meet more of your colleagues’ pandemic pets in Part 2 of the series!