Pandemic Pets


One of Melanie Flynn’s sheep!

Arden Allman

In mid March, as it became more apparent that Westtown would finish the semester online, and I would be at home for the rest of the spring and summer, a familiar itch began to materialize for me. As a semi-frequent owner of animals, I have known this sort of insatiable desire for a new furry companion many times. I got my first hamster, a hefty breed called a  teddy bear, when I was 7 or 8. Affectionately named Snickers, this lady hamster was a treat smuggler and became pretty overweight, as far as hamsters go. Disaster struck when her weight broke a tube that connected her cage to a little hamster platform above, and she was lost in the depths of my family’s basement. I swear at times I will still hear a quiet chewing or squeaking of the long gone Snickers.

A few months later, I got another hamster, this one named Albert Einstein. It was a tiny white thing, who I felt really embodied the German physicist. Well, after a few weeks Mr. Albert Einstein became Albey, and also became the mother to 11 hamster babies. I was pretty traumatized, but I felt that I did an excellent job of keeping those little guys alive. My first entrepreneurial move came once all the babies were fully grown, when I took them to be sold to the pet shop. (They all found good homes).

Anyway, in mid-March I received that hamster itch again, and on a rainy afternoon, after another boring zoom day, I took myself to the local PetSmart, and came home with a little friend. My hamster, Nutsack, has become a valued buddy during this time. When I get insanely jittery or lose focus in class, I will take him out and play with him, or feed him treats. By the end of the summer, I had grown so fond of him that I said to myself, “You know Arden, you’ve gotten really good with this small mammal thing.” So, after a few sleepless nights of scouring craigslist and the Hoobly classified ads, I found a ferret for adoption. I love my beautiful mischievous ferret, Patti, named after the rockstar, who shares New Jersey as a birth state. So here I am now, happily sharing my room with two rodents, and definitely enjoying it.

I’ve seen this itch for a new pet in quarantine come out in many people, from neighbors, teachers, classmates and strangers. To investigate this phenomenon, I’ve opened up the question to the larger Westtown community: Did you get a new pet over quarantine? Below are some remarks and stories from community members.

  • If you’ve ever seen sophomore, Melanie Flynn, running after her pet sheep on campus, you will be glad to know she helped birth 17 lambs last spring! She welcomes 6 surviving lambs into her flock of now 16 sheep. A fun anecdote from Melanie, “ I’m looking for homes for some of my sheep because I have way too many at the moment. I almost had a perfect home where I sent two of my sheep to befriend an alpaca, but then ended running around a neighborhood and getting the cops called on them.” I’m thinking my hamster itch might expand to sheep now! 
  • T. Emily Waller adopted a new kitten friend, who unfortunately had the flu when she was brought home (the kitten, not T Emily). Although Penelope, the new kitten, bounced back quickly, T. Emily’s two other cats caught the sniffles 🙁
  • T. Adam Salo brought home a new dog, Pickles, to join his family!
  • T. Kirristie Wills welcomed a new Poodle/Doberman puppy, a Dobiedoodle!
  • Zanzi Gunton, class of 2021, has welcomed a gecko who loves to pretend Zanzi’s fingers are worms.