Four guinea pigs that were adopted in July from New Jersey Guinea Pig Rescue. (from L to R) Butter, Moo, Cookie, and Charlie are in training to become therapy guinea pigs says proud owner, Elizabeth Lynch ’90, DVM ’95.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked alumni to tell us about their pandemic pets—furry new additions who joined their Cornell families during the past year.
Since the start of the pandemic, many folks have taken advantage of their extended time at home to adopt a new pet. Shelter Animals Count, a nonprofit that tracks nearly 1,500 rescue organizations across the country, recorded 26,000 more rescue adoptions in 2020 than in 2019—a rise of about 19 percent. Participating shelters reported that many adopters said that the timing was perfect for welcoming a warm and fuzzy companion into their homes, and for training and bonding with their new pets.
When you can see him and hug him, he is the fluffiest, sweetest, most lovable creature!
—Laurie Gibson Lindberg ’79, Annandale, VA
Several Cornellians reached out to share photos of their newest family members, who have filled their homes with smiles, cuddles, and surprises over the course of the last year. We hope sharing a few of these pandemic pet stories and photos spreads the spirit of love, and that you enjoy them as much as we have!
Scroll through our Pandemic Pet Picture Gallery!
“This is Molly, our miniature Schnauzer. We brought her home in June, and she’s now about 9.5 months old. She’s high-energy, smart, and demands that you play with her. True to her terrier DNA, she’s a real ratter, having done away with at least three of the rodents in our back yard.” —Bill Barden MBA ’75, Allen, TX
“In late November we brought home the most incredible kitten, Schmiggity-Anne. She joins our two pugs, Chips and Salsa, and a rather independent brother cat, Schmibby, completing our furry family. Schmiggity-Anne is the perfect soft and cuddly companion, keeping me company while I sip my morning coffee in bed, playing with the other critters throughout the day, and snuggling in for TV-time in the evening. She has brought us a ton of joy and is just what the DVM ordered during the pandemic!” —Robin Geller Diamond ’81 and Ted Diamond DVM ’82, Amherst, MA
“We brought Cru home to NYC on January 30. He is an 8-week-old mini Bernedoodle (a mix between a Bernese mountain dog and a toy poodle). Both Zach and I took Wines 101 in the Hotel School, and our love of wine inspired us to name our dog Cru, which is a French wine term used for a vineyard of recognized or superior quality. Cru is loving NYC thus far (lots to see, lots to smell!), but since he’s a puppy, he’s not allowed to go for walks until he is fully vaccinated. As a result, we have repurposed our shopping cart as a Bernedoodle mobile.” —Jackie Ferri ’17 and Zach Lavin ’16, New York City, NY
“I invited a new kitten into my home in June; and then the year continued to be so challenging that I decided my KITTEN needed a kitten, and invited another one in in October. They adore each other and are little life-savers (I share photos and videos as ‘kitten therapy’ for friends and family). I challenge you not to smile when Cipi (short for Principessa) and her big buddy Spats (short for Spatterdash) are around!” —Joanna Upton ’14, Ithaca, NY
“That’s Seymour on the right, who joined us in April. He just turned one year old on January 31. He and his older sister, Maeby (on the left), are both Cavapoos. They are the sweetest dogs and have helped keep us sane during the pandemic.” —Bob Feinberg ’84, East Hampton, NY
“Meet Archie! He came to us from Arkansas through a wonderful rescue organization. We adopted him right after Christmas. He is a 2.5-year-old terrier mix and has settled in nicely to our family. Our favorite thing about Archie is how he loves to give kisses and snuggle!” —Lynn (Vitiello) Monaghan ’02, Framingham, MA
Mark Yanus ’89 and his fiancé Holly Jean Heidelberger ’90 knew they wanted a cattle dog or cattle dog mix. Mark adopted his first cattle dog from Oklahoma while he was finishing his veterinary degree. The couple began searching online, and Holly found a match through Petfinder.
“There was just something about her face and wiggly body that touched my heart,” Holly says. She reached out to the Humane Society of Cherokee County in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where Verbena was housed. Their adoption application was approved just prior to the start of the pandemic.
In March and April 2020, Holly kept up a correspondence with the adoption coordinator at the shelter, and she never gave up hope.
“I sent treats and toys through Amazon Smile for all the dogs and quickly got videos back of Verbena enjoying her new toys,” Holly says. “I was convinced that she was the right pup for us. Now I just had to figure out how to get her home!”
Holly did some research and figured out that she and Mark could safely drive to Oklahoma to adopt Verbena, while still abiding by the various state COVID-19 health and safety protocols. She pre-cooked their meals, and the couple set off on a 20-hour cross-country drive to retrieve Verbena.
Mark and Holly arrived in Oklahoma on April 24, where they met Verbena. “It only took a few moments to know she was just perfect for us!” Holly says.
The couple were feted in the local paper for their long-distance road trip. “We had become celebrities amongst the Humane Society staff,” Holly says, “as this adoption was from the farthest away ever!”
Since arriving home, Verbena has lit up the couple’s household and even made friends with their cat. “She has truly been a blessing, bringing smiles to everyone she meets,” says Holly.
Scroll through our Pandemic Pet Picture Gallery!
“Beau joined our family a couple of months ago. He was born on October 1, and turned four months old on February 1. This pic shows the handsome guy when he was 2.5 months old. He’s now over 40 pounds and LOVES the snow, chasing tennis balls, and playing tug!”—Lyn LaBar, associate director, Alumni Affairs and Student Programming, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
“Here is Zatana saying, ‘Just feed me already!’ I adopted Zatana to help provide companionship for my Aunt Penny, who lives in senior housing in Dryden, NY. Sadly, Zatana had been abandoned at the SPCA by someone who became homeless as a result of the pandemic. Zatana quickly adjusted to her new apartment and her cuddly new human. Aunt Penny helped to entertain her this summer and fall by placing a bird feeder on the window for her viewing pleasure.” —Cassandra Guarino ’04, PhD ’13, extension associate, Animal Health Diagnostic Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
“We adopted a three-month-old puppy a couple of weeks ago, a Samoyed called River. He is adorable and has already positively changed our family of four! River brings his company to our family, as some of us are otherwise alone in the house and unable to see our friends. He is always joyful and happy to be with us, and he follows us everywhere. He is a great topic of family conversation and an occasion to solve problems together, regarding his education, feeding, activities, and health. It gives my teenage boys a sense of responsibility and maturity to be able to care for him.” —Laurent F. Paty MBA ’95, Mouans-Sartoux, France
“We adopted two kittens, Cleo and Leo—sister and brother and best friends, back in April. Cleo, a Bombay cat, is named after Foxy Cleopatra, Beyoncé’s delightful character in the Austin Powers movie Goldmember. She has the softest fur imaginable. Leo, a tuxedo cat, is named after the West Wing TV show character Leo McGarry. He is very vocal and snores loudly. Our daughter, Ella Yitzhaki ’24, thoroughly enjoyed playing with the kitties every day of winter break. Getting them was definitely one of the best things we did in 2020!” —Laura Bloch ’88, San Francisco, CA
“As a vet school grad, my husband Chris Rodger MILR ’01 and I always have a lot of cats, but we had decided to allow attrition take us down to four cats. With the reduction in traveling this year, especially since we haven’t been taking weekend trips as members of the Traveling Faithful for both men’s and women’s hockey, we decided to go back to six cats to help some middle-aged animals in need. Here is one of them, Norman!” —Anne Richards DVM ’01, Chelmsford, MA
“Meet Yadi: an ink-black, Standard Poodle puppy named after Cardinals’ awesome catcher Yadier Molina. Yes, Yadi is an EXCELLENT catcher! We got him on March 21, and now he’s 13 months old. We take a million pictures, but he’s so black that he looks like a blob. At night, he melts into the shadows and you literally cannot see him. When you can see him and hug him, he is the fluffiest, sweetest, most lovable creature!” —Laurie Gibson Lindberg ’79, Annandale, VA