Pets Provide Comfort to Student-Athletes Amid Pandemic

The isolation of the COVID-19 Pandemic has been very real for many. Student-athletes have relied on their pets to ease the social isolation while staying socially distanced.

Coleman Stewart, a fifth year, and Olivia Calegan, a senior, both on the swimming and diving team were happily occupied by their dog, Henry. He “was a huge help for keeping us sane in quarantine! He made sure none of our days were the same as the one before and helped get us out of the house for his walks.” Additionally, their cat Josh also kept them entertained and warm with his cuddles! Henry is a 1 year old Treeing Walker Coonhound and Josh is a 2 year old tabby cat. 

Josh (left) and Henry (right)

New graduate Melissa Evans, from volleyball, found comfort in her kitten Nala to help cope during COVID-19. Nala gave her “something to keep me company while practicing social distance protocols and a reason to stay inside.” She explained that even when it gets hard to be inside and socially distanced, her kitten helps her stay motivated and entertained.

Nala

Dr. Kimberly Ange-van Heugten, an associate professor of teaching in animal science at NC State, explained that pets can certainly be helpful and reduce stress. She, an animal advocate, “thinks it’s great as long as you wanted a dog already.”

Adopting an animal is a long-term decision: “we need to remember the animals aren’t just here for us… we have to be there for them too.” So if you’re longing for a furry companion, make sure it’s a decision you see for yourself long term!

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