Throughout this past year, we have spent more time in our homes than we could have imagined. During our in-house “safety hibernation” we may have felt levels of loneliness that seemed unbearable.
But for some of us, we were never really alone.
Whether it was a furry friend or swimming in a tank, animals can help alleviate stress.
As we navigate towards a post-Covid lifestyle, the Bulletin wanted to showcase some unsung heroes that were with us during the pandemic. Whether they have gorgeous gills or are fantastically four-legged, these pals that helped us stay sane during the trying times deserve their accolades for supporting us through our virtual academic year.
Iracema Navarro, Senior Editor – Nina
When I lost my dog Sparkle at nine, I promised never to have another pet. The pain of losing my companion was unbearable and I didn’t want to feel that again. So high was my barrier that it prevented my little sister from having a pet.
Not until she was in eighth grade four years ago, she had bad grades and was promised a pet if she passed and graduated.
The day came to see her report card and I didn’t know how to feel, she passed the eligibility to graduate. But she got a kitten, an animal we have never cared for when seeing in the streets and all our perceptions were negative. I resisted the kitten, I wanted to despise her but hearing her cry for food, the restroom, or attention shoved those feelings aside.
Now at the age of four, Nina Navarro is family. She is well-fed, left alone when sleeping, has one-third of the room for herself, and has health insurance. My pet has health insurance, but my 30-year-old sister does not. She has an intuitive feeling when I feel alone or when I need a break. Throughout quarantine, she has been giving me breaks that I need to keep sane during this environment and for that, I will always be in debt to her.
Taylor Helmes, Editor-in-Chief – Golden Panda Molly, Spot, Cosmo, Wanda, Sharky, and Baby Blue
At night when it’s dark and late-night commercials drone on, instead of going on my phone or channel flicking I look over at the fish tank my boyfriend spontaneously brought home one day. Watching the fish interact and chase each other is entertaining, and simple. Since they’re homecoming, we have lost two fish from that first generation.
Then after a tank cleaning, we lost our beloved GloShark, which is a member of the minnow family and not actually a “shark.” But we got another one, one with a pink body and red fins, so fingers crossed it makes it through another tank cleaning. Now, we have six fish between two tanks, the GloShark, three Tetra Glofish, a Lyretail Golden Panda Molly, and a tri-colored spotted guppy.
They continue to put up a fight and swim around the artificial neon green kelp and seagrass and manufactured driftwood arch. They don’t know what COVID-19 is or that it’s altered our lives immensely, but they survived the trip from the pet store to a new tank. They’re survivors, regardless of the environment or circumstances.
Jeremy Gonzalez, Co-Sports Editor – Bruce
The first family dog we had passed away when I was just 3 years old, so I was never familiar with him. But when my sister and I agreed to split the responsibility of a dog, I became ecstatic since this would officially be my first furry companion. We got our English bulldog, Bruce in 2014 when he was just two months old and I instantly became best friends with him. I take him to the dog beach and out to lunch occasionally where we both enjoy delicious meals.
A majority of Bruce’s responsibilities were handed to me once my sister gave birth to my nephew and her focus was now on him, which I had no issue with.
Now he and I are inseparable, spending every moment together when we can, especially during the stay-at-home order of the pandemic. When I step out and come back, he greets me with excitement and joy. He’s been there for every good and bad moment I’ve had in the last seven years and I wouldn’t trade my best friend for any other pet on this planet.
Matt Barrero, Co-Sports Editor – Tommy, Lucy and Stanley
In my 27 years of life, this is the first time I have felt stress every day for a full year (thanks COVID). From avoiding a deadly disease on top of taking courses remotely for my major, the walls of my house, and more specifically my bedroom, became more confined as days rolled by.
Thankfully, in those moments where I felt like saying “screw it,” I turned to my canine and feline friends for comfort and cuddles.
From their goofy grins and relaxed purring, these three animals provided instant stress relief without them even realizing it.
Tommy was my first dog, and though he is gone now, he started the pandemic with me and we were the closest we had ever been in the 13 years he was with us. Lucy the cat is 17 and radiates an aura of a grandmother; she’s always there when you need her. And then there’s Stanley, the newest addition to our humble home. This three-month-old pup has been a jolt of fresh energy for a family that truly needed it. They will never understand what I’m saying, but to each of them, I say thank you.
Lafie Bradford, Staff Reporter – Sub-Zero
Our family pet is no ordinary betta fish, it’s a survivor, like me. We call this fish Sub-Zero, a.k.a SB. We’ve had him for about two years now and it has been nothing but amazing times that extemporaneously blows your mind beyond belief. I’m not a pet person, I am considered the pet killer in my family.
I consider myself to be honored to have him by my side and he helps me realize that I am a loner, too, but there are others like me. I find it remarkable that the only way he could have a friend is with a human being and the only way I could have a loyal and genuine friend is with a fish. We don’t argue and we agree on everything. I didn’t know a fish could be so fun and understanding.
Also, he is a great listener. I share with him all of my concerns and he is patient with me. On occasion, it brings me comfort to embrace my feelings about SB.
Our situation is solid. It’s unbelievable that I feel this way about a fish and he chose me.
This is the only fish I’ve felt a connection to. He is special because he is a Betta fish, which is a Siamese fighting fish, that lives in freshwater found in most Asian waters like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. He doesn’t have any friends because he constantly fights other fish, potentially to death.
We used to have two betta fishes, Sub-Zero, a male, and Phoenix, a female. But due to their feisty nature, Phoenix succumbed to her injuries and died. Now it’s me and SB. Sub-Zero is special to me, he is my best friend forever.
Brenda Fernanda Verano, News Editor – Ophelia
Ophelia, my cat was found in an alley, alone after days of being born. This cat that fit in the palm of my hand was so small and skinny, I thought she was not going to make it through that first night. That was probably one of the few times I have genuinely prayed, I was praying for her life.
At the beginning of the pandemic, she would be my reason to get out of bed. The pandemic didn’t just bring in mask and social distancing but it also brought a lot of isolation.
As an only child of divorced parents, I thought I had mastered being alone, because I enjoy my own company but I also love people dearly, and this was different.
Going from seeing friends every week (sometimes multiple times a week) to not seeing them for months and now seeing them two or three times a month, has been hard, but Ophelia has always been there. She curls up in my legs while I get through Zoom classes, or while I stay up doing homework.
She’s seen me cry when getting dumped, and she’s seen me cry even harder when I can’t find her and think she’s run away. She’s been there as I lay sick, as I kiss her from excitement, as I live and grow. I’m forever grateful for coinciding in this life with her.
Carlos Martinez, Web Editor – Honey
The phrases “Man’s best friend” or “one of the family” have always felt foreign to me whenever I see someone bond closely to their pet.
Growing up, I had to force myself to not get attached as a revolving door of cats, dogs, turtles and rabbits came and went out of life due to financial and housing issues. With the fears of having to say goodbye as soon as saying hello, I did my best to stay emotionally distant to lessen the blow of being separated from my newly four-legged-best friend.
It was in the middle of the pandemic, two weeks before the 2020 fall semester, when I was struggling with maintaining mental health after spending months socially distancing myself from family and friends. My sister brought an unexpected visitor from my aunt’s home in Victorville that goes by the name of Honey Kyo Tangerine.
Inexperienced with taking care of cats, or a month-old kitten for that matter, I was prepared to stay distant for the sake of having to go through separating from another animal. What made Honey different from the other pets was how each of us bonded with him in different ways.
My mother, who had verbally disdained the idea of having a feline in her home, has gotten attached to Honey in a mother-son relationship and my sister began to learn the responsibilities of pet ownership while making sure he was living a healthy lifestyle. Honey has also become a nocturnal mischievous buddy that waits for me at the balcony when I get home late from work at night and curls around my legs when I’m working on assignments for school at 3 a.m.
Although he can be a little crazy and annoying at times, Honey has become the best friend that we need in a year of uncertainty.
Darlene Maes, Managing Editor – Baby Teddy
Right as the COVID-19 pandemic made its mark at California State University, Dominguez Hills so did my best friend. In Spring 2020 the Bulletin’s staff and its readers were introduced to my little sidekick, “Baby Teddy.”
A little over a year later, he has made his mark not just as the cute little toro in an award-winning newspaper, but in my heart as my adorable haven during this tiresome year. It has been so much fun watching him spend his days having fun doing things his friends at the Bulletin staff have suggested.
But even at his cutest, “Baby Teddy” always made me proud by discussing topics that were important not only to him but to his friends and the CSUDH community. The pandemic contained so many obstacles, but the greatest joy I’ve had during all the chaos is watching my best friend be embraced by everyone. I know he is so excited for the future and to be at commencement with the Bulletin staff, and so am I.