COVID-19 has changed everyone’s lives, but maybe none more than Oakley’s.

The seven-month-old Australian shepherd was scooped up by Cal Poly student Stephanie Goryl, who decided to adopt Oakley after finding the rambunctious pup on Craigslist. 

Goryl has had Oakley since March when she decided to adopt while working from home. Goryl originally got the Australian shepherd puppy during the stay-at-home order, and she now lives with Oakley in San Luis Obispo.

Goryl isn’t the only one who added a furry member to her family during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Carson Ogburn at Woods Humane Society in Atascadero, adoption rates have gone way up. Compared to last year the shelter is less filled, with only 15 cats and kittens total on site. This is a trend that is being seen with shelters, breeders and pet shops according to  The Washington Post.  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) data has estimated that there has been a 21% increase of animals living in poverty compared to pre-covid times, making this an ideal time for many to adopt or foster an animal.

For Goryl, the pandemic was the right time for her to choose to adopt. 

The responses in this Q&A have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What made you get Oakley?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I knew that I really wanted a dog, and I don’t think I would have gotten him if quarantine hadn’t happened. I just wouldn’t have had the time or anything. And I remember something happened one week and I was really upset, and then my parents are like, okay, fine, you can get a dog. Then, I was just kind of looking at Craigslist, just kind of like on and off. I saw him and went to go see the litter and ended up getting him. I don’t know if there was really a deciding factor.

How has having a dog changed your Covid experience?

Well, I think he makes me get out more, you know, like go on walks, especially when we were, really quarantining and really couldn’t go anywhere.

What made you decide to get a puppy instead of an older dog with training?

I actually wanted an older dog with training and I was having trouble finding one. It’s really hard to find a good dog that has been trained, especially from a shelter, that doesn’t have other issues. I was also having trouble with the shelter because I had a letter for housing that would let me have them, but they were like, “Oh, you can’t use that letter beforehand. You can only use it after you have the dog, so it’s not valid to get the dog with.” It was really weird, but getting a dog from a shelter was difficult, which is why I ended up getting him on Craigslist.

Was it difficult at all to train him?

I focus more on his manners than training tricks, and some of them were difficult. I ended up taking him to daycare for training It’s kind of weird, you can’t really get a trainer during covid because, you know, socially distanced and everything, so I take him to daycare. They would train him for an hour during daycare, and then afterward when I picked him up, they would show me what they did. So we did that for getting him to walk well on a leash and not jumping around, like that kind of thing. But he’s pretty good. He got “sit” down really well, he got “shake” down really well. He always just puts his paw up whenever he wants something because he just tries to shake.

Has adopting a dog changed any of your future plans?

Not really. I was already kind of planning on doing a gap year and then going to grad school. So that’s kind of still the plan.

Are you worried about finding a place to live that is dog-friendly after you graduate?

I have a letter for him to be able to live anywhere, so I’m not super worried about that. I’d be more worried about finding a place where he has room, and if I’m with roommates, having roommates that are okay with my dog.

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Video by Julia Kryzan

What has been the biggest challenge of adopting a dog?

I think the biggest challenge was that we had to fence in our yard because Oakley would go out the door and then just go wander around. I also feel like making it work with roommates because you don’t want them to feel burdened by him, but at the same time, it’s hard to not, you know, put a little bit on the roommates just because there is a dog in the house. I feel like that’s the most difficult part.

What is your favorite thing about having a dog?

He’s really good at cuddling. I feel like he kind of keeps me occupied and obviously with COVID, you can’t see that many people, so he kind of keeps you busy which is nice. He’s a good little boy, and he was really cute when he was a puppy.

Has it been difficult juggling school, work, and training a puppy?

I would say that the most difficult part is work because your shifts are like five, six, seven hours, so that’s seven hours where I’m gone and he’s just at home by himself. I’d say that’s the most difficult part, but juggling school and training haven’t really been an issue.

Has Oakley given you a sense of purpose during Covid?

Yeah, I feel like it definitely gives me a reason to go on walks and take him out and do more things. And he’s fun to have around. It kind of gives you like a little buddy, you know, that’s always there.

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