Families Welcome Pandemic Pets

Story by Michelle Rosen

If you spent any time perusing social media this spring, you most likely noticed the posts inviting you to “meet the newest addition to the family.” Inevitably what follows is an audible “awwww,” after viewing a photo of the cutest (insert animal here) you’ve ever seen! It became a national trend — pandemic pets — and Durham Academy Lower School families got in on the action.

Lingaa Venkataraja, a fourth-grader in Chip Lupa’s class, counted down the days until he officially adopted “Bhairavi,” a Shepsky. The Shepard/Husky mix, with one brown eye and one blue eye, was set to join the family on May 9. Lingaa said he couldn’t wait to have more company around the house. But the best thing about having a dog? “Well, the best thing is being able to pet it. You definitely can’t pet snails, fish or lobsters, and if I try to pet the parakeets, they will try to fly out or go crazy!”

For the Wootton family, the pet of choice was chickens. “We’ve been wanting new chicks because the other ones died,” said Kendall, a third-grader in Emily Walton’s class. “They are fun to chase and catch,” she said, but “hard to get in at night.” Kendall and her brother Conner, a first-grader in Rosemary Nye’s class, named the chickens Grady White, Sweet Potato, Lucky, Little Dude, Rascal and Snazzy.

No matter the pet, DA families have shown a lot of love this spring. Here’s to the newest Cavaliers and all the students and parents who have given them forever homes.


The Fitzpatrick household also has a new pet. Carrie Fitzpatrick, a fourth-grade teaching assistant, described the 8-week-old rescue, named Duck, as “sweet, curious, energetic, clumsy and fun!” Duck will be her son Michael’s dog when he moves back to college next year. For now, though, Michael ’17 is taking the time to bond and train the puppy. “Happy and chaotic” is how Fitzpatrick described her current family life with four dogs.

It’s not all about dogs! Fourth-grader Jackson Whaley and family rescued two adorable cats — Myrtle and Vergie. They join the rescue dogs who already live with them. “They were very skittish and wary of people, but we knew we had the love and time to give them a better life,” said Jackson’s mom, Morgan Edwards Whaley ’97. “We have had them less than a week now and they have started to warm up to us. They love being petted and playing with all their new toys, and even purr loudly when we walk into the room.”

Rose, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, joined Mercedes Almodóvar and family on June 1. The Lower School Spanish teacher says the dog was supposed to be a college graduation present for her daughter, Natalia ’17, next year. “Because we do not know what our future will look like, we talked as a family and made the decision to welcome Rose into our humble home,” Almodóvar said.

Meet Dylan, who found a new home with third-grader Hunter Freedman. Hunter already had one dog at home when his family decided to adopt Dylan. He said it’s great to have another playmate, but “because she’s a puppy, it’s a lot more work. She is learning to potty train so sometimes she has accidents in the house and I have to clean them up.” Cuddling, however, is the best, Hunter said.

Alex Shaikh, a fourth-grader, adopted Rolo and Angus. While acknowledging that taking care of pets is definitely a lot of work, Alex said it’s all worth it when he gets to hug them.

“It was just the right time,” said Lilly Motsinger, describing why she and her family adopted Magnolia, whom they lovingly call Maggie. The third-grader said there’s “hardly nothing that’s bad” about having a pet except cleaning up after it. “We went walking one morning and I had to pick up three! She’s a pooper!”

Fourth-grader Rem Frasher loves playing with his new pup, Rocky, whom he described as “energetic.” His family decided to adopt the dog because they now have time to train him. Rem said he’s really noticed how much Rocky has changed over the last month, but the biggest challenge is still “potty training.”

Life is “a lot funner now,” reported second-grader Sybil Luddington, now the proud owner of her Reggie. Reggie traveled from South Carolina to join the Luddingtons on March 28. Sybil likes taking Reggie for long walks, but prefers not to have to deal with the outside bathroom trips.

Fourth-grader Kayla Cloninger is excited about the latest addition to her family, a dog named Allison. “The best thing is how cute she is,” Kayla said. “The worst thing is how stubborn she can be.” Kayla’s parents thought Allison would keep Kayla busy as she spent more time at home. Their plan seems to be working. “I’ve been staying up really late since we got her!”