Since lockdown was announced in March there has been a huge surge in sales for dogs. According to Direct Line, 5.7 million pets were bought between the months of March and September, with 2.2 million of them being dogs. With this rise in demand, came a rise in price, with Dogs Trust announcing that there has been an 89% increase in the price of some breeds.

We spoke to Ella who has recently bought a corona companion to find out a little bit more about the process. Ella and her family got the puppy whilst they were under Tier 2 restrictions in London in October.

The interview

Q: What breed of dog did you get and what have you named her?

A: We got a female Working Cocker Spaniel and we have named her Lily. She is officially classified as red colour, but we actually think she’s more on the golden side. She is currently only 10.5 weeks old so is still very small and cute!

Q: Why did you and your family want to get a new dog? Would you have got her now if there wasn’t a lockdown or coronavirus restrictions?

A: We had been planning on getting a new dog for a while because our other dog Clover is getting quite old and we wanted to give her a friend that would hopefully keep her young (it hasn’t made a difference so far). In 2019 we had discussed as a family that we would look into getting a puppy for the spring of 2020, but then corona and lockdown struck and the prices of puppies soared. We thought we would try and wait it out and get a puppy once things started opening back up again, but it got to a point where the prices just didn’t seem to be going down. We decided that we would just go for it now as we don’t know how long corona and lockdown will last – it could be years! It was also the best time for us to get a puppy as we are all at home and have the time to look after a new puppy.

Q: Was it difficult to get your puppy? Was there an element of rush or competition?

A: Yes, it was very difficult. My parents decided to get on registered websites such as The Kennel Club and Pets4Home as they had heard all sorts of stories of people being scammed. They set up alerts and got notifications when new puppies were posted, but the competition was crazy! Puppies would be posted before they were even born and people would shotgun them so quickly. It took a good two months of properly searching before we managed to secure Lily.

Q: Were you able to visit the puppy before buying her?

A: Because of restrictions, we were unable to visit her before buying her. The seller posted ‘a litter of six’ and when we inquired about them, they only had two left. Of the two left, we chose Lily because of her colouring. The other puppy was black and white like our previous dogs and we wanted something different. We were sent lots of pictures and videos of the litter and we arranged a video call so that we could virtually meet Lily before putting our deposit down.

Q: Did the price increase massively? Were you expecting to pay less?

A: She definitely cost much more than she would have in a pre-corona world. Clover, our other dog, is the same breed. We bought her 10 years ago for £800. A year ago, a Working Cocker Spaniel puppy would have gone for between £850-1500, but we bought Lily for £2500. It was rare to see a puppy of her breed for cheaper, and if you did, you would worry about why it was so much cheaper. We also wanted a female dog because that is what we’ve always had, which made the hunt that little bit narrower.

Q: What was the exchange process like?

A: The exchange process was very quick and simple. My parents drove to pick her up and the exchange took place outside in the garden, which meant social distancing was easily maintained.

Q: What is the hardest part about getting a dog during these strange times?

A: The fact that none of our friends can come and meet the puppy is very upsetting as that is always one of the most exciting parts of getting a new puppy. Also, vet trips have been a bit sad because you can’t be in the same room as her and the vet during check-ups and vaccinations. My mum could hear her squealing but wasn’t able to comfort her. Other than that, it’s actually probably been easier to have a dog now because we have much more time on our hands!

Q: Are you glad you did it?

A: Definitely! It’s a lot of work but very worthwhile. She’s a beautiful and lovely dog and hopefully we will get Clover and her to properly bond in the next few months. I’m enjoying getting to spend extra time with her and being able to train her to the best of our ability. If we weren’t under all these restrictions, I probably would have missed out on more of her puppy days.

Q: Are you worried about Lily getting separation anxiety once life goes back to normality?

A: In all honesty, no. My parents are close to retiring and can work from home quite easily so we are quite fortunate that the puppy will probably always be with someone. We have also purchased her a UBEE CITY GPS tracker so that we can keep an eye on her and be notified if she ever escapes. It just gives us that extra peace of mind. We are very lucky that separation anxiety won’t really an issue for us but we do feel for those who aren’t in a similar position.