“The demand has grown exponentially,” says Amber Burton, the founder and director of veterinary and rescue operations at Wolf Trap Animal Rescue in Virginia. She says that prior to the pandemic, if Wolf Trap brought in roughly 50 puppies and held adoption events, in about three weeks it could expect the majority of those puppies to have a home. Now it fields as many as 150 adoption applications within the first 24 hours of a virtual meet and greet with a new group of puppies. Block, too, is hearing of increased demand at lots of shelters for both adopting and fostering.

The wave of new interest in puppies is so intense that would-be puppy adopters can wind up applying multiple times and still not have a pet to take home. And while fostering is often a speedier option, for the first time ever, Wolf Trap has a waiting list—just to foster a pup—that stretches to about 200 people.

Obviously I get it. When you imagine untold weeks of pacing the same home and seeing and talking with the same limited number of people, or even just your own reflection, the idea of a cute, cuddly companion—one you can pet, take walks with, and talk to (with the added benefit of them not talking back)—is suddenly incredibly appealing.

And the truth is, having a puppy helps.