Teaching Love in the Time of Coronavirus

An adopted puppy shows two classrooms and a community the greatest lesson of all.

Cristy + Beth

During the COVID-19 quarantine, an adopted puppy named Beth helps bring two high school classes and a community together.

"While the world's future might be uncertain, the beautiful chaos that is a 6 a.m.-toy-squeaking-sometimes-gassy puppy grounds us to the simple joys around us every day."

Who says you can’t find love in quarantine? As two high school teachers in Brooklyn who hadn’t seen their students in months, meeting Beth during the height of COVID-19 was like the first sip of morning coffee on a cool fall day. Ever since her fosters turned the corner to our home with Beth’s nose sticking out the window, our lives have never been sunnier. She is the most highly regarded guest lecturer during our Zoom classes, frequently teaching the kids the biology of her stuffed dinosaur, cracking jokes about the cats next door, and delivering puns like Beth Cab for Cutie faster than the Petco box is delivered to our front door.

Beth’s spirit has broken more than digital and city boundaries — she has no less than nine neighbors in the three-block neighborhood who consider her their best friend. Just ask Ana, a nurse at the local urgent care; or Walter, the building superintendent next door; or Tuesday, the black cat with the white spot on its forehead. 

Beth has truly energized us, our students, and our neighborhood, and has given us a chance to bond with our community in a multifaceted way. She gives us motivation to be in the beautiful outdoors, from hiking the trails at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation to visiting the dog park run at Maria Hernandez in Bushwick. On hikes with her best friend Della, she frequently looks back to see if she needs to stop to give her a chance to catch up (Della has some short legs). Hilariously, while Beth may be a ginormous 9-month-old puppy, she always lies down flat on her back when a small dog comes close to make sure they are comfortable and feel safe. Her pack mentality is not that of a leader or a follower, but a paw-tner. 

While the world’s future might be uncertain, the beautiful chaos that is a 6 a.m.-toy-squeaking-sometimes-gassy puppy grounds us to the simple joys around us every day.

Each year, the Petco Foundation Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Cristy won Muddy Paws Rescue in Long Island, New York a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.