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There’s no doubt that many Bryn Mawr students––myself included––are struggling right now.  Being uprooted in the middle of the semester due to a pandemic is an unexpected and jarring event, and getting adjusted to life at home (or wherever you find yourself) can prove to be an emotionally difficult process.

While it’s important to appropriately grieve lost time and memories on campus, it’s also helpful to have some strategies for brightening your spirits and keeping yourself distracted.  One of the best ways to do so is to browse through heartwarming animal Instagram accounts––many of which have kept me smiling during this uncertain time. Here’s a collection of some of the inspiring rescue organizations and adorable pets that you’ll wish you could pick up and squeeze!

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, @ofsds

This nonprofit animal rescue group was founded in 2012 by Zina and Michael Goodin, two semi-retired mechanical engineers searching for a passion project.  Since then, their mission to take in older dogs from five local Tennessee shelters––many of whom would otherwise be euthanized due to the unwillingness of adoptees to take home pets that require expensive veterinary care––has exploded online.  The couple capitalizes on the intensity with which followers adore their dogs, selling merchandise in order to fund the exorbitant costs associated with caring for the animals and operating the sanctuary. The organization averages $17,000 in vet bills each month, but one shirt featuring Leo, one of the most popular dogs, has raised more than $93,000 for the organization alone.  Be sure to check out their account––it’s impossible not to fall in love with their elderly cohort.

Jill the Squirrel, @this_girl_is_a_squirrel

When Hurricane Issac tore through Louisiana, a family discovered a young squirrel that had been repeatedly thrown from its nest.  In order to protect the baby from harm, they decided to take her in until the storm had run its course. However, the squirrel quickly grew attached to the family, and a return to the wild was no longer feasible.  Jill the Squirrel now lives happily as a pet, with free reign of the house and a family that adores her. Follow for videos of Jill munching on her favorite veggies, playing with miniature toys, or drifting off to sleep while wrapped up in a plush blanket.

Dustin and Swarley, @prairiedogpack

Dustin and Swarley are two spoiled prairie dogs who live in Houston, Texas.  In most photos they’re front and center, snuggling or dressed up in elaborate outfits––but they also have play dates with other unconventional pets, such as @grannythefox.  Watching two tiny prairie dogs receive the royal treatment is a gift that keeps on giving, and photos of the pair enjoying time at the beach never fail to make me smile.

Juniper and Fig, @juniperfoxx

With foxes, chinchillas, sugar gliders, a dog, an opossum, and more––Jessika Coker has a lot of responsibility on her hands.  She uses her platform not only to showcase the cute faces of her unique pets, but to display the ugly and chaotic side of caring for wild animals in a home environment as well.  Coker saved Juniper and Fig from fur farms, where the domesticated foxes would have been killed, and is proactive about sharing the joys and downfalls associated with caring for such a high-demand group of animals.  She perfectly balances cute videos and educational content, emphasizing the fact that her pet foxes still have wild inclinations––and that seeking them out is much more complicated, dangerous, and inadvisable than people realize.  Give her a follow, and you’ll have a robust, accurate reserve of fox-related knowledge within a month!

Avery Matteo

Bryn Mawr '22

Avery Matteo is a junior at Bryn Mawr College from Charlottesville, Virginia. Her interests include reading, traveling, and sleeping during every available moment. In her free time, she is either listening to podcasts, indie music, or sprinkling Disney Parks facts on her unsuspecting friends. She can be found as @memeteo on Instagram.
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