ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — In a year setting records for pet adoptions, a Rosemount neighborhood is hound zero.
Within three blocks on the eastern edge of the city, 18 families have welcomed new puppies into their homes since COVID-19 restrictions began in March.
“This is a pup-side to the pandemic,” Natalie Albers, who lives in the neighborhood, says.
Albers is the unofficial keeper of the puppy count, which includes five new pups in one cul-de-sac.
“This has just been a really tough year for a lot of people, but this is one thing that has just been a bright spot,” Albers says.
One block over from Albers, Pete Eklund’s kids finally won over their reluctant dad after years of badgering. A Havamalt puppy named Bandit arrived on April 20.
“It’s hard to imagine life without him,” Eklund now says. “I never thought I would say that, but he’s grown on me quite a bit. I love the little guy a lot.”
The surge means plenty of puppy playmates for new arrivals. Stanley and Ace, two puppies with adjoining backyards, gleefully meet each day for exuberant play.
“At six in the morning, it’s dark, and Stanley is by the back door ready to play. He whimpers, like ‘C’mon, let me go, I want to see him.’ Caryn Birr, Stanley’s owner, says.
Ace, a Golden Retriever, is the first dog to join the Murphy family.
“It kind of felt right,” 8-year-old Laura Murphy says, “because it’s like during COVID, so there’s really nothing else to do except that.”
One of the neighborhood’s more recent arrivals is a Maltese-Shih Tzu mix named Lulu, the first dog for the Gebeyehu family.
“We didn’t think that would be doable, but now with COVID we are all home,” Tad Gebeyehu, the father of two teenagers, says. “It’s just like babies again, just raising our kids, it’s almost the same.”
Recently, Albers gathered the puppies together in a neighborhood park for a photos and video.
Smallest to largest, they stood as follows: Lulu, Coco, Charlotte, Stanley, Bandit, Jager, Teddy, Sonny, Ace, Buxton, Bailey, Nacho, Ranger, Socks and Dakota.
Two other neighborhood pups, Bear and Macy were unable to make it.
Another, Mayze, arrived at her new home a couple weeks after the gathering.
"They’re still coming,” Michelle Fischbach, Mayze’s owner, laughs.
As for Albers, the mother of three has resisted the pleas of her children to add to the puppy pack.
“So, like every week we write dog on the grocery list,” Graham Albers, Natalie’s 11-year-old son, says.
Graham and his two brothers may be making progress. “I will admit that they are wearing us down,” their mother says.