Many of us adopted furry friends over the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m one of those people. I fell in love with pit bulls when my ex had one. I hadn’t necessarily thought about wanting or getting one at that time, but when the coronavirus hit, I jumped on the puppy train.

I found PAWS Atlanta, a no-kill shelter in Decatur. PAWS was committed to finding me the perfect fit; they asked me personal questions about the dog I wanted and even took a virtual tour of my home. It was evident that they wanted the match to be as ideal for me as the dog I would be bringing into my life. I opted not to go the puppy route and knew that I wanted an older dog, since I live in a fairly small high-rise apartment. And with my work schedule, I knew I couldn’t commit to the responsibility of owning a puppy.

After a thorough matching process, I brought home Stella, a five-year-old pit bull. The connection was instant. Stella was the perfect companion. I now had someone to sit by my side as the days went by and as I adjusted to the new normal that was quarantine. She was perfect company during my first-ever home renovation project in Hilton Head, which took me away from Atlanta for a time. As a new pet owner, I have realized how much Stella gives back with her sense of calm, which helps me to stay grounded.

These days I try to bring her everywhere I go: restaurants, home improvement stores, and even on the construction site for my new home on the Westside. One thing that has come to light in my time with Stella is how truly inaccurate the stigma is against pit bulls. Most people who dislike pit bulls and who have met Stella have absolutely loved her. It makes me truly sad how people can generalize a breed and not allow them the chance to show how truly amazing they are.

As a gay man, having Stella is important to me — a sentiment often shared by my peers. If I wished to have children, it would be a difficult journey. We live in a country where barriers keep LGBTQ people and couples from adopting simply because of who we love. Surrogacy is a difficult and often expensive process. Adopting a dog allows us to fill the hole of parenting that is sometimes extremely out of reach.

The moral of the story: if you’re considering getting a dog and you are financially stable and emotionally stable enough to take care of one, do it. Having Stella in my life has been the biggest blessing, and I would not trade her for the world. The past year of quarantine — the masks, vaccines, you name it — has been extremely exhausting. We all deserve a furry companion to light up our days as Stella has mine.

Bennett is the founding chief sound editor and co-host of The Gayly Dose, an Atlanta-based podcast hosted by an all-gay cast. Unique in its mission and follow-on format, weekly episodes are known for their real conversations about things that matter to the community and their listeners. Purposefully candid and brutally honest, the cast speaks on a range of topics including monogamy, body issues, coming out, dating apps and growing up gay in the church. Listen at