FARGO — Jessi Kappes and Colton Armstrong spent part of the rainy morning on Sunday, Sept. 27, playing with Panini, their 3-year-old dog.

The couple made the decision to adopt her one year before COVID-19 hit.

"(Panini's) a lot of work, it's a lot more than we expected," Kappes said. "She came with a couple of behavioral issues that we weren't expecting."

Armstrong said Panini became really important as soon as the uncertain times came.

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"She's been just kind of that rock, that grounding of our consistency before and post-COVID-19," he said.

Back in March, Armstrong was still regularly working at his job, while Kappes had to work at home for her job at a law firm, and Kappes said having Panini around was vital to keep her stress down.

"Just having her home with me really helped my state of mind, gave me something to look forward to, a break to take throughout the day just to work on her tricks," she said.

While Kappes and Armstrong are just one pet family who have chosen adoption, animals at the Homeward Animal Shelter are also finding more homes than last year around this time.

Heather Klefstad greets one of the dogs housed in the Homeward Animal Shelter in Fargo. Tanner Robinson / WDAY
Heather Klefstad greets one of the dogs housed in the Homeward Animal Shelter in Fargo. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Heather Klefstad, the shelter's marketing director, said over 650 animals have been adopted this year, compared to 600 last year, and she's also seen an increase in fostering animals.

"It's so rewarding to find these animals the loving homes they deserve, and no matter the number we have out there, we're going to continue to rescue and re-home them," she said.

With most things still being uncertain, both Armstrong and Kappes believe having a furry friend by your side has made life feel a little more certain.

"(Panini) definitely brings us some peace of mind when it's kind of crazy out in the world," Kappes said.