Lake’s arrival in the Varella family

“With all the events of the last year and distance from family and friends due to the lockdown, I felt very lonely. I've always had a dog in Brazil and I know how good animals are in our lives. That's when I decided I wanted a pet, a pet, a pet dog.” (Marina Varella)

Translation by Rosemary Baptista (original in Portuguese)

Marina and João Varella with Lake, Springer Spaniel breed, that “arrived” to cheer up the family.

Dogs and cats provide important emotional support to their owners. Anyone who has a pet knows this well! Loyal and generous, they share your company and offer love and affection to children and adults. These affectionate expressions from pets towards their owners offer a feeling of emotional comfort and warmth.

Thus, more and more people are looking for the company of a pet to give and receive affection and attention. Recent data show that they are increasingly occupying the lives of Canadians and Brazilians.

In Canada, 58% of families have at least one pet, be it a dog or cat. This shows in the Canadian Animal Health Institute’s Pet Population Survey 2020.

In Brazil, through decades, pets are also part of many homes. Data from the National Health Survey conducted by IBGE in 2019 indicate that 48 million Brazilian households (about 67%) have at least one dog or cat.

Brazilian couple Marina and João Varella left Brazil to live in Canada three years ago. Although motivated and committed to change, the experience of the lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the longing for family and friends who stayed in Brazil. The couple decided to adopt a pet, the nice little dog Lake.

“With all the events of the last year and distance from family and friends due to the lockdown, I felt very lonely. I’ve always had a dog in Brazil and I know how good animals are in our lives. That’s when I decided I wanted a pet, a pet, a pet dog.” (Marina Varella)

Lake is a very cute puppy. At just a few months old, this Springer Spaniel puppy “has arrived” to cheer up the family! Now, at Marina and João’s house, there’s only Lake!

If you’re thinking about having a pet, it’s worth reading the following interview. With brilliance and enthusiasm, Marina brings us a set of good information, very seasoned with a good dose of emotion. A delight to read!

In a relaxed chat, Marina Varella tells us about the entire process of Lake’s arrival at the house, in the city of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. It all started when she decided to accept her desire to have a puppy. Also, she talks about the adjustments they had to make in the budget, in the routine and in the spaces in the house in order to welcome the puppy. It ends up radiating affection and recognition for the puppy who is now the newest member of the Varella family.

Ana C. – Why have a pet, a pet?

Marina Varella – With all the events of the last year and distance from family and friends due to the lockdown, I felt very lonely. I’ve always had a dog in Brazil and I know how good the animal does in our lives. That’s when I decided I wanted a pet, a pet dog.

João, my husband, was resistant at the beginning, as we were in a moment of changing apartments. Also, he was finishing college and writing a lot of exams. Still, I went on the hunt. The initial idea was to adopt a puppy.


Ana C – You, first, tried to adopt a pet. How was your experience?

Marina Varella – I started by researching sites where I could apply for the adoption of a puppy that had the most suitable profile for us: medium-sized, calm and that didn’t bark. After all, we live in an apartment.

The adoption of pet puppies here in Canada is very interesting. Here, there are no stray dogs, like in Brazil. Therefore, many are brought from countries such as Mexico and the Bahamas. Dogs abandoned there are rescued and brought to Canada for adoption. So, in the adoption process, the pet is temporarily with a family, for behaviour analysis and veterinary care. Afterwards, even if we adopt, there is a fee that we must pay to help the volunteers work, which is around Can$500.

We made several requests to two associations here in St. Catharines and that’s when I realized that adoption is very difficult. I know a volunteer from an association and he told me they were getting over 100 applications per dog. Thus, whoever fits the profile best is called for an interview. Usually, the preference is for those who have children, already have animals and live at home, which was not our case.


Ana C – Was buying a pet an option?

Marina Varella – Yes. Seeing that the adoption was not going to happen, I decided to start researching sales sites. I confess that I was scared of the prices! I never thought of choosing an animal for the price. Unfortunately, some breeds I liked were out of the question. After all, how would we pay $7,000 for a pet? It was out of our budget.

Ana C – But when the universe conspires in favour, things happen! How did puppy Lake get to you?

Marina Varella – Still motivated to adopt a puppy, one day I saw a publication offering a Springer Spaniel. I didn’t know this breed, but I associated it with Cocker. The puppy was not from a kennel, no. It was from an elderly couple who were selling their puppies in Belleville. And when we went to get our pet, it was really cool to see how the first owners were loving it. We named it Lake.

Then, when we were already home, we found out that the English Springer Spaniel was not the Cocker Spaniel. In fact, Cocker originated from him. The English Springer Spaniel is bigger and has a lot of energy. Just the opposite of what João and I were looking for, which was a calm pet (laughs).

Ana C – Having a puppy in the family is very nice, but it also requires effort, patience and expenses. How is this life adaptation being for you?

Marina Varella – Lake arrived to shake our lives. He is from a hunting race, so energy is not lacking! Hectic, needs attention and a lot of walking! We even had to buy a fence here for the apartment. That’s so he can have a nice space and, when he’s alone, not destroy the rest of the house.

He is very needy, so he always likes to be close to us, with physical contact. From our part, as he is so small, we always want him on our lap. He barks a little too, but it’s more attention-grabbing. For this reason we hired a trainer, who gave us many tips. So, Lake is more and more relaxed.

But I, who am the “mother”, am the thinnest one, as he still bites me a lot because of teething. Even though he has several toys, even though I give him ice, he often prefers my hand. And it hurts a lot!

After he arrived, we met 4 more like him in the neighborhood. And all the owners say we made the best choice, because the breed is very loyal and affectionate animals! So… we are learning patience, but we are sure it had to be him! It made our lives lighter and more fun.

Ana C – So now there’s only Lake, right?

Marina Varella – Lake is a passionate puppy! Everyone who knows him is enchanted! Lake loves to eat carrots and enjoys swimming and playing with children and other dogs. He even loves going to a dog park here in St. Catharines to make new friends.

We even made an Instagram account to share him with our families in Brazil. And we found that there’s a big dog community out there, too. It’s really cool to see the adult Springer Spaniel dogs and imagine what Lake will look like in a few years. His colours are liver and tan white, but his paws look more like chocolate chip ice cream!


More from Lake: Instagram @lakethedog