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Dog days in college

College can sometimes feel lonely for students, so they turn to pets for help. Even though the idea of being able to come home to a furry friend may sound appealing, it may not be the best option for students.

Over the summer Paige Klatt, assistant director of Prevention Education for the Office of Health Promotion, and her partner were asked to foster a dog from a student who found a stray puppy after a storm in June.

“We were told this dog is around six months old and supposedly had all their shots and everything up to date,” said Klatt. “They just needed to be spayed, that they were needing to find a home because their landlord just said it is no longer welcome.”

After taking the dog in, Klatt realized that the dog had severe separation anxiety, did not have all of its shots and was not crate trained as promised. Eventually, the new dog did not fit in with their current dog and cats.

“Because Cooper is my service dog, her separation anxiety was messing him up, and he could not focus on work and doing his job,” said Klatt

After surrendering the dog to the shelter, she became more confident and was eventually adopted, according to Klatt. Klatt had a severe case, but pets are a big responsibility and a lot goes into taking care of them. Balancing school and a pet may be more of a challenge than initially planned.

“You have to sacrifice some days, especially if you have a puppy,” said Sara Schroeder, a graduate student studying business administration. “There has been times when I have to cut my night short when I'm out because I have to go home and take care of Fred. I can't stay out until two in the morning and leave him all night.”

Schroeder adopted her Corgi puppy, Fred, over the summer so she could have more time to train and get used to him outside of classes. 

“When I was a grad student, I was like, ‘Okay, I have a little more free time,’” Schroeder said. “I'm a little more grown up. It gives me something to do taking him up here. People love seeing him and he's just a cute little boy.”

Students who have pets, especially dogs, find that their lives start to revolve around them. Dogs are typically higher maintenance than cats, so owners have to take time out of their day to check in on them.

“It is a lot of time commitment,” said Eliza Stoner, a junior studying psychology and sociology criminology. “When I schedule my classes, I have to sit there and think ‘Okay, well, how long is Blue going to be in the crate?’ Same with work. I have to make sure I have gaps throughout the day.”

Stoner adopted her puppy from the Athens County Dog Shelter last November after Blue was abandoned in a box with his littermates. Stoner works with Bobcats of the Shelter Dogs and knew she wanted to adopt. When it comes to students adopting dogs, she has some advice.

“Just make sure you are ready,” said Stoner. “I was impulsive, but I don't regret it by any means. And I knew what was coming at me, but at the same time, I got a puppy. So maybe get an older dog because this dog is with me for the next 10 years, maybe longer.”

Pets also live longer than a college career. Dogs have a lifespan of 10-13 years and a cat’s lifespan is 12-18 years. They are not just a one time fee, they need check ups from the vet, food, toys and more. Eventually it all adds up so students that consider a pet should think about their financial stability.

“It's hard because dogs can be really expensive too,” Schroeder said. “Knock on wood, he has never had to go to the vet for anything crazy, but even his food and his toys, he was expensive.” 


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