Most people are looking for someone to greet them at the door after a long day of school, someone to cuddle with for a movie night and even someone's smiling face when they wake up in the morning. Although a relationship is hardly ever a bad thing, the ideal companion for these situations is a pet.
"My dog makes it so it's not so lonely at home, and I have someone to talk to," Jordin Bonds, a senior, said about her puppy Chanel as Chanel walked around her living room playing with a teddy bear.
"My favorite thing about her is her personality. She knows when I'm upset, she knows when I'm angry and she knows when I'm happy. Her personality and how she acts always reflects how I feel."
If you're looking to adopt a pet, there are four different organizations for pet adoption in Tuscaloosa – The Humane Society of West Alabama, TTown Paws, Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter and ADAR Animal Rescue. The steps for adopting pets are similar at each location, including an application process, adoption fees and vet visits.
Some of these steps may seem a little extreme for adopting a pet, but many people do not realize just how big of a responsibility having a pet is. Not unlike many roommates you'll have in college, pets require feeding, constant attention and cleaning up after.
"The hardest part of getting Chanel was training her to act acceptable in public," Bonds said. "You have to have the time to train them to not jump on or lick people, and to be able to tell you what they want or need."
Instead of adopting Chanel from a local adoption agency, she bought her from someone who had posted a classified on Tuscaloosa Classifieds. She decided to find her dog online because of all the steps it takes to adopt a dog. "You might start the process and not get your dog until six weeks later," she said.
One benefit to adopting a dog from the shelters, however, is that there are many options of dogs to choose from, if you don't feel you have the time to train a puppy, you can adopt an older dog. If you want a dog that will never stop playing with you, you can adopt a puppy. Sometimes if you wait for the perfect dog to come up on the classifieds or CraigsList, you'll end up waiting for a longer time than the time it would take to adopt.
Whether you choose to adopt your pet or buy from someone else, there are many considerations to take into account. The first is the money commitment that it takes to have a dog or a cat. According to Bonds, the food isn't what gets expensive, it's the shots and vet bills. She said the real investment in deciding to get a pet is the time investment.
"Make sure that you have the time to give them a lot of attention, especially if it's a puppy that's not trained. You have to be able to spend lots of time training them and you have to be patient," she said. "But if you're motivated and want that companionship with a pet, then you will really make the time even if you don't have it."
When Bonds first moved to Tuscaloosa, she had a cat instead of a dog and said it was a completely different experience.
"If you don't have the time for a puppy, consider getting an older dog or a cat," she said. "Cats are not as attached to you. They are a lot easier because you don’t have to take them outside, you really just have to feed them and clean the liter box, which does get disgusting."
If you do choose to adopt your pet, a final consideration is whether or not your rental company allows pets. If you are a renter, the adoption agencies will check with your apartment or house to insure you are allowed to have pets. Most popular apartment complexes in Tuscaloosa require you to pay a pet deposit in your lease.
Bonds joked that she knew a good way to figure out if you were ready for a dog or not: "Everyone should start out with a caged animal; if you can make a hamster live more than a year then you can handle a dog."
For anyone looking for a dog to adopt, Her Campus Alabama will feature a stray of the month that profiles a dog and cat looking for a good month. The April Stray of the Month will be up next week!