5 Reasons Why Pets Are Good For You

When I first moved out of my mom's house for college and into my own apartment, the two things I missed the most were my two dogs. I had to leave them behind when I moved because my apartment didn't allow dogs, my partner had allergies, and I thought I wouldn't have time for my pets. I was about to start college while working a part-time job an hour away from where I lived. I expected hours-long assignments my freshman year and late nights at my workplace. I wasn't wrong, I realized, and I started to become miserable.

My apartment wasn't large by any means. It was just big enough for my significant other and I to live in and it fit our budget nicely. However, money tends to cause stress. I grew lonelier by the day because I didn't know anyone at my college even though it was fairly close to my hometown. My closest friends were either too young to be in college or lived too far away for me to visit regularly. I played video games online, but it's a completely different environment from sitting with your friends at lunch during high school. School started to get more difficult as well. My workplace was also pretty hectic, so by the time I'd get home from work around 10 or 11 o'clock at night, I was ready to shower and just go to bed, ignoring real socialization with my partner or finding enjoyment in my hobbies.

After several long, stressful months, my significant other and I decided to try and adopt a dog of our own, despite what our landlord had said before. Unfortunately, as much as we loved the dog we kept for a week, we had to return her with tears in our eyes because of her anxiety issues. Our theory about not being home enough to take care of a dog seemed to be true at that point.

During my first year of college, I had a habit of constantly looking for ads for dogs. I never really intended on getting a new one after my failure to adopt the previously mentioned dog. I also wasn't planning to find more animals because my other two pets were always on my mind and I regretted not having a pet-friendly apartment to keep them in. However, there was one night during the summer of 2015 that I stumbled upon an online newspaper ad for miniature schnauzer puppies. This was great for me and my partner because I missed having my pooches around and he could only be around hypoallergenic animals. After consideration, we couldn't pass it up. We drove for several hours the next morning to bring home a puppy. That puppy is still with me today and has been one of the greatest loves of my life.

If you're able to get a pet and are still trying to make a decision, maybe some of the reasons below will persuade you.

  1. Animals are great company. If you talk to yourself on a daily basis, having a pet to complain to, compliment, or have a one-sided conversation with can make you feel much less alone when you're stuck at home. Also, walking into your home and seeing your pet notice your existence with excitement can be such a pick-me-up sometimes.
  2. Taking care of something/someone is good for you. Having a pet can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. This could be because pet owners become less lonely or become happier from watching something grow into a healthy creature. I guess I personally enjoy watching both my basil plant and my dog grow up successfully.
  3. Dogs are great for protection and socializingHave you ever seen a dog-walker and had the urge to run up and say, "Hello, can I pet your dog?" Lots of people do, so dogs can be gateways to making new connections with strangers. If that's not your thing, then some dogs are also great at defending their owners. Whether you're at home or on a jog, your dog can deter criminals from attacking when they see your brave pet.
  4. You'll become more motivated. When I get in a "mood," all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep. However, I know I can't always do that, or at least I can't do that until my dog is fed, watered, and doesn't have to go outside to do his business. The little accomplishments like that help me know I got something done that day and that at least one being is glad I did that thing. You, too, can feel accomplished by something small but life-changing for your pet, whether it's by changing your cat's litter, making an appointment with the vet, or cleaning your reptile's terrarium.
  5. Pets are entertainingI love watching my dog "nest" in blankets or run around my apartment with a toy. I'd argue that all animals have their own personalities and will react differently to all kinds of stimuli. Even watching a fish tank for a while can be relaxing. You don't always have to interact with your pet directly to realize how fun they are to have around.

Obviously, it's not always possible to have a pet on campus. Smaller pets are more likely to get by in whatever housing situation applies to you. As a commuter, I haven't had to deal with this issue aside from my first two years of college. When you're on your own, though, think about getting a pet. Never get a pet because you simply think it's cute or unique; they're a lot of work, of course, and different animals have different ways to care for them. It's important to research your new friend's care requirements rather than going along with whatever a pet store associate is trying to sell you. I also advise adopting a pet who deserves a new home. Sometimes they're more difficult to train, but the work is all worth it once you've both settled in together.

Pets aren't for everyone, but they're a necessity in my life. They're more than just companions to me; they're family members with furrier bodies and less English comprehension.