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Original photo by Raegan Gioe

Five Perks To Having a Pooch in College

I am sure you have all heard the commonly used phrase that “dog is a man’s best friend.” As a former cat lady, I was once skeptical into believing the validity behind those words, but luckily, all of that changed when Moonpie “ran” into my life two years ago. The summer before I headed off to college, my mother did what most parents do when one of their birds leaves the nest...replaced that bird with a dog. Moonpie, our little white French bulldog, was instantly loved by the family, but before we knew it, she became more of a burden than a blessing. Extremely competitive like the rest of us, Moonpie constantly fought with our other dogs, which brought chaos into the household. Having dealt with homesickness freshman year, I knew that I wanted a pup of my own to keep me company. Soon enough with little convincing, I was able to take Moonpie with me to enjoy college life.

Though I was initially nervous that I didn’t have what it took to be a “dog mom,” I’m happy to say that I was far from the truth. Keeping Moonpie this year has hands-down given me a better overall college experience while also providing her with the one-on-one attention she craved. College is a transitional period with so many ups and downs, so why not have a furry friend to help you along the way? Though it is a serious time commitment and a huge responsibility, I can assure you that all of the benefits that come with having a dog are well worth it. If you are still debating and need a push, these are five benefits to having a pooch on campus. 

1. A dog will keep you active and get you outside to enjoy the fresh air.

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For a college student, finding the motivation to get out of bed in the morning can be hard, to say the least. Whether it be a whiff of puppy breath or a cold nose to the face, your dog will encourage you to wake up and start your day off on the right foot by getting some exercise. Morning walks with your pup are such a great way to begin your days with an enthusiastic attitude and a productive mindset! 

Like most college students, I find myself glued to my laptop, either working on assignments or binging Netflix. With all of that screen time, it is essential to take a breather from technology and appreciate nature. Having a dog pushes you to take those much-needed breaks to go outdoors and relax.

 2. A dog will provide you with unconditional love and support.

With the stresses of school combined with the absence of family, it is not uncommon for college students to feel like a small fish in a big pond. Amidst a global pandemic, it has become more difficult for students to make connections with their peers, and in turn, creating a rise in mental health issues. Having a furry friend is like having an unlimited supply of pure joy and entertainment that can ease feelings of loneliness and despair. Though they are unable to say it aloud, dogs love wholeheartedly, unconditionally and have the most precious ways of showing it. 

3. A dog will teach you responsibility and time management skills.

One word, eight letters: “ADULTING.” It’s a harsh reality that we all have to accept the moment we step onto that campus. Though college in itself teaches self-sufficiency, caring for a dog prepares you for something far more demanding: how to tend to someone else. Dog owners must arrange their day appropriately around their pup, making sure it receives the adequate time and attention it deserves. Just like being in a relationship, having a canine companion requires sacrifice. This level of sacrifice teaches commitment and selflessness, which are qualities that will serve you well in the future.  

4. A dog is a great conversation starter and can often break the ice or ease an uncomfortable situation! 

No longer in classrooms and instead confined to small boxes on a screen, it has become even more challenging to interact with peers. On the bright side, being in the comfort of your own home allows students and professors alike to share their furry friends with the class. This gives students something to converse about and allows their classmates to get to know them better. And who doesn’t like to talk about pets!

Anxious about a first date or lunch with a new friend? Bringing your pup is a great way to settle nerves and get a dialogue going. I have personally done it several times and it has allowed me to feel more relaxed and comfortable in these social situations.

5. A dog can help you achieve better grades by keeping you grounded. 

In college, it is easy to get lost in the fun of it all. Trust me, I’ve been there. But you often have to take a step back and remind yourself why you came to college in the first place: to get an education. Having the responsibility of a pup is a huge incentive to stay home and complete coursework. With schoolwork inducing anxiety and stress, something as simple as having your loyal and cuddly pup by your side helps tremendously with calming your worries. And dogs definitely make the best study buddies! 

For those who were on the verge of making this exciting decision, I hope I gave you the push you needed to pick out a pup of your own. Getting a dog in college was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to “fluff” their college experience as well. 

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Raegan is currently a junior pursuing a career in Public Relations and Travel Journalism. She loves to shop, travel and spend time with her French bulldog Moonpie.
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