If You Miss Your Pet In College, You're Not Alone

I have this perfect guy in my life. Think about the most perfect guy you've ever met, and multiply it by ten. He's so sweet, and he has the kindest heart. Whenever he sees me, no matter what time of day, he becomes overwhelmed with joy. He jumps right up, and greets me with so much love. He cuddles in bed with me every single morning and doesn’t get up until I do. Whenever I cook him dinner, he finishes every bite. Here’s a plus: he's the best kisser; he does get a little clingy sometimes, though. He always wants me to play with his hair, and if I stop, he’ll grab my arm until I start again. If he’s extra lonely, he’ll follow me all over the house until I give him attention. Some girls may not like a clingy guy, but it shows me one thing: he loves me more than anything. He’s never once done anything to harm me, or done anything mean to me. Everything he does shows his unconditional love for me. Now, let’s talk about his looks. He’s quite a catch! He has fluffy brown and white hair, a black nose, floppy ears, and four legs. 

Did I trick you into thinking “my guy” was a human? Well, he's better than a human - he's a dog. His name is Ben, and he's been my baby boy ever since we got him as a puppy. Most of my summer in 2016 was spent raising Ben while my mom was at work, so we share a very close bond. When it was time for me to leave for college one year later, I was excited to finally start my journey at Penn State; but sadly, this meant leaving my family and all of my friends. The hardest part of all was leaving Ben. There was nothing I could do to make him understand why I was leaving, and there was nothing I could do to reassure him I was coming back. 

Many of us have to go through this upon leaving for college. Once we get to school, missing our pets adds to the homesickness. Our pets are family, just as our human family members are. If you ever feel depressed because you miss your pet, you’re not the only one - and you’re certainly not unusual. Here are some pieces of advice if you miss your fur babies as much as I miss mine:

 

1. If you see someone walking a dog down the street, ask to pet it. 

Penn State is a massive campus, so plenty of people are walking their adorable dogs. You can’t pet the ones with a service dog vest, but other than that, don’t be afraid to ask the owner for a quick hello!

Ben is a Cava-tzu (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Shih-tzu mix), so whenever I see small, fluffy dogs, they remind me of him. It makes me miss him, but it’s also comforting to interact with a dog after missing mine for so long. No dog in the world can ever replace your pet, but in the meantime, petting a different one will surely make you feel better.   

 

2. If your family ever comes to visit, they should definitely bring your dog along. 

I don’t even have to ask anymore. Whenever my parents come to visit, they automatically bring at least one of my dogs (usually Ben). With a dog, you're limited to the number of activities you can do around Penn State, but there are outdoor eating options and dogs are even allowed in the HUB. 

Obviously Ben can’t come to Penn State if the weather is too cold; I wouldn’t want my poor baby to freeze. However, in August, September and some days in April, the weather is beautiful. We love to take Ben for long walks around campus, and he loves to go to the creamery for a little bit of vanilla ice cream - but most of all, he's so happy to see me. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re limited to the amount of activities you can do with your family - no activity in the world is better than seeing your pet. 

 

3. Hanging pictures, doing video chats, or using anything visual helps. 

Some people find it to be a coping mechanism to never see their pet in any way, shape or form. They think that seeing pictures of them, for example, will only make things harder. Personally, I don't find this to be true. I have many pictures of Ben and my other two dogs, Macy and Stella, hanging on my wall. Seeing their little faces on my wall while I go to sleep at night makes me feel content. It may sound strange, but I feel as though I’ll forget what they look like if I don’t constantly look at their pictures.

I also always ask my mom the same question every time I video chat with her: “Mom... where is my baby boy?” It makes my heart jump with joy when she turns the camera and I get to see Ben’s little face. It almost makes me feel like I’m there with him. Whenever I’m stressed about school, seeing him is like dog therapy - but ten times better because it’s my own dog. Don’t make yourself suffer; there's no harm in hanging at least one picture or video chatting with your mom just so you can see your dog for a few minutes.

Don’t worry, your pet will never forget you. All bonds are special, and they can be formed between living things of any kind. When you create a bond like the one you have with your pet, nothing can ever break it. 

I once watched a video about a lion named Christian, who was adopted when he was just a cub by two men. He became a full-sized lion, and they decided he needed to be released into the wild. About one year later, they went to the wild looking for him. Christian recognized them, dropped his mouth, ran over to them and showed them immense love. Since he was a lion, no one would've expected this - but he built a very strong bond with these two men.

The same goes for any normal pet. No matter how long I go without seeing Ben, he does the same thing every time he sees me: he jumps all over me and cries tears of joy. No, this isn't a joke... he really does that. I'm just as overcome with joy as he is, mainly because he's so happy. 

I think many people are afraid that they'll leave for college, and when they come back home, their pet won't recognize them. I promise, collegiettes - they will. It’s the same as if you went a long time without seeing any family member; they wouldn’t forget you, would they? Well, neither will your pet. In the end, distance can never come between you and your fur baby.