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My Best Friend Back Home: 5 Tips for the College Students Who Miss Their Pets

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

There are many people we leave behind upon starting college, perhaps most notably our parents and our high school friends. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges students face, but the good news is that most of the time, our parents and friends are simply a call or text message away. However, many of us have beloved family members and friends we do not share that privilege with and that would be our pets. For this reason, leaving behind our dear animals is a different kind of pain that so many students know all too well.

Since I was in the fourth grade, I’ve had a Miniature American Shepherd named Koopa who I call my best friend. In college, I miss him every day. It would be nice if he could live in my dorm with me, but that is not the best situation for either of us. Instead, there are a few things I do to cope with missing my furry friend that I would like to share with you.

A photo of my Miniature American Shepherd
Photo by Julie Connolly
Fill Your Dorm with Photos, keepsakes, and stuffed animals.

Prior to moving into college, I knew I would miss Koopa. Therefore, I made sure to keep a steady supply of photos and stuffed animal look-alikes that I could keep with me. My mom even bought me an adorable customized pillow with his picture printed on it. Although they are not the same as having your pet there in person, little reminders like these go a long way, especially at times when you are missing them more.

The items I have in my dorm that remind me of my dog
Photo by Mary Connolly
Beg your family for regular photos and updates.

Perhaps the closest thing you can have to being with your pet as a college student is receiving real-time updates about them. Although everyone is in different places when it comes to how often they contact their family members, most would be glad to give you at least an occasional update on how your animal friend is doing at home. My mom sends me cute photos, funny videos, and general status updates on Koopa that make my whole day.

Attend Animal-related events.

If you are anything like me, you love interacting with animals, and it allows you to feel a similar happiness that your pet brought you every day at home. Although it won’t be the same as being with your furry best friend, spending time with animals is a great help in coping with your time away from them.

At UCF in particular, there are many animal-related events open to the whole student body. Volunteer UCF has a whole animal-related subset that puts on service events for local shelters, sanctuaries, and adoption events. The UCF Police Department and Counseling Center also have several events where they allow students to interact with their animals, most notably therapy dog Luna and police canine Zeus.

Puppy Happy Fun Girl
Charlotte Reader / Her Campus
Scope out the animals on campus.

Attending events is not the only way to interact with animals in college. UCF is a pretty walkable campus, which means it is walkable for dogs, too! Especially on the weekends, I come across many people taking their dogs for a walk across Memory Mall, the Reflecting Pond area, and around campus in general. Most of the dogs are quite friendly and the owners are willing to let you say hi! Even if they are not, just the sight of so many furry critters walking around campus brings me so much joy.


Never forget that your pet can still see you in person! You could organize occasional visits, whether that be you going home or your family bringing your pet to you on campus. This would give you something to look forward to, and it would be a very exciting moment for your pet as well, who misses you just as much as you miss them!

These are just a few ways I deal with missing Koopa every day as a college student. Perhaps you have your own personal ways to remind yourself of your furry friend! Either way, we can all agree that pets are such a treasured presence in our lives, and when we are away from them, this only becomes more apparent.

Mary Connolly is a Biomedical Sciences major at UCF with a minor in Political Science, originally from New Hampshire. In her free time, she enjoys doing community service, working out, and hanging out with her beloved Mini Aussie. Some other clubs that Mary is involved in include Catholic Campus Ministry, College Republicans, Volunteer UCF, and Omega Phi Alpha.