As soon as I made the decision to attend a college that was three-and-a-half hours from home, I knew that I would have to make many sacrifices. I began to understand that I would no longer have the luxury of my mom bringing me ginger ale when I had a sore throat, or of staying up late watching movies with my sister. I knew that I would have to kiss my days of a large, comfortable bed and a spacious shower with decent water pressure goodbye, but the one thing that was nearly impossible for me to prepare for was leaving my beloved Lida Rose behind.
By the standards of most people, Lida is not necessarily considered to be the most beautiful dog. She is a nine-pound mutt with foul breath and wiry, kinky fur. Her face and ears resemble that of a schnauzer, her fur belongs to a poodle, but her tail curls up into a tight onion ring shape and looks more like it belongs to a pig than anything else. She has an obsession with digging the remnants of last night’s dinner out of the trash can – a habit she was never quite able to shake after she was rescued from her life as a stray. Further, if you hold a piece of food for too long before putting it in your mouth, Lida might just think that means that you don’t want it anymore, which might just make her think that she should take it right out of your hand.
Although she is smelly and rude and maybe a bit odd-looking, she is the best dog that I have ever had. I have never seen a dog get more excited than Lida whenever I come home, and her constant energy keeps my days interesting. Her hyperactivity is often baffling, but once it is finally time for a nap, she doesn’t hesitate to curl up right on top of me and fall asleep, lightly snoring and keeping my body warm. When everything else seems to be going wrong, I always look forward to seeing my little Lida at the end of the day. Even the smell of her breath doesn’t seem to bother me anymore.
As I write this, I am 175 miles away from my pup. It’s been almost a month since I last scratched her head or caught a whiff of her putrid breath. Like many other college freshman, there have been countless times when I’ve been so overwhelmed by how quickly my life is changing, and oftentimes, my very being 175 miles away from home feels like a crisis. During these times, there is nothing I want more than to curl up on the couch with my little dog and feel my anxiety melt away, but instead, I’m faced with a frigid shoebox of a room, and my Lida is nowhere to be seen. Although this doggie deprivation can often bring about the worst types of homesickness, being away from my dog has given me an opportunity to seek new escapes and sanctuaries. When I normally would veg out on the sofa with my dog to relieve a long day’s stress, now I walk around campus listening to music, or perhaps I go on a long drive around Athens without any particular destination in mind. Until it’s time for me to drive three-and-a-half hours back home and be reunited with my dog, I will be okay on my own.