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Courtesy of Sammi Burke

Having a Dog in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

I have been obsessed with animals for as long as I can remember. I have surrounded myself with animals my entire life, but dogs specifically have always held a special place in my heart. Whenever I go to parties, I am always quick to find the dog and befriend them. In high school, I worked tirelessly to prove to my parents that I could take care of a dog myself.

When I turned 16, I started volunteering at a local animal shelter. I would go and spend time with rescue dogs by walking them and acclimating them to people and households so they could get adopted. When COVID-19 hit, and volunteering became more difficult, my dad and I decided to sign up to foster dogs. Throughout my senior year, we gave a temporary home to three dogs and helped them find their forever home. While I did have help, I took on a lot more responsibility with these dogs than I had with family pets in the past. Doing this made me think that I could start doing it myself.

Freshman year of college was pretty normal, but every time I saw a dog on campus, I knew there was a part of me that was missing. For sophomore year, I moved into a house where one of my roommates had a dog. Seeing how she balanced everything and reminiscing on my days as a dog foster mom, I was convinced that having a dog was something completely within my ability. My parents were very skeptical at first, since having a dog is a major responsibility, one much greater than some people account for. To be honest, I was terrified too. But I the first time I held my four-week-old puppy in my arms, I fell head over heels in love. She was mine, and I was going to do everything I could to show her that.

While I have always promoted rescuing, a new puppy was better for my situation. I could acclimate her to other dogs and people a lot easier than I would a shelter dog. I had a friend tell me about a man who was giving away a litter of tree walker coonhound puppies. I think the best description I have ever heard for a hound dog is they are somewhere between stupid and stubborn, so I knew I seriously had my work cut out for me. One of the biggest challenges I faced was not having my parents to rely on anymore. Before with the foster dogs, if I was busy, I had my parents to rely on to take care of the dogs. However, this time, they made it clear that she was my dog and my responsibility—even though now they love her and constantly ask when their grand doggy will visit next.

Between training, school and my social life, having a dog has been a big adjustment. I have loved the challenge of learning how to navigate a hound’s brain and training her to listen to me. I actually have been able to expand my social circle as well. There is a group of dog owners in my neighborhood that I have met. We have puppy playdates, picnics, and go on little adventures together. I also get to bring my dog with me to hang out with my friends and she comes to football tailgates. I constantly have my best friend at my side, and I love every second of it.

A lot of people told me that I would regret getting a dog, and while it has been a big adjustment, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Not only have I grown in my ability to manage my time and overall sense of responsibility, Maisy’s face when she looks up at me when we’re on a walk will top any other experience I could be missing. Having a dog that relies on me for everything can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, but I have a very solid support system including, friends, roommates, and my parents that help alleviate those anxieties. I don’t think having a pet would be for everyone, but if you’re out there considering it, I am here to tell you to tell you to take the leap.

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Ally Tezak

Virginia Tech '25

I am a freshman at Virginia Tech studying animal science: pre-vet with an emphasis in livestock.