The Perfect College Companion

They always say you shouldn’t own a dog while in college. And you know what, at times I could understand why they would say that. But I’m here to say that adopting a dog as a college student was one of the best decisions I ever made. But, let me start from the beginning.

Adjusting to the college lifestyle was extremely difficult for me during my freshman year. I think of myself as a sentimental person and feel a deep-rooted connection to the places I spent running around barefoot as a child. So naturally, leaving behind my family, friends, and hometown all at once was very difficult for me to do. 

I remember the time feeling distorted, where 24 hours felt like weeks and I would count down the days on my desk calendar until I could visit home. I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system of friends at school, however, I couldn’t help but feel homesick from time to time.

But what I didn’t expect to be such a hard adjustment my freshman year was living without pets. I’ve been drawn to animals ever since I could remember, and I grew up with every animal in the book. Living with and caring for animals is ingrained in my personality, and I realized that I had lost a part of myself when I went to school without them. 

 

two friends walking big dogs on leashes on a bright grassy hill Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

I knew I had to stick out my freshman year without a four-legged companion. But to lessen the blow, my roommates and I drove to Petco and bought ourselves a beautiful, red betta fish that glowed like the embers of a burning fire. We gave him an equally as beautiful name- Doug. 

Doug provided me with a small-scale sense of responsibility and companionship, which was good at the time. He, unfortunately, only shared a brief moment with us, as fish have short lifespans (especially when being fed by every roommate.) But he helped me realize that I crave animal companionship when I’m away at school. 

Flash forward to my sophomore year, I lived off-campus in a pet-friendly apartment complex. Rolling hills and fenced fields with walking paths line the perimeter of the apartments, and a dog park is located just past the entrance to the development. When I moved in, I thought to myself, This is the perfect place to raise a dog.

Once I had my mindset on this, the rest was history. I did my research and found the perfect 12-week-old, black lab puppy that needed a loving home. My friend and I packed up my car and drove to North Carolina to pick him up. We got a little lost along the way, turning a three-hour-round-trip into a six-hour-round-trip, but I’m all for a memorable journey. I’ve always been the type to stop and smell the roses, and my parents taught me from a young age that it’s more about the scenery along the route than how fast you could get to your destination. 

We finally arrived back at my apartment, and I did not know what I had just gotten myself into. Raising a puppy is comparable to raising a child in the first few weeks. I remember calling my Mom every few hours asking her for tips and tricks. And I’ll be honest, the first few nights I remember going to bed, hearing him cry and just thinking to myself, What have I done?

Slowly and surely, things started to come together. He learned where he could and couldn’t use the bathroom and what he could and couldn’t chew on. We started taking naps at the same time and curling up together to watch movies. Before I knew it, my 15 pound, 12-week-old puppy was a 75 pound, one-year-old dog. 

I'm not going to say it was all rainbows and butterflies. Because of him, I’ve lost more slippers, phone chargers, remote controls, stuffed animals and jewelry than I’d like to admit. Not to mention, I am a professional at removing stains from carpets at this point. And now and then, when I want to sleep in or have a lazy day, he’s always there to remind me that we need to go outside and play as soon as the sun comes up. But I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

He's the best hiking partner and never fails to put smiles on the faces of people passing by. He’s always there if I’m feeling down and need to take a break from the outside world and gets super excited to see me every time I walk in through the front door. And, he gives me that sense of responsibility I crave as a college student away from home. 

Despite what they say about college students owning dogs, I couldn’t imagine life without him. He is truly the perfect college companion.