The truth about owning a dog in college


Hannah Adams, Asst. Opinion Editor

When I decided to get a dog the summer after my freshman year, I had many people that thought it was a terrible idea. My parents, brother and a few friends tried to talk me out of it because they believed it was too much responsibility. At that time, I was working a decent amount and had also been struggling with my mental health. I have always been tremendously strong-willed and once my mind was made up; I knew a dog was what I needed. 

I am not someone to jump into a situation without doing my due diligence, so I knew that I was prepared to take on the commitment of a dog. Growing up, my family always had dogs which allowed me the chance to learn how to train them from a young age. Given that I was in college and lacking in excessive free time, I made the choice to adopt a shelter dog that was eight months or older. Eventually I began looking at online adoption websites and visiting shelters to try and find the right companion for me. 

It was not until I was searching on the website that I found a dog that I felt connected with. She was a rescued 8-month-old Lab Pitbull mix named Chloe that had been rehomed four times. Immediately I fell in love with the pictures of her and contacted the then owner to set a meeting time. It was love at first sight for me and I knew that she was going to be my dog. That night I settled on the name for her that I felt suited her best, Indigo. For many, finding the perfect pet is a unique process to them and it seems that sometimes dogs really do find us sometimes. They teach us so much about gratitude and choosing a positive attitude on the day to day. In the blog written by an author named Kyle on website, he expressed how having rescue dogs changed his perspective in life. 

I truly believe that animals have feelings and emotions. I cannot imagine the things they’ve seen, felt, and had to endure. AND YET, they still wag their tails and embrace a new family as if nothing ever happened,” Kyle said. “Whenever I’m about to have a toxic thought or a complaint I find now that I quickly stop myself and just think of how insignificant this “problem” is. It’s pretty powerful stuff and you’ll be surprised how your attitude, relationship, and life will change with just a simple perspective shift and seeing something through a different lens.”

Having an animal in my life has changed how I feel about many scenarios. For example, although I am an introverted person, I do not know that I would have felt comfortable living alone if I did not have Indigo. My junior year I made the decision to get a one-person studio apartment and having Indigo with me made the experience so much better. Her constant companionship and love for me has helped me get through some of the hardest times of my life. Indigo truly is a testament to the benefits that having an animal friend can do for mental health. In the article written by Kai Lundgren, Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal; the authors express the known benefits of having pets. 

“One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that pets fulfill the basic human need for touch,” said Lundgren et al. “Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe you when you’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.”

This is not to say that having a pet is a commitment for every young college student to take on. It is a ton of responsibility and an accountability to another living thing aside from yourself. Now when I make decisions to go out or take a trip, I must take into consideration Indigo and her well-being. Along with this there are the general medications and vet visits that should be an obligation to any pet owner that has to means to afford it. Given that I work, a portion of my money always goes to her and her needs. In the Wet Nose Escapades article “18 Reasons Why You Should NOT Get a Dog”, the organization lists a few of the primary financial obligations of having a dog. 

“Dogs are expensive! From dog food to annual vet check-ups to flea meds, having a dog is not cheap. Sure, you can save a few bucks by buying cheap dog food and skipping vet visits but you’re essentially jeopardizing your dog’s health (which will cost you even more in the long run),” said the Wet Nose Escapades organization. “If you don’t have a steady income in addition to at least six months of emergency savings, then you should work on building up your financial stability before adding a dependent into your life.” 

Along with the financial obligations, having a dog can be an extremely stressful process. At the end of the day, training a dog has truly been one of the most frustrating but rewarding things I have ever done. Indigo is hyperactive and crazy, always on the move and ready to play. She also was a rescue and has a past that I do not know the full story of. So, when I first got her, and she showed severe signs of anxiety around men I did not know what to do. It was not until she and I had truly established a relationship that I began to understand how to properly work with her and gain her trust. After three years of being a dog owner I can safely say that Indigo and I have a mutual respect as well as an unbreakable bond that I would not trade for the world. 

I do not and will not ever regret my decision to adopt Indigo. Having her has challenged me in so many ways and ultimately led to some serious maturity. So, if you feel that you have the money, time, and patience that it takes to own a dog, I think it is one of the most incredible experiences for a young person to have. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your dog is dependent on you and relies on you to provide them a home where they feel safe, loved and protected. When they are in need or are afraid it is you that they will look to for security and protection.